William Weaver

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

William Fense Weaver (24 July 1923 – 12 November 2013)[1] was an English language translator of modern Italian literature.[2]


Weaver was best known for his translations of the work of Umberto Eco, Primo Levi and Italo Calvino,[3] but translated many other Italian authors over the course of a career which spanned more than fifty years. In addition to prose, he translated Italian poetry and opera libretti, and worked as a critic and commentator on the Metropolitan Opera radio broadcasts.

According to his nephew, Weaver was probably born in Washington, D.C., but spent a portion of the year in Virginia during his childhood.[3] Educated at Princeton University he graduated with a B.A. summa cum laude in 1946, followed by postgraduate study at the University of Rome in 1949.[4] Weaver was an ambulance driver in Italy during World War II for the American Field Service, and lived primarily in Italy after the end of the war. Through his friendships with Elsa Morante, Alberto Moravia and others, Weaver met many of Italy's leading authors and intellectuals in Rome in the late 1940s and early 1950s; he paid tribute to them in his anthology Open City (1999).

Later in his life, Weaver was a professor of literature at Bard College in New York, and a Bard Center Fellow. He received honorary degrees from the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom and Trinity College in Connecticut. According to translator Geoffrey Brock, Weaver was too ill to translate Umberto Eco's novel, The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana (La misteriosa fiamma della regina Loana 2004). [1]

Weaver died in Rhinebeck, New York state.[3]

Major translations[edit]

Italo Calvino[edit]


Umberto Eco[edit]

  • Travels in Hyperreality (1986). (based in part on Sette anni di desiderio: cronache 1977 - 1983, 1983.) Harcourt (ISBN 0-15-691321-6).
  • Serendipities: Language & Lunacy (1989). Harvest Books (ISBN 0-15-600751-7).
  • "A Rose by Any Other Name", in the Guardian Weekly, January 16, 1994 [2]
  • Postscript to The Name of the Rose (1995). Harcourt (ISBN 1-56849-675-3).
  • Misreadings (1993). (Diario minimo, 1963, 1975.) Harcourt, (ISBN 0-15-660752-2).
  • How to Travel with a Salmon and Other Essays (1994). (Il secondo diario minimo, 1992.) Harcourt (ISBN 0-15-600125-X).
  • Apocalypse Postponed (1994). Indiana University Press (ISBN 0-85170-446-8). (W.W. translated only one of the selections in this collection.)


Bassani, Giorgio

Bellonci, Maria

  • Private Renaissance: A Novel (1989). (Rinascimento privato, 1985). William Morrow (ISBN 0-688-08188-6).

Berto, Giuseppe

  • Incubus (1966). (Il male oscuro, 1964.) Knopf.
  • Antonio in Love (1968). (La cosa buffa, 1966.) Knopf.

Calasso, Roberto

  • The Ruin of Kasch (1994). (La rovina di Kasch, 1983.) Belknap Press (ISBN 0-674-78029-9).

Capriolo, Paola

Cassola, Carlo

  • An Arid Heart (1964). (Un cuore arido, 1961.) Pantheon.

De Carlo, Andrea

De Cespedes, Alba

  • Remorse (1967). (Il rimorso, 1963.) Doubleday.

Elkann, Alain

  • Piazza Carignano (1986). (Piazza Carignano, 1985.) Atlantic Monthly Press (ISBN 0-87113-109-9).
  • Misguided Lives: A Novel (1989). (Montagne russe, 1988). Atlantic Monthly Press (ISBN 0-87113-295-8).

Fallaci, Oriana

Festa Campanile, Pasquale

  • For Love, Only for Love (1989). (Per amore, solo per amore, 1983.) Ballantine (ISBN 0-345-36336-1).

Fruttero, Carlo & Lucentini, Franco

Gadda, Carlo Emilio

La Capria, Raffaele

  • A Day of Impatience (1954). (Un giorno d'impazienza, 1952.) Farrar, Straus, Young. (This was W.W.'s first full-length literary translation, per Healey's Bibliography.)

Lavagnino, Alessandra

Levi, Primo

  • The Monkey's Wrench (1986/1995). (La chiave a stella, 1978.) Penguin Classics (ISBN 0-14-018892-4).
  • If Not Now, When? (1995). (Se non ora, quando? 1982.) Penguin Classics (ISBN 0-14-018893-2).

Loy, Rosetta

  • The Dust Roads of Monferrato (1990). (Le strade di polvere, 1987.) Knopf (ISBN 0-394-58849-5).

Luciani, Albino

  • Illustrissimi: Letters from Pope John Paul I (1978) Little, Brown, & Co. (ISBN 0-316-53530-3).

Malerba, Luigi

  • The Serpent (1968). (Il serpente, 1965.) Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
  • What is this buzzing, do you hear it too? (1969). (Salto mortale, 1968.) Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

Montale, Eugenio

  • Butterfly of Dinard (1966). (La farfalla di Dinard, 1956/1960.) In Art and Literature 9 (Summer 1966), pp. 54–60.
  • "Italo Svevo, on the centenary of his birth." In Art and Literature 12 (Spring 1967), pp. 9–31.

Morante, Elsa

Moravia, Alberto

Moretti, Ugo

  • Artists in Rome (1958). (Gente al Babuino, 1955.) Macmillan.

Parise, Goffredo

  • The Boss (1966). (Il padrone, 1965.) Knopf.

Pasolini, Pier Paolo

Pirandello, Luigi

  • One, No One, and One Hundred Thousand (1990). (Uno, nessuno e centomila, 1926.) Marsilio (ISBN 0-941419-74-6).
  • The Late Mattia Pascal (1964). (Il fu Mattia Pascal, 1904.) New York Review Books Classics (ISBN 1-59017-115-2).

Rosso, Renzo

  • The Hard Thorn (1966). (La dura spina, 1963.) Alan Ross.

Sanguineti, Edoardo

  • Extract from Capriccio italiano. In Art and Literature 2 (Summer 1964), pp. 88–97.

Silone, Ignazio

  • The School for Dictators (1963). (La scuola dei dittatori, 1938/1962.) Atheneum.
  • The Story of a Humble Christian (1970). (L'avventura d'un povero cristiano, 1968.) Harper & Row (ISBN 0-06-013873-4).

Soldati, Mario

Svevo, Italo

Verdi, Giuseppe and Arrigo Boito

  • The Verdi-Boito Correspondence (1994). (Carteggio Verdi/Boito, 1978.) Marcello Conati and Mario Medici, eds. U. of Chicago Press (ISBN 0-226-85304-7). (With commentary by W.W.)

Zavattini, Cesare

  • Zavattini: Sequences from a Cinematic Life (1970). (Straparole, 1967.) Prentice-Hall (ISBN 0-13-983916-X).

As editor[edit]

  • Open City : Seven Writers in Postwar Rome : Ignazio Silone, Giorgio Bassani, Alberto Moravia, Elsa Morante, Natalia Ginzburg, Carlo Levi, Carlo Emili (1999). Steerforth Italia (ISBN 1-883642-82-5).

Original works[edit]


Articles and contributions[edit]

  • "Pendulum Diary" (1990), Southwest Review Vol. 75 #2, pp. 150–178 (an account of Weavers's experience translating Foucault's Pendulum)
  • Biguenet, John and Rainer Schulte (eds.), The Craft of Translation, essay in "The Process of Translation". Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1989. ISBN 0226048683
  • Eleanor Clark, Rome and a Villa (2000). Steerforth Italia ISBN 1-883642-51-5. (Weaver wrote an introduction for this travelogue/memoir by Clark, whom he knew in Rome in the late 1940s)




  • "Calvino was not a writer of hits; he was a writer of classics." — On the fact that Calvino's English translations have never been best-sellers, but have instead steady, consistent sales year after year. [3]
  • "Translating Calvino is an aural exercise as well as a verbal one. It is not a process of turning this Italian noun into that English one, but rather of pursuing a cadence, a rhythm—sometimes regular, sometimes wilfully jagged—and trying to catch it, while, like a Wagner villain, it may squirm and change shape in your hands." [4]
  • "Some of the hardest things to translate into English from Italian are not great big words, such as you find in Eco, but perfectly simple things, 'buon giorno' for instance. How to translate that? We don't say 'good day,' except in Australia. It has to be translated 'good morning' or 'good evening' or 'good afternoon' or 'hello.' You have to know not only the time of day the scene is taking place, but also in which part of Italy it's taking place, because in some places they start saying 'buona sera' ('good evening') at 1:00 P.M. The minute they get up from the luncheon table it's evening for them. So someone could say 'buona sera,' but you can't translate it as 'good evening' because the scene is taking place at 3:00 P.M. You need to know the language but, even more, the life of the country." — From the Paris Review interview, 2002.



  • Robin Healey's monumental Twentieth-Century Italian Literature in English Translation: An Annotated Bibliography (ISBN 0-8020-0800-3) was extremely helpful in the preparation of the bibliography portion of this entry.
  • Porto Ludovica from The Modern Word, supplied additional details on Eco translations.

External links[edit]