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May 30, 2010

Reading list: Gregory Rabassa

Translation is always a treason, and as a Ming author observes, can at its best be only the reverse side of a brocade—all threads are there, but not the subtlety of colour or design. But, after all, what great doctrine is there which is easy to expound? The ancient sages never put their teachings in systematic form. They spoke in paradoxes, for they were afraid of uttering half-truths. They began by talking like fools and ended by making their hearers wise. Laotse himself, with his quaint humour, says, “If people of inferior intelligence hear of the Tao, they laugh immensely. It would not be the Tao unless they laughed at it.”
–Okakura Kakuzo, The Book of Tea (1906)


The following is a list of the translations done by the inimitable translator Gregory Rabassa, as contained in his memoir If This Be Treason: Translation and Its Dyscontents (New Directions, 2005). His best known works are of course the much-loved translations of Julio Cortázar’s Hopscotch and Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude.

He introduced his discussion of these works in his memoir, under the section “The Bill of Particulars” (pp. 49-50):

Excluding shorter pieces I have done … the writers I have translated thus far number twenty-seven, with some awaiting publication …. The works are largely fiction, with one small poetry chapbook, a literary study, and a social history. This varying array of personalities, styles, languages (Portuguese and Spanish), and nationalities, all funneled into the work of one translator reveals how this last must in some way undergo a kind of controlled schizophrenia as he marshals his skills at immutability. My own experience in this matter has not been all that complex or worrisome. As I have said before, I follow the text, I let it lead me along, and a different and it is to be hoped proper style will emerge for each author. This bears out my thesis that a good translation is essentially a good reading; if we know how to read as we should we will be able to put down what we are reading in another language into our own. I might have said into our own words, but these, even in English, belong to the author who indirectly thought them up.
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Rabassa’s memoir then went on to describe each of the books listed below. (I've updated the list to reflect those that were published since the memoir came out. The titles of plays, some five of them, are excluded from this list.) His “rap sheet” mentions not only the nature of the books and his estimation of them, but also his relationship with the authors in question. It can be said that Rabassa not only produced a version of these works in English. In many creative ways, he also “co-authored” them.



English translations by Gregory Rabassa (updated Oct. 5, 2013)


Julio Cortázar

Hopscotch, 1966 (Rayuela, 1963)
62: A Model Kit, 1972 (62: Modelo para armar, 1968)
A Manual for Manuel, 1978 (Libro de Manuel, 1973)
A Change of Light and Other Stories, 1980 (Octaedro, 1974; Alguien que anda por ahí, 1978)
We Love Glenda So Much and Other Tales, 1983 (Queremos tanto a Glenda y otros relatos, 1981)
A Certain Lucas, 1984 (Un tal Lucas, 1979)


Miguel Ángel Asturias

Mulata, 1967 (Mulata de tal, 1963)
Strong Wind, 1969 (Viento fuerte, 1950)
The Green Pope, 1971 (El papa verde, 1954)
The Eyes of the Interred, 1973 (Los ojos de los enterrados, 1960)


Clarice Lispector

The Apple in the Dark, 1967 (A Maçã no Escuro, 1961)


Mario Vargas Llosa

The Green House, 1968 (La casa verde, 1965)
Conversation in The Cathedral, 1975 (Conversación en la Catedral, 1969)


Afrânio Coutinho

An Introduction to Literature in Brazil, 1969 (Introdução à Literatura no Brasil, 1966)


Juan Goytisolo

Marks of Identity, 1969 (Señas de identidad, 1966)


Manuel Mujica-Láinez

Bomarzo, 1969 (Bomarzo, 1967)


Gabriel García Márquez

One Hundred Years of Solitude, 1970 (Cien años de soledad, 1967)
Leaf Storm and Other Stories, 1972 (La hojarasca, 1969)
The Autumn of the Patriarch, 1976 (El otoño del patriarca, 1975)
Innocent Eréndira and Other Stories, 1978 (La increíble y triste historia de la cándida Eréndira y de su abuela desalmada. Siete cuentos, 1972)
In Evil Hour, 1979 (La mala hora, 1968)
Chronicle of a Death Foretold, 1983 (Crónica de una muerte anunciada, 1981)


Dalton Trevisan

The Vampire of Curitiba and Other Stories, 1972 (Novelas Nada Exemplares. Cemiterio de Elefantes, O Vampiro de Curitiba, A Guerra Conjugal. 2nd eds., 1970)


José Lezama Lima

Paradiso, 1974 (Paradiso, 1968)


Demetrio Aguilera-Malta

Seven Serpents and Seven Moons, 1979 (Siete lunas y siete serpientes, 1970)


Osman Lins

Avalovara, 1979 (Avalovara, 1973)


Luis Rafael Sánchez

Macho Camacho’s Beat, 1980 (La guaracha del Macho Camacho, 1976)


Juan Benet

A Meditation, 1982 (Una meditación, 1969)
Return to Región, 1985 (Volveras a Región, 1967)


Vinícius de Moraes

The Girl from Ipanêma, 1982 (A Garôta de Ipanêma)


Luisa Valenzuela

The Lizard’s Tail, 1983 (Cola de lagartija, 1983)


Jorge Amado

Sea of Death, 1984 (Mar Morto, 1936)
Captains of the Sands, 1988 (Capitães da Areia, 1937)
Showdown, 1988 (Tocaia Grande, 1984)
The War of the Saints, 1993 (O Sumiço da Santa, 1988)
The Double Death of Quincas Water-Bray, 2012 (A morte e a morte de Quincas Derro Dagua, 1961)
The Discovery of America by the Turks, 2013 (A descoberta da America pelos Turcos, 1994)


Oswaldo França, Júnior

The Man in the Monkey Suit, 1986 (O Homem de Macacão, 1972)


António Lobo Antunes

Fado Alexandrino, 1990 (Fado Alexandrino, 1983)
The Return of the Caravels, 2002 (As Naus, 1988)
What Can I Do When Everything’s on Fire?, 2008 (Que Farei Quando Tudo Arde?, 2001)


José Donoso

Taratuta—Still Life with Pipe, 1993 (Taratuta—Naturaleza muerta con cachimba, 1990)


Irene Vilar

A Message from God in the Atomic Age [rereleased in paperback as The Ladies’ Gallery (“The Sirens, Too, Sang that Way”)], 1996.


Mario de Carvalho

A God Strolling in the Cool of the Evening, 1997 (Um Deus Passeando pela Brisa de Tarde, 1994)


Joachim Maria Machado de Assis

The Posthumous Memoirs of Brás Cubas, 1997 (Memórias Póstumas de Brás Cubas, 1881)
Quincas Borba, 1998 (Quincas Borba, 1891)


Ana Teresa Torres

Doña Inés vs. Oblivion, 1999 (Doña Inés contra el olvido, 1992)


Darcy Ribeiro

The Brazilian People, 2000 (O povo brasileiro, 1995)


João de Melo

My World Is Not of This Kingdom, 2003 (O Meu Mundo Não É Deste Reino, 1983)


Jesús Zárate

Jail, 2003 (La cárcel, 1972)


Jorge Franco

Rosario Tijeras, 2004 (Rosario Tijeras, 1999)


Volodia Teitelboim

Internal War, awaiting a publisher (La guerra interna, 1979)


José Sarney

Master of the Sea, 2005 (O Dono do Mar, 1995)
Saraminda: Black Desire in a Field of Gold, 2007 (Saraminda, 2000)


José Maria de Eça de Queirós

The Correspondence of Fradique Mendes, 2011 (Correspondência de Fradique Mendes)


António Vieira
The Sermon of Saint Anthony to the Fish and Other Texts, 2009


Bernardim Ribeiro
Maiden and Modest: A Renaissance Pastoral Romance, 2012




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