Gregory Rabassa, American literary translator, Died at 94


Gregory Rabassa was born on March 9, 1922, in Yonkers, New York, U.S and died on June 13, 2016.

He was a well-known American literary translator from Spanish and Portuguese to English.

Rabassa was a teacher for many years at Columbia University and Queens College.

Following his service in World War II as an OSS cryptographer, Rabassa received a bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth.

Gregory Rabassa gained his doctorate at Columbia University and taught there for over two decades before accepting a position at Queens College, City University of New York.

Gregory Rabassa worked primarily in Spanish and Portuguese.

Gregory Rabassa produced English-language versions of the works of several major Latin American novelists, including Julio Cortázar, Jorge Amado, and Gabriel García Márquez.

García Márquez waited three years for Rabassa to schedule translating One Hundred Years of Solitude.,as advice by Cortázar.

He later declared Rabassa’s translation to be superior to the Spanish original.

He received the PEN Translation Prize in 1977 and the PEN/Ralph Manheim Medal for Translation in 1982.

He was honored with the Gregory Kolovakos Award from PEN American Center for the expansion of Hispanic Literature to an English-language audience in 2001.

He had a particularly close and productive working relation with Cortázar, with whom he shared lifelong passions for jazz and wordplay.

His version of the Cortázar’s novel, Hopscotch, Rabassa shared the inaugural U.S. National Book Award in Translation.

He taught at Queens College, from which he retired with the title Distinguished Professor Emeritus.

During 2006, Gregory was awarded the National Medal of Arts.

He has sometimes translated without reading the book beforehand.

Gregory Rabassa wrote a memoir of his experiences as a translator, If This Be Treason: Translation and Its Dyscontents, A Memoir, which was a Los Angeles Times “Favorite Book of the Year” for 2005 and for which he received the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for the Art of the Memoir in 2006.

He died at a hospice in Branford, Connecticut.

Gregory Rabassa passed away at 94 yrs old.