Gregory Rabassa, 94, revered American literary translator from Spanish and Portuguese to English, died June 13, in Branford, Connecticut.
He translated major works by Portuguese, Brazilian and Latin American novelists, including Gabriel García Márquez, Julio Cortázar, Mario Vargas Llosa, Jorge Amado, Clarice Lispector, and Machado de Assis among many others.
Gregory Rabassa translated works by Portuguese writers Bernadim Ribeiro, António Vieira, Eça de Queirós, António Lobo Antunes, Mário de Carvalho, and João de Melo – namely Bernadim Ribeiro’s Menina e Moça (1554); António Vieira, Sermão de Santo António aos Peixes (1654); Eça de Queirós’s Correspondência de Fradiques Mendes (1900) and São Cristóvão; António Lobo Antunes’s Fado Alexandrino (1983), As Naus (1988), and Que Farei Quando Tudo Arde? (2001); Mário de Carvalho’s Um Deus Passeando pela Brisa da Tarde (1994); and João de Melo’s O Meu Mundo Não é Deste Reino (1983).
“He’s the godfather of us all,” Edith Grossman, the acclaimed translator of Don Quixote and several García Márquez books, told The Associated Press on Tuesday. “He’s the one who introduced Latin-American literature in a serious way to the English speaking world,” he said.
Universally praised for his translation of García Márquez’s novel One Hundred Years of Solitude, García Márquez often praised Rabassa, saying he regarded the translation of “Solitude” as a work of art in its own right. García Márquez was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature in 1982.
Rabassa was the recipient of many distinctions and awards including the ‘PEN Translation Prize’ (1977) and the ‘PEN/Ralph Manheim Medal for Translation’ (1982). In 2001, Rabassa was honored with the ‘Gregory Kolovakos Award’ from PEN American Center and received the ‘National Medal of Arts’ in 2006.
His memoir, If This Be Treason: Translation and Its Dyscontents, reflecting his experiences as a translator, was named by the Los Angeles Times ‘Favorite Book of the Year’ (2005) and received the ‘PEN/Martha Albrand Award for the Art of the Memoir'(2006).
Gregory Rabassa was born in Yonkers, New York, of Cuban and Scottish heritage. He taught for many years at Columbia University and Queens College. Survivors include his second wife, Clementine; daughters Kate Rabassa Wallen and Clara Rabassa, and granddaughters Jennifer Wallen and Sarah Wallen.
- Orbituary: Gregory Rabassa, translator of Latin American masterworks, dies at 94 – Washington Post
- Gregory Rabassa, a Translator of Spanish and Portuguese Fiction, Dies at 94 – The New York Times