Gregory Rabassa

RIP Gregory Rabassa, translator of many Brazilian books

Gregory Rabassa passed away yesterday (June 13) at a hospice in Branford, Connecticut. He was 94. Professor of Spanish and Portuguese, and translator of many of the greatest Latin American authors, Rabassa translated into English Machado de Assis, Carlos Drummond de Andrade, Osman Lins, Clarice Lispector and Jorge Amado.

See an interview with Gregory Rabassa conducted by Elizabeth Lowe in 2007 at the annual conference American Literary Translators Association about his translation process – and the impossibility of translation. And below, Gregory Rabassa reads his 1992 Poem ‘This Dream’ on his 92nd birthday party at the Russian Samovar on 52nd St. in NYC.

He was also the author of If This Be Treason: Translation and Its Dyscontents


Captains of the Sand

Original title: Capitães da areia (1937)
Author: Jorge Amado
Translator: Gregory Rabassa

Captains of the Sand is a fine book from Amado’s early more politically and socially focused period of work and was first published in Brazil in 1937. Seventy-odd years later it becomes a book with a new relevance — as a lively portrait of a gang of ‘street children’, now seen as a rising social problem in Latin America’s cities. It is clear from Amado’s sympathetic and well-thought out narrative that this is not a new problem: children were already detaching themselves from, or being abandoned by, fractured families existing in such precariousness that even minimal care for children was impossible. Although there is a documentary intent in Captains of the Sand its romantic title already suggests that Amado wanted to create a lyrical, ‘legendary’ form for his story of a group of abandoned, mainly Black, children in Salvador da Bahia in North-Eastern Brazil. Amado’s legend is linked in with the legendary bandit Lampião, a backlands Robin Hood, reminding us that fashionable ‘Afro’ Bahia has, like Brazil in general, a large hinterland of maltreated peasants and labourers, whose heroes have often been ‘social bandits’ like Lampião.” (This is an excerpt of a review by Ray Keenly, at Babel Guide to Brazilian Fiction, Boulevard Books, 2001)

Captains of the Sands_Jorge Amado

Series: Penguin Classics
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reprint edition (June 25, 2013)
Translator: Gregory Rabassa
ISBN-10: 014310635X
ISBN-13: 978-0143106357
Click here to buy this book.

The Apple in the Dark

Original title: A maçã no escuro (1961)
Author: Clarice Lispector
Translator: Gregory Rabassa

A man wanders through the deserted backlands in search of a new beginning. He wants to escape from the city, forget the past, start his life from scratch, even to the extent of learning how to see, speak and write anew, because modern society has driven him to the brink of madness and he has committed a crime. The man, Martim, reaches an isolated farm where he is begrudgingly employed by the owner, the frosty, authoritarian Vitória, and where he becomes a source of fascination for her young widowed sister-in-law Ermelinda. A complicated emotional triangle forms between these three as Martim empathises intellectually with Vítoria but desires Ermelinda physically. Each of the characters is restless and dissatisfied with their sense of identity: Martim is plagued by existential anguish, Ermelinda longs for self-validation and security, and Vitória struggles to disguise her fear that she has wasted her life and her femininity by devoting herself to the farm. (This is an excerpt of a review by Claire Williams, at Babel Guide to Brazilian Fiction, Boulevard Books, 2001)

Apple in The Dark_Clarice Lispector

Hardcover: 384 pages
Published by Virago New Fiction, 1985
Translator: Gregory Rabassa
ISBN 10: 0860685500 
ISBN 13: 9780860685500
Click here to buy this book

The Apple In The Dark_2_Clarice Lispector

Paperback: 361 pages
 Publisher: University of Texas Press (31 Dec. 1986)
 Translator: Gregory Rabassa
 ISBN-10: 0292703929
 ISBN-13: 978-0292703926
 Click here to buy this book

The Apple In The Dark_Clarice Lispector

 Hardcover: 445 pages
 Publisher: Haus Publishing (1 Oct. 2009)
 Translator: Gregory Rabassa
 Introduction by Benjamin Moser
 ISBN-10: 1906598452
 ISBN-13: 978-1906598457
 Click here to buy this book

Travelling in the Family

Original title: selected poems from a number of books
Author: Carlos Drummond de Andrade
Translators: Elizabeth Bishop, Gregory Rabassa, Thomas Colchie and Mark Strand

Selected from work of 60 years, many of these poems center on Drummond’s childhood and home region (Minas Gerais), his father, and his family. Equally engaging for their humor, understanding, melancholy, and whimsy are the many poems about love and his people, where the poet’s artfully contrived “naive” persona seems to bumble along, all the while making pointed, often poignant observations a Latin American Charlie Chaplin, as it were. Like “Carlitos,” Carlos Drummond has great charm and not a little bitter wisdom amid the seemingly improvised wordplay. (Source: Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association)

Travelling in the Family_Carlos Drummond de Andrade

Paperback: 134 pages
Publisher: Random House USA Inc; American ed edition (26 Sept. 1988)
Translators: Elizabeth Bishop, Gregory Rabassa, Thomas Colchie and Mark Strand
ISBN-10: 0394747518
ISBN-13: 978-0394747514
Click here to buy this book

Travelling in the Family_2_Carlos Drummond de Andrade

 Paperback: 100 pages
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Co.; Reprint edition (25 Sept. 1996)
Translators: Elizabeth Bishop, Gregory Rabassa, Thomas Colchie and Mark Strand 
ISBN-10: 0880014342
ISBN-13: 978-0880014342
Click here to buy this book

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