Many years ago I read Gabriel Garcia Marquez' novel, "One Hundred Years of Solitude" for the first time. I was entranced by the tale of Macondo and its populace, the poetic elegance of the language, and the author's ability to turn the written page into a magic carpet. I was living in Latin America back then and just beginning to speak Spanish, so I read the novel in English. I didn't really credit the translator's work very much, sad to say. I was young. What did I know? However, the narrative was, and is, written in such an exquisite manner that I took note of the translator's name, Gregory Rabassa. A few years later, still living south of the border, my ability to speak the language had improved significantly - for which I am thankful! I reread Marquez' masterpiece, this time in Spanish, and remembering the English version I was struck at the accuracy of Mr. Rabassa's translation. Not only had he interpreted the author's text from Spanish into English with exactitude, (the words, their meaning, correct grammar, syntax, and idioms), he brilliantly communicated the culture of coastal Colombia, the author's writing style, in fact, his very voice. Most extraordinarily, however, he was able to capture the lilt, lyricism, and love of language. This ability to transcend linguistic and cultural borders, proves Gregory Rabassa is a gifted writer and poet in his own right. I'm a big fan!
I cannot think of another who has had such an impact on Latin American literature. Through him English-speakers, worldwide, have been able to appreciate the works of such notable authors as: Octavio Paz, Miguel Angel Asturias, Julio Cortázar, Mario Vargas Llosa, Jorge Amado, Antönio Lobo Antunes, and, of course, Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
When I discovered that Mr. Rabassa had written a memoir, "If This Be Treason: Translation And Its Dyscontents-A Memoir," I couldn't wait to read it. I have done so, and enjoyed every page. Not only does he discuss his own fascinating life, he writes about so many talented authors, whose books I have loved, and his collaboration with them. His writing style is conversational, witty, and provocative in its honesty. One feels as if seated at the table with him, over a good cup of coffee or a bottle of wine, listening to tales of the people, anecdotes and incidents which have been so important in his life.
Also included are essays on the writers he has worked with and the books he has brought into English. These memoirs make for an excellent read - especially for those who have loved the novels Gregory Rabassa has translated. Kudos to the author!!