Sunday, November 17, 2013

William Weaver has died

William Weaver has died in Rhinebeck, New York, aged 90, as reported in the New York Times. Weaver was a distinguished translator from Italian into English, who, like so many translators, fell into the job. But in his case (it is not always so) he acquitted himself admirably, bringing new distinction and recognition to the often thankless work of the professional translator.

The Princeton-educated Virginian learned Italian informally after the war, and knew many figures from the robust cultural scene in Italy at that time. After living in Naples and Rome, he resided in Tuscany for many years, like so many cultivated English-speakers, then and now. He translated widely in modern Italian literature- to enumerate his translations is a sort of survey course in the subject. He was also an opera lover who translated librettos and wrote about opera. In later years, he taught translation at Bard College, and loved teaching. A life well-lived, I would say.

For more about the life and work of this interesting man, read this long article in The Paris Review.

For those of you who are curious about the craft of the literary translator, and may have been inclined to neglect it, see this piece in which he describes the process of translating the inimitable Carlo Emilio Gadda.