Adriana V. Lopez has a nice interview with translator Edith Grossman on bookforum.com; I was hooked right away by the photo of her standing in front of several of the “ubiquitous wooden bookshelves, tall and short” that line the rooms of her Upper West Side apartment. Here’s how she got started:
[Editor Ronald] Christ asked Grossman to translate Argentine writer Macedonio Fernández’s short story “The Surgery of Psychic Removal,” about erasing memory. Grossman was hesitant. “I said ‘Ronald, I’m not a translator, I’m a critic.’ And he said, ‘Call yourself whatever you want. Try this.’” Grossman recalls loving the work. Other projects followed, including a novel by Peruvian writer Manuel Scorza published by Harper & Row in 1977. Then came the García Márquez offer. She recalls that an agent who lived in her building called her and flat out asked, “Edie, you interested in translating García Márquez?” Grossman rolls her eyes and puffs her mouth out reliving the day and says she replied, “What? Of course I’m interested.” Grossman submitted a twenty-page sample translation of Love in the Time of Cholera to Knopf and was chosen. “I knew this Colombian writer was eccentric when he wrote me saying that he doesn’t use adverbs ending with –mente in Spanish and would like to avoid adverbs ending in -ly in English.” She remembers thinking, what do you say in English except slowly? “Well, I came up with all types of things, like without haste.”
I like the ending too:
Grossman is a reader’s reader, happy to have gotten cheap paperbacks from neighborhood stores like the old Shakespeare & Co., Labyrinth Books (now Bookculture), and Papyrus (now Morningside Bookshop). It’s about the content, not covers or first editions. “I like to buy books on the street, too, but I’m wary of it now because of bed bugs.” Her collection has also been fed by the places she traveled to in her youth. She grins large: “My clothes used to fit in an overnight bag. But my books took up trunks and trunks.”
Thanks for the link, Paul!