Carol Bemis’s Tribute to Edith Grossman
Edith Grossman is honored on the occasion of her 80th birthday. One of the most celebrated literary translators of our time, Grossman has been praised for her translations of work by Gabriel García Márquez, Carlos Fuentes, Antonio Muñoz Molina, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, and many others. Her acclaimed 2003 translation of Cervantes’ Don Quixote is already considered a classic.
This tribute was written by Carol Bemis. She is the Vice President and Editor of W. W. Norton & Company.
Edith Grossman’s marvelous abilities as a translator were apparent from her days as a student at the University of Pennsylvania. It was there that she translated poems by Juan Ramón Jiménez, there that she was encouraged by her professors (reminding us all how especially important it is to encourage the young), and there that her now famous “translator’s intuition” first manifested itself. Her storied career—and milestone birthday—are cause for today’s celebration.
I had the great honor and pleasure of working with Edie on Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz: Selected Works (2014). Watching her give contemporary English voice to a seventeenth-century Mexican poet was witnessing artistry. No news there. What surprised me was how much fun it turned out to be to work with this legendary lady. From how best to render Sor Juana’s wordplay to which redondillas to include and why making day-to-day decisions with Edie was joyful—and never dull.
Here is to more good conversations about parenthood, plants, novels, and complex weather systems. Most of all, my dear friend, here is to you today. Happy Birthday.