William Weaver, Renowned Translator, 1923 – 2013
I found out that translator William Weaver passed away a few days ago, at the age of 90. It’s an odd thing, but Weaver had a significant influence on me, as it was his translations of Italo Calvino that I read (and loved).
However I found Calvino, it wasn’t until many years later that I realized how strong Weaver’s influence was for me. I had read a ton by Calvino… and after 4 or 5 books, I picked up a copy of The Baron in the Trees. Unlike all the prior books I had read by Calvino, this one felt off to me. I didn’t like it, and it just felt like a drastic shift in his writing style.
I realized, on closer inspection, that the translator was different. All the Calvino books I had read were translated by Weaver, and this one was not. So strong was Weaver’s skill that any other translator felt foreign to me. It blew me away how much I identified with Weaver’s translations… so much so that a favorite author in another translator’s hands became someone completely different to me.
Weaver had a very rich life. In terms of killer lines in an obituary, check this out:
In terms of literary rockstar bad-assery… it’s hard to get much better than this.
Thank you, Mr. Weaver, for your translations of Italo Calvino. Your words helped me hear his words, and for that I am immensely grateful.