An Additional Comment on Borges’ English Translations


thegardenofbranchingpaths_0000901289693.0.xdoctorbrodiesreportRegretfully, I copied the English titles of Borges stories as shown in Wikipedia, those on Borges’ Collected Fictions, translated by Andrew Hurley (Penguin, 1999).

A comment from Todd Mason pointed out to me that di Giovanni translations –Borges’s best-known English translator– were allowed to go out of print after Borges death. Maria Kodama, sole owner of his estate, renegotiated the English translation rights of his works. In particular, she terminated a longstanding agreement between Borges and the translator Norman Thomas di Giovanni under which royalties for a number of translations on which they collaborated were divided equally between author and translator. New translations by Andrew Hurley were commissioned and published to replace di Giovanni translations. (Source: Wikipedia)

Di Giovanni translations, many of which were co-copyrighted between Borges and di Giovanni himself, are no longer in print. Di Giovanni was not even allowed to self-publish his own works on his website and was forced to remove them. His translations are now a collectors item.

Jorge Luis Borges’s lost translations

The Borges Papers by Norman Thomas di Giovanni.

The Garden of Branching Paths” by Jorge Luis Borges translated by Norman Thomas di Giovanni. Original title: “El jardin de senderos que se bifurcan”, 1941

Streetcorner Man” by Jorge Luis Borges translated by Norman Thomas di Giovanni. Original title: “Hombre de la esquina rosada” , 1935

Rosendo’s Tale” by Jorge Luis Borges translated by Norman Thomas di Giovanni. Original title: “Historia de Rosendo Juárez”, 1970

You can access Norman Thomas di Giovanni translations clicking on the titles.

Norman Thomas di Giovanni (3 October 1933 – 16 February 2017) was an American-born editor and translator known for his collaboration with Argentine author Jorge Luis Borges. Norman Thomas di Giovanni was born in Newton, Massachusetts, in 1933, and was graduated from Antioch College in 1955. He met Borges in 1967 while the latter was at Harvard. In 1968, on Borges’ invitation, he went to live in Buenos Aires, where he works with the author in daily sessions. Together they produced several Borges’ books in English versions. The first of these, The Book of Imaginary Beings, was published in 1969, and the second, The Aleph and Other Stories 1933-1969, in 1970. Di Giovanni has also edited Borges’ Selected Poems 1923-1967.

Norman Thomas di Giovanni obituary

It won’t be fair to finish without quoting the last sentence of Jorge Luis Borges’s lost translations, an article in The Guardian: “It’s copyrighted in Borges’s and my name because they’re not just translations – it’s stuff we wrote together in English,” he [Di Giovanni] said. And while Hurley’s translations are competent, the fact remains that some of Borges’s original works are effectively hidden from the reading public.

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