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Translator
Daniel Balderston is the Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Modern Languages at the University of Pittsburgh, where he chairs the Department of Hispanic Languages and Literatures and directs the Borges Center. He is currently completing his seventh book on Borges, titled How Borges Wrote. He has edited numerous books, including Voice-Overs: Translation and Latin American Literature, and has also translated books by José Bianco, Juan Carlos Onetti, Sylvia Molloy, and Ricardo Piglia.
Silvina Ocampo (1903–1993) was a central figure of Argentine literary circles. She was an early contributor to Argentina's Sur magazine, where she worked closely with its founder, her sister Victoria Ocampo; Adolfo Bioy Casares, her husband; and Jorge Luis Borges. (Photo credit: Adolfo Bioy Casares)
May 14, 2015 | 6:00pm

Two Voices Salon: Daniel Balderston on Argentine Author Silvina Ocampo

Center for the Art of Translation | 582 Market Street, Suite 700 | San Francisco, CA

This event has already taken place.

We’ll talk via Skype with Daniel Balderston, translator of Silvina Ocampo’s Thus Were Their Faces, a new release from NYRB Classics.

Thus Were Their Faces is a collection of Ocampo’s short fiction. Silvina Ocampo (1903-1993) was an Argentine writer “considered one of the twentieth century’s great masters of the story and the novella.”


Audio Table of Contents

0:00 Introductions

1:24: Daniel’s history with Silvina Ocampo and Argentina during the era of Bioy, Borges, and Ocampo

9:22 The details of Ocampo’s neglect during her life in Argentina, and the huge expansion of interest after her death

15:10 How the word “cruel” relates to Ocampo’s work and why people like to call her work “cruel”

18:50 The strangeness of the child narrators in Ocampo’s stories and preponderance of strange deaths (often narrated in a “light” way)

20:20 The element of the fantastic in Ocampo’s work

22:05 What distinguishes Ocampo’s fantastic literature from that of Borges and Bioy, and the relationship of Ocampo’s Irene to Borges’s Funes the Memorious

26:25 The fortune that Ocampo read for Daniel

27:15 The reasons Ocampo was overlooked during her lifetime

30:15 Ocampo’s relationship to Alejandra Pizarnik: influence on one another’s writing and their love affair

32:20 Ocampo’s ability to write about horror in a deadpan way and its influence on Pizarnik

34:40 The question of femininity and femininism in Ocampo’s writing

37:25 The selection criteria for the NYRB Classics volume

42:30 Bioy’s impact on Ocampo’s writing and revisions of her work

43:50 What untranslated books by Ocampo would you like to see translated into English?

45:50 The question of madness in Ocampo’s works

47:05 Challenges to translating Ocampo, in particular with regards to Ocampo’s use of gender, and the most difficult-to-translate sentence in the entire collection

52:15 Ocampo as a poet

56:40 William Carlos Williams as a translator of Ocampo’s poetry

1:01:10 Q & A

Translator
Daniel Balderston is the Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Modern Languages at the University of Pittsburgh, where he chairs the Department of Hispanic Languages and Literatures and directs the Borges Center. He is currently completing his seventh book on Borges, titled How Borges Wrote. He has edited numerous books, including Voice-Overs: Translation and Latin American Literature, and has also translated books by José Bianco, Juan Carlos Onetti, Sylvia Molloy, and Ricardo Piglia.
Silvina Ocampo (1903–1993) was a central figure of Argentine literary circles. She was an early contributor to Argentina's Sur magazine, where she worked closely with its founder, her sister Victoria Ocampo; Adolfo Bioy Casares, her husband; and Jorge Luis Borges. (Photo credit: Adolfo Bioy Casares)