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Edith Grossman's Top Book Recommendations

Want to know what books Edith Grossman recommends on their reading list? We've researched interviews, social media posts, podcasts, and articles to build a comprehensive list of Edith Grossman's favorite book recommendations of all time.


Paul Celan

Poet, Survivor, Jew

Paul Celan, Europe's most compelling postwar poet, was a German-speaking, East European Jew. His writing exposes and illumines the wounds that Nazi destructiveness left on language. John Felstiner's sensitive and accessible book is the first critical biography of Celan in any language. It offers new translations of well-known and little-known poems—including a chapter on Celan's famous "Deathfugue"—plus his speeches, prose fiction, and letters. The book also presents hitherto unpublished photos of the poet and his circle.

Drawing on interviews with Celan's family and friends and...
Recommended by Edith Grossman, and 1 others.

Edith GrossmanPaul Celan’s poetry is just bloodcurdling. It was written in concentration camps – he was a victim of the Nazis. The poetry is incredibly intense and almost surreal in its use of imagery. I didn’t know much about him before I read Felstiner’s book. I knew his name but I hadn’t read anything of his. It was an overwhelming experience to read the poetry in Felstiner’s translation, and to read about... (Source)

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What goes into the translating of a poem? Usually that process gets forgotten once the new poem stands intact in translation. Yet a verse translation derives from historical, biographical, and philosophical research, interpretive analysis of the original poem, and continuous linguistic and prosodic choices that parallel those the poet made. Taking as a text Pablo Neruda's brilliant prophetic sequence Alturas de Macchu Picchu (1945), the author here re-creates the entire process of translation, from his first encounter with the poem to the last shaping of a phrase that may never come... more
Recommended by Edith Grossman, and 1 others.

Edith GrossmanIf you’re interested in translation – or even if you’re not – Felstiner has done wonderful work in these two books on Pablo Neruda and Paul Celan. He writes brilliantly about translation, which is very difficult to do. In both of these books he deals with very complex poets. (Source)

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The year: 1936. Europe dances while an invidious dictator establishes himself in Portugal. The city: Lisbon—gray, colorless, chimerical. Ricardo Reis, a doctor and poet, has just come home after 16 years in Brazil. less
Recommended by Edith Grossman, and 1 others.

Edith GrossmanI’ll tell you why I did that. A few years ago, I discovered two authors whom I confess I had known nothing about before, and I discovered them in translation. One was WG Sebald and the other was José Saramago. It was the shock of my life. I was stunned by The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis. I read it in Giovanni Pontiero’s translation and I was so overwhelmed by the book – both by Saramago’s... (Source)

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Don Quixote

The story follows the adventures of a hidalgo named Mr. Alonso Quixano who reads so many chivalric romances that he loses his sanity and decides to set out to revive chivalry, undo wrongs, and bring justice to the world, under the name Don Quixote de la Mancha. He recruits a simple farmer, Sancho Panza, as his squire, who often employs a unique, earthy wit in dealing with Don Quixote's rhetorical orations on antiquated knighthood. Don Quixote, in the first part of the book, does not see the world for what it is and prefers to imagine that he is living out a knightly story. Throughout the... more
Recommended by Edith Grossman, and 1 others.

Edith GrossmanI read this translation when I was a kid, 16 or 17 years old. I was so excited by the book, and so moved by it – it had me in tears. When I was young I thought Don Quixote was the greatest tragedy I had ever read. But as I get older I find it funnier and funnier. I think my sensitive skin toughened up as I grew older. That translation is one of the reasons why I specialised in Spanish and became... (Source)

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One Hundred Years of Solitude

The brilliant, bestselling, landmark novel that tells the story of the Buendia family, and chronicles the irreconcilable conflict between the desire for solitude and the need for love—in rich, imaginative prose that has come to define an entire genre known as "magical realism." less

Barack ObamaWhen asked what books he recommended to his 18-year-old daughter Malia, Obama gave the Times a list that included The Naked and the Dead and One Hundred Years of Solitude. “I think some of them were sort of the usual suspects […] I think she hadn’t read yet. Then there were some books that are not on everybody’s reading list these days, but I remembered as being interesting.” Here’s what he... (Source)

Oprah WinfreyBrace yourselves—One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez is as steamy, dense and sensual as the jungle that surrounds the surreal town of Macondo! (Source)

Richard BransonToday is World Book Day, a wonderful opportunity to address this #ChallengeRichard sent in by Mike Gonzalez of New Jersey: Make a list of your top 65 books to read in a lifetime. (Source)

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