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John Felstiner: Poet, Translator, and Scholar - July 19, 2017

I am late to this news, living so far now from Stanford, but I’m saddened to learn that John Felstiner, the great translator, died last February of aphasia. The condition “leads to a loss of ability to understand and express language.” Few deaths could be crueler. When I arrived in Palo Alto in 2010, Felstiner had just retired. This didn’t prevent him from contributing an essay to Mantis 12, reading Rilke at a release party, or entertaining the questions of a poet and translator who didn’t much like graduate school: me. He was kind, welcoming, and immensely talented. I recommend his Translating Neruda: The Way to Macchu Picchu (1980) to anyone interested in how languages move.

Derek Mong