On April 1, 2010, Peter Bush, an award-winning literary translator living in Barcelona, discussed his new translation of Fernando de Rojas’s Renaissance masterpiece, Celestina. This translation re-asserts Celestina‘s power as a pioneering work of fiction, written over five hundred years ago in a language and mood that is thoroughly contemporary. De Rojas’s original mix of street wit, obscenity and cultured rhetoric mark Celestina as one of the first prose masterpieces of European literature and a work of art to rival Cervantes, Velázquez and Goya. In his talk, Bush examined the tradition of translating this classic and discussed the strategy informing his decision to dispense with the dramatic structure imposed by de Rojas’s original publishers at the end of the fifteenth century. He compared different versions of a specific extract in English and French to facilitate a critical exchange on the theory and practice of translation.
Peter Bush studied French and Spanish at Cambridge and researched Spanish fiction and history in Oxford. He was Professor of Literary Translation at Middesex University and at the University of East Anglia where he also directed the British Centre for Literary Translation. Recent projects include Juan Goytisolo’s Juan the Landless, Valle-Inclán’s Tirano Banderas and Najat El Hachmi’s The Last Patriarch. He edited The Translator as Writer (with Susan Basnett), a collection of essays by leading translators on the art of literary translation.
Fernando de Rojas was born in La Puebla de Montalbán in the early 1470s into a family whose Jewish forebears had been forced to convert to Christianity.