Renowned translator best known for rendering the robust Italian prose of Eco’s The Name of the Rose into nuanced English
By Ian Thomson
William Weaver, who has died aged 90, was the greatest of all Italian translators. Before him, the professional translator was considered little better than a superior sort of typist. Weaver helped to bring the art of translation out of obscurity and give it a literary credence and recognition. His versions of Italo Calvino and Umberto Eco are models of exactitude and seamless craft. Half jokingly, Eco said that Weaver’s translation of his metaphysical whodunnit The Name of the Rose (1980) was “much better than the original”. The novel sold more than 10m copies worldwide. Not since Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude had there been such a consensual success on the book market. Weaver made a fortune from the translation and was able to build an extension to his Tuscan villa from the proceeds (the “Eco chamber” he called it).
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