About the Author

Burton Raffel

[From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia]
            Burton Raffel (born 1928) is a translator, a poet and a teacher. He has translated many poems, including the Anglo-Saxon epic Beowulf, poems by Horace, and Gargantua and Pantagruel by François Rabelais. In 1964, Raffel recorded an album along with Robert P. Creed, on Folkways Records entitled: Lyrics from the Old English. In 1996, he published his translation of Miguel de Cervantes' Don Quixote, which has been acclaimed for making Cervantes more accessible to the modern generation. In 2006, Yale University Press published his new translation of the Nibelungenlied.
            Among his many edited and translated publications are Poems and Prose from the Old English, and Chrétien de Troyes' Cligès, Lancelot, the Knight of the Cart, Perceval, the Story of the Grail, Erec and Enide, and Yvain, the Knight of the Lion. Raffel is also a poet in his own right; over the years he has published numerous volumes of it; however, only one remains in print: Beethoven in Denver. Beethoven describes what happens when the dead composer visits Denver, Colorado in the late 1970s. Also set in Colorado was the Raffel-scripted film, The Legend of Alfred Packer, the first film version of the story of Alferd Packer. Burton Raffel was the Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Arts and Humanities and emeritus professor of English at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette until 2003. Raffel is currently working with Yale Press on a series of 14 annotated Shakespeare plays. In 2008 the Modern Library published his new translation of Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales.
Biographical Time-Line
(quoted from Gale Contemporary American Authors):

Admitted to the Bar of the State of New York, 1959. Brooklyn College (now Brooklyn College of the City University of New York), Brooklyn, NY, fellow and lecturer in English, 1950-51; Ford Foundation English Language Teacher Training Program, Makassar, Indonesia, instructor, 1953-55; Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy (attorneys), New York City, attorney, 1958-60; Foundation Library Center, New York City, editor of Foundation News, 1960-63; State University of New York at Stony Brook, instructor, 1964-65, assistant professor of English, 1965-66; State University of New York at Buffalo, associate professor of English, 1966-68; University of Texas at Austin, visiting professor, 1969-70, professor of English and classics and chairperson of graduate program in comparative literature, 1970-71; Ontario College of Art, Toronto, Ontario, senior tutor (dean), 1971-72; York University, Toronto, visiting professor of humanities, 1972-75; University of Denver, Denver, CO, professor of English, beginning 1975; University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Distinguished Professor of the Arts and Humanities, beginning 1989, now emeritus. Haifa University, visiting professor, 1968-69; Emory University, visiting professor, spring, 1974; University of Ottawa, Vanier Lecturer, 1978; National Humanities Faculty, member. Freelance writer and editor; radio and television broadcaster. Theatre in the Street, founding trustee. Two American Philosophical Society grants for a study of modern Indonesian poetry, 1964; two grants from Research Foundation of the State of New York for a study of the translation process; Frances Steloff Prize, 1978, for story in Panache; nominated for Citizens Chair, University of Hawaii, 1978-79; Translation Prize, French-American Foundation, 1991.

Raffel on the Current State of American Letters
(quoted from Gale Contemporary American Authors):

             “Writing fiction has become an increasingly chancy business in the past decade or so. Writing and publishing poetry is a good deal less chancy, perhaps because there are so many lively small presses and because, in any case, there are no financial rewards involved (or expected). In the year 2000, I published three dozen poems in various magazines. I have published a total of fifteen stories in small magazines, and two novels, written in collaboration with my wife, with a major New York publisher, and one short novel with a small press; more 'commercial' magazines, and more commercial book publishers, are at the moment not keen on literary writers in general and this writer in particular. (I have twenty or so novels, of varying lengths, complete and sitting in my files; I have five completed volumes of poetry in those same files.)
             “Although my own (non-translation) work has attracted some critical attention, it has gotten virtually no attention from publishers. I have, I think, a reasonably good overall perspective on the situation of the writer in America, and I do not like what I see. I find myself more and more discouraged, both as to my own prospects and the prospects of serious writers in general. The quality of judgment exhibited by commercial publishers (and the quality of the editors making those judgments) seems to me sharply in the decline. Like most serious writers, I go on writing because I have no choice, not because the rewards are large. [To put it] bluntly, they are not at all large, and most often they are non-existent.”


[Citation Details
Title: Biography - Raffel, Burton (1928-)
Author: Gale Reference Team
Publication: Contemporary Authors (Biography)
Date: 2003
Publisher: Thomson Gale]