Translations

Bambi translated by Whittaker Chambers 1928

Among other things, Whittaker Chambers was a highly gifted linguist. He spoke more than a dozen languages, starting with native English, French from his mother, and German from a tutor. His personal library includes most Indo-European languages:

My mother had urged me to study Gaelic, the language of our forebears… I began to study Arabic, Persian, Hindustani, and the Assyrian of the cuneiform inscriptions… I presently picked up a rough smattering of the dialect [Rumanian Gypsy]… (Witness, p. 145)

At the time of his death in 1961, he had resumed his study of languages: Chinese, Latin, and Italian formally at Western Maryland College (now McDaniel College), as well as Classical Greek on his own.

This same gift for languages allowed Chambers to pass himsellf off as a European in front of many people — including spy apparatuses in Washington.

It also allowed him to earn extra income in moments of extreme poverty, namely 1928-1932 when he was at the fringes of the Communist Party and 1938-1939 when he defected from the Soviet espionage underground.

Most if not all of the translation work came through his Columbia College classmate, Clifton Fadiman.

TRANSLATIONS 1928-1940

Notes:

  1. Read the reviews in TIME and New York Times (“admirably translated”)
 

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