Juan González-Blanco de Luaces (1906-1963)

Language: Spanish

Jane Eyre translation: 1943

One of the most prolific translators of the postwar period, with more than one hundred books published in the decades of 1940 and 1950. Raised in a family of intellectuals who had kept close contacts with prominent representatives of Spanish culture – such as Ortega y Gasset, Manuel and Antonio Machado, Miguel de Unamuno and Rubén Darío –, he belonged as a young man to the Presidential Republican Party of Spain; his commitment and militancy led him to play different roles.

Before the age of twenty, his poem book Saetas de Oro (1925) appeared. It was followed by the historical novel The Loves of Cleopatra (1928) and the biography The Dramatic life of Miguel Bakunin (1930). Later came the War of the Frogs (1947), The Vertical City (1948), the Nave of the Hundred Condemned (1949), The Footprint of the Night (1949) and a Man of Good Luck (1950). Other titles did not succeed in evading censorship. In this sense, his trajectory, like that of many other Spanish writers, was truncated by the outbreak of the Civil War: his work began to be rejected by publishers and he tried several times to flee Spain. During one of these failed attempts, he was detained and spent a few months in prison.

After a short stay in Portugal, he went to Barcelona with his family, where he contacted several editors and began to do commissioned translations. Luis Miracle was the first in a long list to trust in his talents as a translator and who introduced him to the translation market. His first assignment was A Woman from Lisbon, by the Portuguese writer Joaquim Paços D’Arcos. Many other editors hired him: José Manuel Lara, Joaquín Gil of the editorial Iberia, and Josep Janés. He also collaborated with important publishers of the time such as Juventud, Argos, Destino, Éxito, and Mateu.

He mainly translated authors from English: the sisters Emily and Charlotte Brontë, Joseph Conrad, Geoffrey Chaucer, Pearl S. Buck, William Somerset Maugham, Charles Dickens, Fenimore Cooper, Rosamond Lehmann, Winston Churchill, Pelham Grenville Wodehouse, Margaret Mitchell, Jonathan Swift and many others. He also signed Spanish versions of works by the Italian Milly Dandolo, the Frenchmen Octave Aubry and André Maurois, and the Russians Feodor Dostoevsky and Ivan Turgenev. From his position as a translator, G. de Luaces constituted a clear exponent of what has been called ‘inner exile’, fighting against the dominant discourse of the regime.

Text by Andrés Claro