Janez Gradišnik

1. 1. 2014

01_Janez_GradisnikJanez Gradišnik (22 September 1917, Stražišče, Ravne na Koroškem – 5 March 2009, Ljubljana), widely regarded as one of the greatest Slovenian translators, studied education at the University of Ljubljana and began his military service after receiving his bachelor’s degree in 1940. During Germany’s invasion of Yugoslavia the following year, he was captured by the German armed forces and sent to a German detention camp. After being released in 1942, he spent the rest of the war in Croatia. After the end of the war, he worked in Belgrade at the Ministry for Slovenia for a short time, but returned to Slovenia in 1946 and accepted the position of editor at the State Press of Slovenia (Državna založba Slovenije), where his first literary translations were also published. Because of his ties with the political dissident Edvard Kocbek, Gradišnik was monitored by the Yugoslav secret police (UDBA), resulting in the loss of his job at the press in 1952. After that he made his living as a freelance translator and mainly translated literary works from

- English (Hemingway, Twain, Joyce, Kipling, Lewis, Huxley, Eliot, London),
- German (Mann, Hesse, Böll, Musil, Kafka),
- French (Verne, Malraux, Camus),
- Serbian (Ćosić, Isaković), and
- Russian (Bulgakov).

He also devoted his time to translation criticism, wrote several books on Slovenian, authored some works of fiction, and served as editor-in-chief of a cultural magazine. He received many honors for his work as a translator (Jug-Kranjec 1987: 58–60; Pibernik 2009: 109–113). He was the recipient of the Prešeren Award for his lifetime achievement and was the first to receive this honor primarily for translation work. The statement accompanying this most prestigious Slovenian cultural award included the following: “Excellent literary translations are at the core of his craft, and time and time again along his entire creative path he has managed to combine the original text with the special features of the Slovenian target environment” (Smasek 2007).

by Janko Trupej


Jug-Kranjec, Hermina. 1987. Janez Gradišnik – sedemdesetletnik. Jezik in slovstvo 33(3): 58–60.
Pibernik, France. 2009. Janez Gradišnik 1917–2009. Celje: Celjska Mohorjeva družba.
Smasek, Uroš. 2007. Prešernova lavreata Janez Gradišnik in Miljenko Licul. Večer (4 December 2007).

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