“Translating an Unreadable Novel: The Lost Steps in the United States.” Pterodáctilo 11. Fall 2012.
Alejo Carpentier’s canonical novel Los pasos perdidos (Cuba, 1953) had a rocky reception when it was first translated into English and published in the United States in 1956. Originally hailed by publishers at Knopf with great enthusiasm, the novel ultimately was seen as a major flop: “The severest disappointment I have known as a publisher’s editor” in the words of Herbert Weinstock. This article draws on archival records from the Knopf collection at the Harry Ransom Center to understand how the process of editing, translation, and publicity impacted reception of The Lost Steps in the United States.