Translator's Note: Victorio Ferri Tells a Story

Cythia Steele

Sergio Pitol Demeneghi (b. 1933 in Puebla) is arguably Mexico’s greatest living short-story writer, novelist, and translator. He was raised in the countryside of Veracruz. After studying law and philosophy in Mexico City, he served for thirty years as a cultural attaché in Mexican embassies throughout Eastern and Western Europe. In 2005 Pitol was awarded the Cervantes Prize, the most prestigious literary prize in the Spanish-speaking world. Beyond his own original novels and stories, he is one of Mexico’s most prominent literary translators from Russian, Polish and English, having translated Chekov, Gombrowicz, Conrad, James, Carroll, and Austen.

In their January 2013 issue Granta identified Pitol as one of the best untranslated writers in the world: Later in 2013 the Chicago Review published my translation of another of his short stories, “Mephisto Waltz.” This year Deep Vellum has published the first of Pitol’s novels in translation, The Art of Flight, translated by George Henson.

“Victorio Ferri Tells a Story” is the first short story that Pitol ever published, in 1957. Unlike most of his later stories, which are set in Europe and deal with cosmopolitan characters, this story, told by a madman, focuses on evil and interfamilial tragedy in rural Veracruz. As you will see, there are indications of a Faulknerian influence.


Click to read in the original Spanish: "Victorio Ferri Cuenta Un Cuento"or click to read the translation into English: "Victorio Ferri Tells a Story".