Student's Book Translates Acclaimed Mexican Author

Jan. 31, 2012

George Henson, a PhD Candidate in Humanities, has recently translated a collection of short stories by prominent Mexican author Elena Poniatowska under the title The Heart of the Artichoke.

Henson said the collection of stories illustrates Mexico’s rich cultural tapestry.

“These are stories about servants and matriarchs, street sweepers and sorceresses, shop keepers, nannies, mothers, travelers and addicts. They are stories of broken lives and broken hearts, of betrayal and rebirth,” said Henson.

“These are stories about servants and matriarchs, street sweepers and sorceresses, shop keepers, nannies, mothers, travelers and addicts.”

George Henson,
doctoral student

Henson is working under Dr. Charles Hatfield, assistant director of the Center for Translation Studies, for his dissertation.

 “Henson displays a careful sensitivity to the nuances of Poniatowka's Spanish. That is something to be admired,” said Hatfield.

Translating Poniatowska’s characteristically Mexican vernacular, which included contemporary drug slang, was challenging, and required collaboration with the author, said Henson, who is also a senior lecturer in Spanish at UT Dallas.

“Elena’s prose is beautifully lyrical, but her syntax can be very complex. The challenge was to honor the poetic quality of the language, to render it in a voice that would be familiar to the American ear, while at the same time finding a way to rework the complex sentence structure that Spanish allows but English doesn’t,” added Henson.

Poniatowska gained international acclaim in 1969 with the publication Here’s to You, Jesusa! Her 1971 book, Massacre in Mexico, earned her the Premio Xavier Villaurrutia, Mexico’s most prestigious literary prize, which she declined on political grounds.

In 2002, she spoke at UT Dallas as part of the Center for U.S. – Mexico Studies lecture series.

“The translation not only will amplify the audience of readers of Ms. Poniatowska’s work, but also will allow English readers to be exposed to Mexican characters that have become more and more representative of Mexico. The translation will enrich the conversation and understanding of Mexican history and culture among English speaking readers,” said Rodolfo Hernandez, director of the Center for U.S.-Mexico Studies.

Media Contact: Chaz Lilly, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2158, [email protected]
or the Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].

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George Henson, a PhD Candidate in Humanities


UT Dallas student George Henson says Elena Poniatowska’s The Heart of the Artichoke captures Mexico's rich cultural tapestry. His translation of the volume of short stories has been published by Alligator Press.The Heart of the Artichoke by Elena Poniatowska

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July 23, 2018