Episode 261 – Robert Weil

Virtual Memories Show 261: Robert Weil

“Translation editing is all about the idiom.”

Liveright Publishing editor-in-chief Robert Weil joins the show on the eve of this year’s Festival Neue Literatur to talk about editing translations, why great translators are heroes (and ought to get credited on book covers), and his admiration/adoration for Barbara Perlmutter, winner of this year’s Friedich Ulfers Prize. Along the way, we talk about the nuts-and-bolts of editing writers and why good writers want to be edited, the ongoing relevance of The Scarlet Letter and our Hawthorne vs. Melville takes, the most haunting line of Henry Roth (“The grave is a barrier to all amends, all redress”), and Robert’s incredible run of graphic novels (think Will Eisner, Robert Crumb, Jules Feiffer, and David Small). Plus, we bond over the fact that he edited one of my all-time favorite books: Clive James’ Cultural Amnesia! Give it a listen! And go to the Festival Neue Literatur this weekend (March 22-25 in NYC)!

“Barbara Perlmutter’s longevity, bridging German literature and American literature, is unrivaled.”

“The best writers really want to be edited.”

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes!

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About our Guest

Robert Weil, born in Manhattan, was raised by a German-born father and a German-born mother who grew up in Sweden. He graduated from Yale University in 1977 with a degree in History. Mr. Weil lives in New York City and has lectured all over the United States as well as in Germany. He has worked in publishing since 1978, and, since 1998, at W. W. Norton & Company, the oldest independent and employee-owned publishing company in the United States. At Norton he served as an Executive Editor/V.P. until July of 2011, and since then has been the Editor-in-Chief and Publishing Director of Liveright. Over the course of 40 years in mainstream American publishing, Mr. Weil has acquired and edited approximately 500 books in a wide variety of fields.

Credits: This episode’s music is Nothing’s Gonna Bring Me Down by David Baerwald, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at Mr. Weil’s office on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 Microphones feeding into a Zoom H5 digital recorder. I recorded the intro and outro with the same equipment in a hotel in midtown Manhattan. Photo of Mr. Weil by me. It’s on my instagram.

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