Burton Raffel

Writer / See Indonesianist


He was born in New York City (Apr 27, 1928), and died in Lafayette, Louisiana (Sep 29, 2015)



Burton Nathan Raffel was an American translator, a poet and a teacher. He is best known for his translation of Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote, as well as classic poetry like Beowulf, poems byHorace, or Gargantua and Pantagruel.1

Burton Raffel spent two years in Indonesia in the early 1950’s as an English language instructor under a Ford Foundation program. While there he began translating Indonesian poetry with the help of Nurdin Salam, one of his students; this collaboration resulted in the publication of Chairil Anwar: Selected Poems.Later he published An Anthology of Modern Indonesian Poetry, one of the few sources of this poetry available to readers of English. Public readings and lectures on Indonesian poetry led him to the research which resulted in the present volume.

Mr. Raffel has also translated from the French, Spanish, Dutch, and Anglo-Saxon, and has done collaborative translations from Thai, Urdu, and Vietnamese. His publications include Poems From the Old English, Beowulf, Short Story 3 (with Robert Creeley and others), and numerous translations and articles on Eastern and other poetry. As might be expected, he is also a poet in his own right, and his poems have appeared widely in the literary magazines and anthologies.

He earned his B.A. at Brooklyn college, his master’s at Ohio State University, and his LL.B. (he is a member of the New York State bar) at Yale. In addition to his Indonesian teaching assignment, he has taught at Brooklyn College, Ohio State, State University of New York at Stony Brook, and is presently Associate Professor of English at State University of New York at Buffalo.2


  1. Wikipedia 

  2. SunyPress 


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