March 22nd

Stephen Sondheim is 84 today. Sondheim has an Oscar, Tonys, Grammys and a Pulitzer. I’d be happy having written just one of his lyrics, “Send in the Clowns” for example, but there are “I Feel Pretty,” “Maria,” and “Tonight” just to name three from West Side Story.

Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber is 66. Webber has an Oscar, Tonys, Grammys and a knighthood. Cats, Evita, Jesus Christ Superstar, The Phantom of the Opera. Webber composed the music; Sir Tim Rice was the lyricist.

Wolf Blitzer is 66.

Bob Costas is 62.

Reese Witherspoon is 38. William Shatner is 83.

And Edith Grossman is 78. Grossman is the translator of Peruvian Mario Vargas Llosa, Spaniard Julián Ríos, Cuban-Puerto Rican Mayra Montero, and all of Colombian Gabriel García Márquez’s books. She has also translated Don Quixote, still considered by many the greatest novel ever.

Then a Latin American writer whom she translated, Julián Ríos, told her: “Don’t be afraid. Translate it the way you translate everybody else because he’s the most modern writer we have.” And besides, she realized, “Don Quixote is not essentially a puzzle for academics, a repository of Renaissance usage, a historical monument, or a text for the classroom. It is a work of literature.” And so she went to work on it.

The Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor