Peter Constantine

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Peter Constantine
Peter Constantine, 2009
Born 1963
Occupation Translator, writer
Nationality United Kingdom, United States
Genre Translation

Peter Constantine (born 1963) is a British and American award-winning literary translator who has translated literary works from German, Russian, French, Modern Greek, Ancient Greek, Italian, Albanian, Dutch, and Slovene.


Constantine was born in London to an Austrian mother and a British father of Turkish and Greek descent. He grew up in Athens, Greece before moving to the United States in 1983. In his first books, Japanese Street Slang and Japanese Slang: Uncensored he explored Japanese slang and criminal jargons in their many varieties, focusing on aspects of the Japanese language that had been traditionally marginalised. "Previously unprintable things that will inform, amuse, shock and maybe even disgust" (Joseph LaPenta: Daily Yomiuri Newspaper, 6 December 1992).

In the early 1990s, Constantine began translating short stories and poetry from various European languages, publishing in literary magazines in the United States, Britain, and Australia. Since the publication of his first book-length translation, Thomas Mann: Six Early Stories, he has worked almost exclusively as a literary translator.

Contemporary Authors quotes Constantine: "I have always been interested in language in all its aspects. Working with master linguists such as Thomas Mann, Chekhov, Dostoevsky, and Babel has been particularly rewarding for me, since these writers push language to an extreme, and the translator has to vigorously mold the translation in order to try to recreate their effects." [1]


In 1998 Constantine received the PEN/Book-of-the-Month Club Translation Prize for his translation of Thomas Mann's Six Early Stories .[2] It was chosen by The New York Times as a Notable Book of the Year. In 1999 he was awarded the National Translation Award for The Undiscovered Chekhov: Thirty-Eight New Stories.[3] In 2002, Constantine's translation of The Complete Works of Isaac Babel, edited by Nathalie Babel, received a Koret Jewish Book Award and a National Jewish Book Award citation. His translation of the Modern Greek Poet Stylianos Harkianakis's poetry book Mother received the 2004/2005 Hellenic Association of Translators of Literature Prize. In 2007 Constantine was the recipient of the Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator's Prize for his translation of Benjamin Lebert's novel The Bird is a Raven.[4] His translation of The Essential Writings of Machiavelli was a finalist for the 2008 PEN/Book-of-the-Month Club Translation Prize. Peter Constantine is a 2012 Ellen Maria Gorrissen Berlin Prize Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin. In 2016, Constantine received an honorary doctorate, doctor of humane letters, from the University of Connecticut.[5]



  • Constantine, Peter (1992). Japanese Street Slang. foreword by James D. McCawley. New York: Tengu Books. ISBN 0-8348-0250-3. 
  • Constantine, Peter (1993). Japan's Sex Trade: A Journey Through Japan's Erotic Subcultures. Tokyo: Yen Books. ISBN 4-900737-00-3. 
  • Constantine, Peter (1994). Japanese Slang: Uncensored. Tokyo: Yen Books. ISBN 4-900737-03-8. 
  • Constantine, Peter (1994). Making Out in Indonesian. Tokyo: Yen Books. ISBN 4-900737-02-X. 
  • Constantine, Peter (1995). Making Out in Korean. Tokyo: Yen Books. ISBN 4-900737-33-X. 
  • Constantine, Peter (1998). Making Out in Vietnamese. Hong Kong: Periplus Editions. ISBN 4-900737-48-8. 
  • Constantine, Peter (1998). A Sucht B. Bern: Scherz Verlag. ISBN 3-502-12130-3. 
  • Constantine, Peter (2011). Japanese Street Slang (Completely Revised and Updated). foreword by James D. McCawley. New York: Weatherhill. ISBN 978-1-59030-848-6. 


  • Edited with Bien, Peter, Edmund Keeley, Karen Van Dyck (2004). A Century of Greek Poetry: 1900–2000. New Jersey: Kosmos Publishing. ISBN 1-932455-00-0. 
  • Edited with Bradford Morrow, and William Weaver (2002). Conjunctions: 38, Rejoicing Revoicing. New York: Bard College. ISBN 978-0-941964-54-8. 
  • Edited with Bradford Morrow (2001). Conjunctions: 31, Radical Shadows. New York: Bard College. ISBN 0-941964-47-7. 
  • The Caribbean Writer, Volume 12, 1998. Special Section: Poems by Celie Diaquoi Deslandes, edited and translated by Peter Constantine from the French.
  • The Caribbean Writer, Volume 10, 1996. Special Section: Surinamese short fiction by Paul Bandel, Hélène Ramjiawan, Anne Zeggen en Monique Pool. Edited and translated by Peter Constantine from the Dutch.


Translations and adaptations


  1. Constantine, Peter. Biography – (1963–): An article from: Contemporary Authors Online [HTML] (Digital). Farmington Hills, Michigan: Thomson Gale, 2007.
  2. "Book-of-the-Month-Club Translation Prize winners". PEN American Center. 2007. 
  3. "National Translation Award (past winners)". American Literary Translators Association. 2007. 
  4. "Peter Constantine recipient of the 2007 Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator's Prize". Goethe Institute. 2000. 
  5. "UConn Names 2016 Honorary Degree Recipients". University of Connecticut. 2016. 

External links