Bullock, Michael

Michael Bullock

Ronsdale books translated by Michael Bullock:

  1. The City in the Egg (by Michel Tremblay)
  2. Max Frisch: Three Plays (by Max Frisch)

Michael Bullock (1918–2008), himself a novelist and poet, was for many years the official translator of Max Frisch. His translations of books and plays from French and German number close to 200 and have received many awards, including the Canada Council French Translation Award (1979) for his translation of Michel Tremblay’s first collection of stories, Stories for Late Night Drinkers.

Michael studied at Hornsey College of Art in London, UK, and from 1952 to 1968 he worked as a freelance writer and translator. In 1968, he came to Canada as a Commonwealth Fellow at UBC, encouraged to teach at the university by J. Michael Yates. In 1969 he was the McGuffey Visiting Professor of English at Ohio University. In 1970 he joined the Creative Writing Department at UBC, where he was also head of the translation program, retiring as professor emeritus in 1983. In 1994 he was New Asia Ming Yu Visiting Scholar at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Greatly influenced by surrealism in his early years, Bullock wrote a surrealistic novella, Randolph Cranstone and the Glass Thimble (1977), that was a British New Fiction Society Book of the Month. His translations include André Carpentier’s collection of Gothic tales, Bread of the Birds (Ekstasis, 1993). He is the subject of a critical book by UBC English professor and friend Jack Stewart, The Incandescent Word, published in 1990. In 1998, his Selected Poems 1938–1993 were published in China, chosen and translated by Dong Jiping. In 1999, The Walled Garden (Ekstasis) was published in China by Guang-Xi Nationalities Publishing. It was his fifth title to appear in Chinese. Ajmer Rode of Vancouver provided a Punjabi translation for One Hundred and One Surrealistic Poems, published in Amritsar in 1996.

Bullock celebrated his 85th birthday in the United Kingdom with a three-week retrospective exhibition of his books and artworks, under the title “Michael Bullock and his Universe”, at the Volume Gallery in London. A new poetry collection Colours was launched as both a printed book and as a CD. He marked his 90th birthday in England with the release of Seasons: Poems of the Turning Year, a collection of short, nature-inspired poems. Bullock published more than 50 books of literature, many of which were self-published.