Lee Chadeayne ’55 has provided Amazon Publishing, which has recently made a major commitment to enter the market of foreign literature in English translation, with their first novel, already resulting in over 1 million copies sold.
Chadeayne represents a link between German authors and English-speaking readers who previously could not access such culturally significant work. His translation of Oliver Pötzsch’s historical thriller, The Hangman’s Daughter has started the process of chipping away this language barrier in reading.
He has had experience as a translator for decades and used to teach German to college students. While retirement was an option, translation isn’t work for Chadeayne, but something he wants to do. He remarked, “Translation is wonderful because I can get into the world of a book and just forget everything else. It has never been a job. It has always been pleasure. My world opens up when I see a German text in front of me.” He continued, “I never skip to the end because that spoils it. I discover the story as I translate.”
Surprisingly, Chadeayne is not a native German speaker; growing up, he only spoke English. At Hamilton, he studied the French language for two years before transferring to Columbia University. There, against the backdrop of the end of World War II, he discovered he was immersed in a city filled with German writers who had escaped Nazism. As a result he switched his major and became determined to master the German language.
Ultimately, he became a fluent and skilled German speaker. His translations of The Hangman’s Daughter and its sequels have all averaged at least four starts from Amazon customer reviews, a testament to his talent as a translator. His most recent work is Knight Kyle and the Magic Silver Lance.
Gabriella Page-Fort, Lee’s editor, commented, “He’s learned the vocabulary of Germany in 1660 to translate The Hangman’s Daughter, found the whimsical words about knights and ladies for Knight Kyle, and perfected the voice of an adventure novel for Book of the Night: The Black Musketeers.”
At Hamilton, Chadeayne was a member of Sigma Phi. After leaving the Hill, he earned his Bachelor of Science in German from Columbia University in 1959 and his Master of Arts in foreign languages from Ohio State University in 1966.