The Future of Translation

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Memorial Union, Journey Room, 4:00 p.m.
Burton Pike, City University of New York

Literary translation is a complex activity that has always been dependent on changes in culture and language. Over the past century these changes have been accelerating; the notion of national literature has faded, and writing has become increasingly international and to some extent increasingly local, bypassing in both directions the notion of nation. These new forms of writing and reading are calling into question attitudes toward translation as a bridge between cultures and toward translators as professional mediators between cultures.

Burton Pike is Professor Emeritus of Comparative Literature and German at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He has also taught at the University of Hamburg, Germany, Cornell, and Queens and Hunter Colleges of CUNY, and was a Visiting Professor at Yale. He has had a Guggenheim Fellowship, and in 1992 was awarded the Medal of Merit by the City of Klagenfurt, Austria, for his work on Robert Musil. He is a member of the PEN Translation Committee, and until recently a member of the Board of the International Musil Society.

Professor Pike wrote the first critical study of Musil (Cornell, 1961) and has edited and co-translated a number of his works: Robert Musil: Selected Writings (Continuum, 1986), Precision and Soul: Essays and Addresses (Chicago, 1990), and The Man without Qualities (Knopf, 1995), a translation which was awarded a special citation by the PEN/Book of the Month Club Prize. He has contributed chapters on Musil to The New History of German Literature (Harvard, 2004) and The Musil Companion (Camden House, 2007).

Pike translated and wrote the introduction to Goethe’s novel The Sorrows of Young Werther (Random House/Modern Library, 2004) and translated and wrote the introduction to Rilke‚Äôs novel The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge (Dalkey Archive Press, 2008). His translations of prose and poetry from German and French have appeared in Fiction, Grand Street, Conjunctions, Chicago Review, and other magazines. He also edited and wrote the introduction to Thomas Mann: Six Early Stories and has published The Image of the City in Modern Literature (Princeton, 1981) and numerous articles on the city.

View Dr. Pike’s lecture.

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