The Bridge: Christopher Middleton & Susan Bernofsky
Where: The Swiss Institute, 495 Broadway, 3rd Floor, New York, NY
renowned translators of Swiss author Robert Walser
read & discuss their work
Editor, NYRB Classics
Lunch-time comestibles will be available for purchase.
Organized by The Bridge Series and the Swiss Institute in cooperation with Poets House and McNally Jackson Books.
Christopher Middleton was born in Truro, Cornwall, in 1926, served in the Royal Air Force during World War II and after, studied at Merton College, Oxford — where he wrote a doctoral dissertation on Hermann Hesse — and taught at the University of Zurich and then at Kings College, London, in the 1950s and early 1960s. His first published translation, Robert Walser’s The Walk and Other Stories, appeared in 1957 — less than a year after Walser’s death — and was instrumental in launching Walser’s posthumous reception both in German and in English. While in London, Middleton, as he recounts, “helped to make the new German writing of the Fifties and Sixties accessible to British and American readers. I wrote reviews, gave radio talks”; and together with Michael Hamburger he edited the landmark anthology Modern German Poetry 1910–1960 (1962). During the same time, Middleton’s career as a poet was developing; and his first two books, Torse 3 (1963) and Nonsequences (1965), were published while he still lived in England. In 1966, Middleton moved to the United States, to teach at the University of Texas, and has continued living in Austin since his retirement in 1998. In addition to over two dozen books of his poetry, short prose, and critical writings, Middleton’s published work includes anthologized translations by Gottfried Benn, Paul Celan, Bertolt Brecht, Günter Grass, and the following translated books: Georg Trakl, Selected Poems (1967); Robert Walser, Jakob von Gunten (1969, reprint NYRB Classics); Christa Wolf, The Quest for Christa T. (1970); Friedrich Hölderlin and Eduard Mörike, Selected Poems (1972); Elias Canetti, Kafka’s Other Trial (1974); Robert Walser, Selected Stories (1983, reprint NYRB Classics); Goethe, Selected Poems (1983); several books by Gert Hofmann; Andalusian Poems, with Leticia Garza-Falcón (1993); Robert Walser, Speaking to the Rose: Writings, 1912–1932 (2005); and Jean Follain, 130 Poems (2010). Christopher Middleton’s participation is made possible by Poets House, where he will read his poetry and talk with John Yau on April 7, 2011, 7:00 PM.
Susan Bernofsky published her first book translation, Robert Walser’s Masquerade and Other Stories, in 1990. Since then, she has translated five more books by Walser — The Robber (2000), The Assistant (2008), The Tanners (2009), Microscripts (2010), and Berlin Stories (forthcoming 2011, NYRB Classics) — as well as Jenny Erpenbeck’s The Old Child and Other Stories (2005), The Book of Words (2007), and Visitation (2010); Yoko Tawada, Where Europe Begins (2002); Ludwig Harig, The Trip to Bordeaux (2003); Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha (2006); Uljana Wolf, False Friends (forthcoming,, Ugly Duckling Presse); and Swiss author Jeremias Gotthelf, The Black Spider (forthcoming, NYRB Classics). Bernofsky wrote her doctoral dissertation on Friedrich Schleichermacher’s theory of translation and early 19th-century translation practice, and is the author of Foreign Words: Translator-Authors in the Age of Goethe (2005). She is the recipient of the Looren Translation Prize (2009), a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship (2008), a Lannan Foundation Residency Award (2007), two National Endwoment for the Arts Translator’s Fellowships (2008; 1991), and the Kurt and Helen Wolff Translation Prize (2006), among other awards. She has taught translation and German literature at Princeton University, Bard College, and Sarah Lawrence College, as well as workshops and master classes on translation in the creative writing programs of Columbia University and Queens College. She is Chair of the PEN Translation Committee and author of the literary translation blog Translationista.