Lilly Library Manuscript Collections


The Felstiner, John mss., ca. 1955-2011, consist of the works of writer and translator, John Felstiner. The collection includes translations and drafts of works by Paul Celan; publisher's exchanges; correspondence; articles, essays and clippings, classroom instruction materials; and professional journals.

Felstiner received his A.B. from Harvard College in 1958 and his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1965, joining the faculty at Stanford University the same year. His first book, The Lies of Art: Max Beerbohm's Parody and Caricature (1972), dealt with parody as a critical, creative, and comic form. Thereafter he focused mainly on modern poetry. Teaching North American poetry in Chile in 1967-68 led to Translating Neruda: The Way to Macchu Picchu (1980), which won the Commonwealth Club of California Gold Medal, and to an ongoing concern with the practice of literary translation, along with its interpretive, creative, and theoretical implications. His book on the German-speaking Jewish poet, Paul Celan: Poet, Survivor, Jew (1995), won the Truman Capote Prize for Literary Criticism. The British Comparative Literature Association gave 1st and 2nd prizes to his Pablo Neruda and Paul Celan translations. His subsequent work Selected Poems and Prose of Paul Celan (Norton, 2001) won the Modern Language Association's biennial Lois Roth Award for Translation of a Literary Work, the American Translators Association's biennial award for German translation, and PEN West's prize for literary translation. He also co-edited the Norton anthology, Jewish American Literature (2000). This Dust of Words, Felstiner's memoir of his brilliant late-Sixties student Liz Wiltsee, inspired a documentary film that has been screened at various festivals.

Felstiner has held Guggenheim, Rockefeller, NEH, and NEA fellowships, taught literary translation twice at Yale, and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Acquired: 2012

Collection size: 10,500 items

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For more information about this collection and any related materials contact the Public Services Department, Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405. Call (812) 855-2452 or send an email using our Ask a Question form.