Wolff Prize – A Well Deserved Early Birthday Present
Enlarge image Onno Hückmann, Burton Pike and Werner Ott (© Germany.info/Chicago) Professor Burton Pike is one of the best examples that enthusiasm for a foreign language such as German keeps you young. With a youthful and energetic personality that seems to take at least 15 years off of his true age, Burton Pike was awarded with the Helen and Kurt Wolff Translation Prize one day before his 82nd birthday. His outstanding translation of Gerhard Meier's "Isle of the Dead", (Dalkey Archive Press, 2011), originally published as "Toteninsel", was recognized on June 11, 2012.
Having dedicated his entire career to studying and teaching German, it was only appropriate for Burton Pike to receive this award. He is professor emeritus of Comparative Literature and German at the City University of New York Graduate Center. He has also taught at the University of Hamburg, Cornell, Queens and Hunter Colleges of the City University of New York, and has been a visiting professor at Yale. Throughout his entire career, he has been editing and translating many German works from Robert Musil's "The Man without Qualities" to Goethe's novel "The Sorrows of Young Werther". Enlarge image Burton Pike (© Germany.info/Chicago)
During the ceremony, Consul General Hückmann pointed out that Burton Pike "with his masterful translation has been able to introduce English-speaking readers to an important writer they might otherwise have never known".
Although Professor Pike has been awarded many prizes, among them a Guggenheim and a Fulbright Fellowship, to mention just two of them, the ceremony still moved him very much.
In his novel "Isle of the Dead", Swiss author Gerhard Meier narrates the conversation of two old men in a quiet, meditative, and intensely lyrical voice. Friends since their days in the army, the two men walk their regular route along the river observing, conversing, and reminiscing. Enlarge image Chicago Q Ensemble (© Germany.info/Chicago)
The Helen and Kurt Wolff Prize has been awarded annually since 1996 by the German Foreign Minister. Besides the certificate signed by Foreign Minister Dr. Guido Westerwelle, the awardee receives a prize of USD 10,000.00. The award ceremony and the work of the jury are organized and administered by the Goethe-Institut Chicago.