Munich Translator Prize for Werner von Koppenfels – Munich

“Poetry is what the translator has to preserve, and his cause is not completely hopeless” – this sentence from Werner von Koppenfels is quoted in the jury’s reasoning that recently awarded him the 2024 Translation Prize of the City of Munich. The prize is endowed with 10,000 euros and is awarded every three years (this time on July 15th in the Literaturhaus, closed event). This honors outstanding translation achievements, i.e. an overall body of work, as well as special contributions to the teaching of foreign language literature in Germany.

The jury’s statement makes it clear that these criteria are completely met by Werner von Koppenfels. The following can be read about the English scholar and comparatist, who was born in Dresden in 1938 and who taught from 1974 until his retirement, particularly at the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich: “He intimidated generations of students with the volume of his seminar readings and by his example his erudition – and, above all, has had an impact far beyond the university and on the German reading landscape.

Not only did he expand the audience’s knowledge as a reviewer for FAZ and NZZ, he also edited important bilingual anthologies of French and English poetry with Friedhelm Kemp. And: “He has also translated himself from four of the six to seven languages ​​that he reads effortlessly: from English, French, Spanish and Latin – each with an unerring feeling for the high-quality and with a particular preference for what has hitherto been ignored, linguistically at the highest level Polished ones.”

The translation prize honors a “cultural mediator with a tireless joy of discovery and extraordinary language skills.” Last but not least, Koppenfels co-founded a postgraduate course at the LMU in 1987, which is now known as the “Literary Translation” master’s course. So he made sure that it continued: one more example that the cause of translation, and this translator in particular, cannot be hopeless.

source site