Robert Fitzgerald

1910–1985
Robert FitzgeraldMiriam Champigny

Robert Fitzgerald (1910 - 1985) was born in Springfield, Illinois, and attended Harvard University, where he received an excellent education in the classics. After college, he started to translate Greek poetry to keep up his skills. They were published and soon earned him the reputation as one of the best Greek translators in English. Though more known for his translations, Fitzgerald is also a poet in his own right. In poems such as "Song after Campion," Fitzgerald's strong classical influence mixes with the English Renaissance tradition to create pristine lyrical poetry. For both his poetry and translations he earned many awards including the Poet Laureate of the United States.

An educator, journalist, translator, editor, and author, Robert Fitzgerald distinguished himself in several literary fields. He earned the Bollingen Award in 1961 for his verse translation of Homer's Odyssey, and his translation of Homer's epics and of such works as Sophocles's Oedipus Rex and Euripedes's Alcestis earned acclaim for their clarity. These works have, say critics, become classics in their own right. Fitzgerald's own writings include the poetry collection Spring Shade and the critical volume Enlarging the Change. He also edited collections of poetry and prose by James Agee. Fitzgerald was Boylston Professor of Rhetoric at Harvard University from 1965 to 1981.

Career

New York Herald Tribune, New York City, reporter, 1933-35; Time, New York City, writer, 1936-49; Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, NY, teacher, 1946-53; Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, instructor, 1950-52; University of Notre Dame, South Bend, IN, professor, 1957; University of Washington, Seattle, professor, 1961; Mt. Holyoke College, South Hadley, MA, professor, 1964; Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, Boylston Professor of Rhetoric, 1965-81.

Bibliography

  • Poems, Arrow Editions, 1935.
  • A Wreath for the Sea, New Directions, 1943.
  • In the Rose of Time, New Directions, 1956.
  • Spring Shade, New Directions, 1972.
  • Enlarging the Change: The Princeton Seminars in Literary Criticism, 1949-1951, Northeastern University Press (Boston, MA), 1985.
  • The Third Kind of Knowledge: Memoirs and Selected Writings, edited by Penelope Laurans Fitzgerald, New Directions (New York, NY), 1993.

Editor:

  • The Collected Poems of James Agee, Houghton, 1968.
  • The Collected Short Prose of James Agee, Houghton, 1968.
  • (With wife, Sally Fitzgerald) Flannery O'Connor, Mystery and Manners, Farrar, Straus, 1969.

Translator:

  • (With Dudley Fitts) Euripides, Alcestis, Harcourt, 1936.
  • (With Fitts) Sophocles, Antigone, Harcourt, 1939.
  • Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus, Harcourt, 1941.
  • (With Fitts) Sophocles, Oedipus Rex, Harcourt, 1949.
  • St. John Perse, Chronique, Pantheon, 1960.
  • Homer, The Odyssey, Doubleday, 1961.
  • St. John Perse, Birds, Pantheon, 1966.
  • Homer, The Iliad, Doubleday, 1974.
  • Virgil, The Aeneid, Random House (New York, NY), 1983.

Further Reading

BOOKS

  • Fitzgerald, Penelope Laurans, editor, The Third Kind of Knowledge: Memoirs and Selected Writings, New Directions (New York City), 1993.
  • Hexter, Ralph J., A Guide to the Odyssey: A Commentary on the English Translation of Robert Fitzgerald, Vintage Books (New York City), 1993.
  • Hogan, James C., A Guide to The Iliad: Based on the Translation by Robert Fitzgerald, Anchor Books (Garden City, NY), 1979.

OBITUARIES: PERIODICALS

  • Chicago Tribune, January 18, 1985.
  • Detroit Free Press, January 17, 1985.
  • New York Times, January 17, 1985.
  • Newsweek, January 28, 1985.
  • Publishers Weekly, February 8, 1985.
  • Time, January 28, 1985.

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Poet Categorization

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

LIFE SPAN 1910–1985

Robert Fitzgerald

Biography

Robert Fitzgerald (1910 - 1985) was born in Springfield, Illinois, and attended Harvard University, where he received an excellent education in the classics. After college, he started to translate Greek poetry to keep up his skills. They were published and soon earned him the reputation as one of the best Greek translators in English. Though more known for his translations, Fitzgerald is also a poet in his own right. In poems . . .

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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