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David Luke

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David Luke
Died2005 (aged 83–84)
OccupationScholar, translator and teacher
SubjectGerman literature

David Luke (1921–2005) was a scholar of German literature at Christ Church, Oxford.[1]

He was renowned for his translations of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Thomas Mann, Heinrich von Kleist, Eduard Mörike, Adalbert Stifter and the Brothers Grimm.[1]

He won the European Poetry Translation Prize – subsequently renamed the Popescu Prize – in 1989 for his translation of Part I of Goethe's Faust.[2] In 2000, the German-British Forum awarded him a medal of honour for his contributions to cultural relations between the UK and Germany.[1]

According to one 2017 appraisal, Luke's translation of Goethe's Faust is said to "allow Goethe's complex and varied meanings to emerge, including his philosophic and religious skepticism" and is described as "being more open to the conflicts and contradictions, theological and secular, virtues and vices, and idealism and cynicism than many translations into English".[3]

Luke described translation as being "the art of the least intolerable sacrifice ... the instinctive choice between competing imperfections".[4]

His literary agent and others have commented that he was "famed for his love of playing Wagner at maximum volume".[5] He was friends with W. H. Auden and Iris Murdoch.[1]



  1. ^ a b c d "David Luke". Independent.co.uk. 9 December 2005.
  2. ^ "Faust - Paperback - J. W. Von Goethe, David Luke - Oxford University Press".
  3. ^ Gentzler, Edwin (2017). Translation and Rewriting in the Age of Post-Translation Studies. London: Routledge. pp. 90–91.
  4. ^ Fugate, J.K. (April 1988). "GOETHE, Johann Wolfgang von. Faust, part one: tr. with an introd. by David Luke. Oxford, 1987". Choice: 1250.
  5. ^ "David Luke".