John Felstiner

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John Felstiner
Casual portrait photograph of male, age appearing to be in 50's (chronologically 70's), with brown eyes, brown eyebrows, white hair and mustache, wearing white t-shirt and khaki shirt.
Felstiner at Stanford University in 2009

John Felstiner (July 5, 1936 – February 24, 2017), Professor Emeritus of English at Stanford University,[1] was an American literary critic, translator, and poet. His interests included poetry in various languages, environmental and ecologic poems, literary translation, Vietnam era poetry and Holocaust studies.[2]


Felstiner was born in Mount Vernon, New York [3] and grew up in New York and New England. He graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy,[4] Harvard College, A.B. (magna cum laude), 1958, and Harvard University, Ph.D., 1965.[2]

From 1958 to 1961, he served on the USS Forrestal, in the Mediterranean.[5] Felstiner came to Stanford University in 1965 and was a professor of English at Stanford until his retirement in 2009.[5] While at Stanford, he was three times a fellow at Stanford Humanities Center; a Fulbright professor at University of Chile (1967–68); visiting professor at Hebrew University of Jerusalem (1974–75); and visiting professor of Comparative Literature and English at Yale University (1990, 2002).[2]

His collection of Paul Celan’s manuscripts, letters, and widespread context, along with Felstiner’s own translation archive, are housed at the Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington.[6]

John and his wife, the writer, historian and professor Mary Lowenthal Felstiner, have two children: Sarah and Alek, and also two grandchildren.[7]

Selected Works[edit]

Selected Honors and Awards[edit]

  • First Kenyon Review Prize in Criticism, for Max Beerbohm and the Wings of Henry James (1967) [8]
  • National Endowment for the Arts Literature and Translation Fellowships (1969, 1971, 1984, 2002) [9]
  • Rockefeller (1980), Guggenheim (1983), and National Endowment for the Humanities (1971, 1989) fellowships, and Bellagio Center (Rockefeller Foundation) Residency (1996) [2]
  • Translating Neruda: The Way to Macchu Picchu won the California Commonwealth Club Gold Medal for Non-fiction.[2]
  • Paul Celan: Poet, Survivor, Jew won the Truman Capote Prize for Literary Criticism and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle award and the Modern Language Association’s James Russell Lowell prize.[2]
  • Selected Poems and Prose of Paul Celan won translation prizes from the American Translators Association, Modern Language Association, and PEN West.[2]
  • Member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2005.[10]


  1. ^ "Book of Members, 1780-2010: Chapter F" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 27 June 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "The Human Experience: inside the humanities at Stanford University". Retrieved 27 June 2012. 
  3. ^ " Contemporary Authors". Retrieved 27 June 2012. 
  4. ^ "The Exeter Bulletin Fall 2009". Retrieved 27 June 2012. 
  5. ^ a b "Guide to the John Felstiner Papers". Retrieved 27 June 2012. 
  6. ^ "Lilly Library Manuscript Collections, Felstiner, John, MSS". Retrieved 27 June 2012. 
  7. ^ "V-LETTER: A STORY SURVIVED". Retrieved 17 October 2015. 
  8. ^ "Kenyon Review". Retrieved 27 June 2012. 
  9. ^ "National Endowment for the Arts Features Writers' Corner John Felstiner". Retrieved 27 June 2012. 
  10. ^ "Professor John Felstiner". American Academy of Arts and Sciences. 26 April 2005. Retrieved 6 March 2016. 

Selected Interviews, Book Reviews, and Articles[edit]