Robert Stiller

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Robert Reuven Stiller (born Warsaw, Poland, 25 January 1928) is a Polish polyglot, writer, poet, translator and editor.


Stiller was born in Warsaw, Poland, to Polish parents and spent his early childhood in what is now Belarus. His father was of Jewish-Austrian descent.

At Warsaw University, Stiller studied Polish, Slavic, and Indian languages and literatures; and at the University of Iceland, in Reykjavík, Old Norse.

His scholarly activities have also spanned English, German, Russian, Polynesian, Jewish and Scandinavian literatures.

As a literary critic, he has specialized in the arts of translation and editorship. He has himself been an editor at several journals and publishing houses.

Most of Stiller's publications, including some 300 books, are translations of prose and poetry from thirty-odd languages, chiefly English, German, Russian and Malay, as well as French, Spanish, Middle High German, Old English, Old Norse, Icelandic, Swedish, Dutch, Yiddish, Hebrew, Latin, Czech, Slovak, Ukrainian, Lusatian, Sanskrit, Chinese and others. His translations are often accompanied by extensive critical essays and commentaries.

Stiller has done literary research (six years altogether) in England, Iceland, Denmark, Germany, France, Netherlands, Russia, Ukraine, United States, Central Asia, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam.

In addition to his translations, he is a poet, playwright and the author of books and essays about language.

Among Stiller's literary oeuvre, of particular note is his version of Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita, in which he has succeeded in conveying at once both the sense and the sound of the original, despite all that novel's formal literary complexities.

Also noteworthy is Stiller's Anthology of Malay Literature, which includes nearly 80 pages of introduction and over 500 pages of the most varied writings, translated from the Malay.

Shortly after the 2006 death of his old friend Stanisław Lem, a writer of science-fiction fame, Stiller published a book of reminiscencesLemie! po co umarłeś? Opowieść w reminiscencjach (Lem, What Did You Die For? A Story in Reminiscences), Kraków, vis-à-vis/etiuda, 2006.

In 2009 he published a 685-page volume of his collected poetry, Poetyka pierwszej dziewiątki (Katowice, Wydawnictwo KOS), which includes a CD of his readings of selected poems.

Stiller lives in Józefów, near Warsaw, with his sixth wife, Nina, née Gajewska, a singer, dancer and actress.


Translations from English[edit]

Stiller has translated, into Polish, works by Peter Cheyney, Frank Norris, Vachel Lindsay, Lewis Carroll, Eric Hoffer, Ayn Rand, John le Carré, Edward Lear, Farley Mowat, Anthony Hope, Anthony Burgess, David Morrell, Vladimir Nabokov, Robert Alley, Herman Wouk, Hilaire Belloc, Ian Fleming, John Lennon, Lynn Barber, Angel Smith, Joshua Trachtenberg, Todd Strasser, Ron Hansen, Wesley O. Hagood, Ronald Brownrigg, William Manchester, James Webb and Andrew Holmes.

Translations from German[edit]

German authors translated by Stiller into Polish include Johannes R. Becher, Johann Wolfgang Goethe, Heinrich Heine, Bertolt Brecht, Ludwig Achim von Arnim, Clemens Brentano, Rainer Bũttner, Siegfried Rabe, the Brothers Grimm, Horst Herrmann, Hans Hellmut Kirst, Esther Vilar, Wilhelmine Schrõder-Devrient, Micha Josef Bin Gorion (Micha Josef Berdyczewski), Karlheinz Deschner, Manfred Lurker, Wolfgang Kossak, Eugen Drewermann, Henriette von Schirach, Wilhelm Busch, Wolfgang Ott and Lothar-Günther Buchheim.

Translations from other languages[edit]

Stiller has translated, from French, works by Henri Fauconnier, Marie-Catherine d'Aulnoy, Alfred de Musset, George Sand and Pierre Louỹ.

Russian authors translated by him include Demyan Bedny, Moris Simashko and Lidia Chukovskaya.

Czech writers translated by Stiller include Fráňa Šrámek; Yiddish writers, Itzig Manger; Indian writers, Rabindranath Tagore, Kālidāsa and Bilhana; and Chinese writers, Sun Zi, Wu Qi and Tan Daoji.