Peter Rychlo

1. 8. 2013

08_2013_Rychlo_Foto©Olha Kravchuk1Peter Rychlo
Foto © Olha Kravchuk

On the Ukrainian translator landscape, Peter Rychlo from Czernowitz is indeed an outstanding personality and simultaneously an exception. Thanks to his tireless translation activities, the entire German-language literary heritage of Bukovina and numerous classical and contemporary literary works are gradually becoming accessible to the Ukrainian readership in their native language.

However, the entire involved process preceding the eventual publication of every text in another language remains hidden to the reader. The actual work of the translator generally takes place in the back room, invisible to others. According to Nietzsche, this is a „dance in the chains“ for the translator him-/herself. It is a colossal challenge since the “translation is not a simple exchange of words, it is the creation of new worlds which had until then not existed in the target language”, explains Peter Rychlo.

Peter Rychlo experienced the appeal contained in this activity, which has the creation of new worlds as its outcome, for the first time already in school as he translated a German poem from a textbook. It must have been a sort of love at first sight, between the young student and the German language – a love which lasts a lifetime.

After completing secondary school in his hometown Shyshkivzi (Czernowitz region) he started German Studies at the University of Czernowitz and completed his studies with a diploma in 1972. Since 1976 he works at the chair for foreign literary history and theory of the University of Czernowitz. In 1988 he completed his doctorate with a reception on the national literary tradition in the poems of Stephan Hermlin, in 2007 he habilitated with the topic “The Poetic Oeuvre of Paul Celan as Intertext”.

Peter Rychlo lives and works in Czernowitz. Amongst his most recent important scholarly works and translations are “Poetics of the Dialogue: Paul Celan’s Poetry as Intertext” (Czernowitz 2005), “Shibboleth: Jewish Search for Identity in the German-language Poetry of the Bukovina” (Czernowitz 2008), “Reading Europe: Czernowitz” (Klagenfurt 2004), ”The Lost Harp: An Anthology of German-language Poetry of the Bukovina” (Czernowitz, 2nd extended edition 2008), “Literary City Czernowitz” (design by Oleh Ljubkivskyj) (Czernowitz, 2nd edition 2010).

Peter Rychlo translated several poems by German-Jewish writers from the Bukovina into Ukrainian and simultaneously discovered many lost authors, also for the German reader. He placed many names and an entire unique cultural class from the sunken German-language island Czernowitz onto our horizon of the present. Due to his activity we have numerous translations of German, Austrian and Swiss authors in Ukrainian journals, anthologies and almanacs: Friedrich Schiller, Heinrich Heine, Georg Heym, Carl Einstein, Johannes R. Becher, Bertolt Brecht, Georg Maurer, Stephan Hermlin, Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, Alexander Roda Roda, Ingeborg Bachmann, Franz Fühmann, Günter Kunert, Volker Braun, Sarah Kirsch, Uwe Kolbe, Mario Wirz, Durs Grünbein, Gerhard Falkner, Brigitte Oleschinski, Julian Schutting, Peter Waterhouse, Ingeborg Kaiser, Andreas Saurer amongst others. The translated works of  Karl Emil Franzos, Jura Soyfer, Manes Sperber, Karl Lubomirski, Georg Drozdowski, Gregor von Rezzori, Rose Ausländer, Paul Celan, Josef Burg, Aharon Appelfeld and others were published in book form.

From the last publications one could mention the translation of the correspondence between Paul Celan and Ingeborg Bachmann „Die Herzzeit“ [Heart Time] as well as Paul Celan’s volume of poems „Mohn und Gedächtnis“ [Poppy and Memory]. Soon further translations of the poetry by Paul Celan will be released.

For his extended translation, research and teaching activities and for his accomplishments with respect to intercultural dialogue, Prof. Dr. Peter Rychlo was awarded the Federal Cross of Merit. The award was presented at the „Meridian Czernowitz“ in 2012 within the framework of the 3rd International Poetic Festival. With this award the extensive translation, research and teaching activities of a great expert on German-language literature were honoured. This marks a well-deserved recognition of Peter Rychlo’s work and his important contritution to Ukrainian German Studies.

 by Mykola Lipisivitskyj and Olha Kravchuk

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