Goethe -Medal for Fuad Rifka
In 2010, the Goethe Institute conferred the Goethe-Medal to the Lebanese poet and translator Fuad Rifka, the Hungarian philosopher Agnes Heller, and to the American exile author John M. Spalek.
In his opening address, president Klaus-Dieter Lehmann acknowledged the award winners as important precursors for the work of the Goethe Institute worldwide.
This year’s award winners did so on different levels:
The Lebanese poet, philosopher and translator Fuad Rifka was awarded this year’s Goethe -Medal for his numerous Arabic translations of German poetry. By translating Rilke, Hoelderlin, Novalis, Hesse, Celan, Brecht and Goethe, he has made central works of German poetry accessible to the Arabic-speaking world, in many cases for the first time. At the same time, his work as a professor of philosophy at the Lebanese American University in Beirut made him a mediator between the Eastern and Western intellectual worlds. Fuad Rifka wrote his doctoral thesis on Martin Heidegger and always placed the German philosophers in the middle of his teaching.
His encounter with German poetry and philosophy, which he once described as an “earthquake in his existence”, had a long-lasting influence on his own poetry.
Every year, the Goethe Institute bestows the Goethe-Medal, an official award of the Federal Republic of Germany. Until 2008, the ceremony took place on the anniversary of Goethe’s death, on March 22nd, but starting 2009, it was switched to his birthday, on August 28th. The medal goes to foreign personalities who, with their work, have done great service to the German institute. It was founded in 1954 by the executive committee of the Goethe Institute and it has been recognized an official medal in 1975 by the Federal Republic of Germany. Since 1992, the medal is conferred once a year in Weimar.