David Dollenmayer

David Dollenmayer © David Dollenmayer David Dollenmayer is a literary translator from German into English and professor of German at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, Massachusetts. He has translated novels, memoirs, and correspondence by such authors as Elias and Veza Canetti, Peter Stephan Jungk and Anna Mitgutsch.

His translation of Moses Rosenkranz’s memoir Childhood was awarded the Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator’s Prize for 2008. He is a member of PEN and the American Literary Translators Association.


Three questions to David Dollenmayer

Why did you choose to become a translator? Is it the profession you always wanted?

I have had a conventional career as a professor of German language and literature, but I was always interested in close reading of texts. I gradually realized that the closest of close readings is a translation rather than an academic commentary. Translating an entire novel (Anna Mitgutsch’s Haus der Kindheit) proved to be an enormous source of pleasure and satisfaction, and translation has been my main occupation ever since.
Which German book do you like the best and why?

This is a very hard question to answer, there is so much to choose from. These are probably my favorites in the various genres, and mostly because they are some of the first literary works I read in German and have not lost their magic over the years: Rilke’s Neue Gedichte, Kafka’s Amerika (Der Verschollene), Th. Mann’s Zauberberg, Döblin’s Berlin Alexanderplatz, Brecht’s Mutter Courage.
Is there a particular book you would like to translate?

Michael Kleeberg’s Ein Garten im Norden (1998) is a wonderful novel of Germany in the twentieth century that combines a great love story, fantasy, and a utopian and satyric reimagining of such problematic cultural icons as Heidegger and Wagner. A compelling story and a very German novel that deserves to be available to English-speaking readers.
book public domain

  • Elias and Veza Canetti: Dearest Georg (Briefe an Georges). Other Press, 2010
  • Peter Stephan Jungk: Crossing the Hudson (Die Reise über den Hudson). Other Press, 2009
  • Hansjörg Schertenleib: A Happy Man (Der Glückliche). Melville House, 2009
  • Michael Kleeberg: The Communist of Montmartre (Der Kommunist von Montmartre). “Words Without Borders: The Online Magazine for International Literature”. July 2008
  • Mietek Pemper: The Road to Rescue: The Untold Story of Schindler’s List (Der rettende Weg. Schindlers Liste – die wahre Geschichte). Other Press, 2008
  • Moses Rosenkranz: Childhood: An Autobiographical Fragment (Kindheit: Fragment einer Autobiographie). Syracuse University Press, 2007
  • Anna Mitgutsch: House of Childhood (Haus der Kindheit). Other Press, 2006