Rupert Glasgow

Rupert Glasgow © Rupert Glasgow R. D. V. Glasgow was born in Sheffield in 1964 and studied French and German at St John’s College, Oxford. He has lived in Bonn, Berlin, Barcelona, Malaga and Madrid and currently resides in Zaragoza. He has written and published three books on comedy and philosophy: Madness, Masks and Laughter: an essay on comedy (1995), Split Down the Sides: on the subject of laughter (1997), and The Comedy of Mind: Philosophers stoned, or the pursuit of wisdom (1999). His most recent book is The Concept of Water (2009).

He has been translating, on and off, since 1996, mainly from German but also from Spanish. He has recently specialized in palaeontology translation for a number of Spanish universities. In 2010 he gave a course called ‘The Phylogeny of the Self’ for biologists at Würzburg University.


Three questions to Rupert Glasgow

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

No, I never consciously chose to become a translator. I got a taste for it by doing translation work for Deutsche Welle in Berlin in the 1990s, and subsequently doing sports translation for the English-language version of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Book translation, however, can be a difficult and sometimes rather solitary activity. Though it is rewarding and stimulating in its good moments, I prefer to combine translation work with other activities, such as teaching or research and writing.
Which German book do you like the best and why?

Quite a lot of my own work has been on laughter and comedy, and my favourite German comedies include Grabbe’s Jest, Satire, Irony and Deeper Significance (Scherz, Satire, Ironie und tiefere Bedeutung) and Tieck’s The Topsy-Turvy World (Die verkehrte Welt) and Puss in Boots (Der gestiefelte Kater). Well ahead of their time, both these writers piqued my interest through their irreverent treatment of theatrical convention (in ways that anticipate Tom Stoppard, Monty Python and others). I also have a soft spot for German mystics such as Meister Eckhart and Heinrich Seuse.
Is there a particular book you would like to translate?

I enjoy and admire much German philosophy and would jump at the chance to translate Hans Joachim Störig’s Kleine Weltgeschichte der Philosophie. Given its importance, scope and quality, this book certainly ought to be translated into English. Such a project would at least keep me off the streets for a while.

  • Martin Heidegger: Letters to His Wife 1915-1970, ed. Gertrud Heidegger (Mein liebes Seelchen! Briefe Martin Heideggers an seine Frau Elfride 1915-1970). Polity, 2008
  • Katja Behling: Martha Freud: A Biography (Martha Freud: Die Frau des Genies). Polity, 2005
  • Beate Rössler: The Value of Privacy (Der Wert des Privaten). Polity, 2005
  • Axel Zerdick et al.: E-Merging Media: Communication and the Media Economy of the Future (E-Merging Media. Kommunikation und Medienwirtschaft der Zukunft). Springer, 2005
  • Axel Zerdick et al.: E-conomics: Strategies for the Digital Marketplace (Die Internet-Ökonomie: Strategien für die digitale Wirtschaft). Springer, 2000