David Luke (1921-2005) was an internationally renowned academic and translator, known for his fluent and sensitive translations of German literature.
As a provocative and eccentric lecturer at Manchester University, he was famed for his love of playing Wagner at maximum volume. He returned to Oxford in 1959 as Lecturer in German, and remained there until his retirement in 1988.
It was as a translator of both prose and verse that he was best known, notably of Goethe’s works, including Faust, Part I of which won the European Poetry Translation Prize in 1989. Other translations of note include Heinrich von Kleist’s The Marquise of O and Other Stories, Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice, and what is considered to be a definitive English version of the Grimms’ fairy tales.
Throughout his academic career he published a great many journal articles on German literature, covering authors as divers as Goethe, Kleist, Thomas Mann and the Brothers Grimm, and including an article considered one of the cornerstones of 20th-century Kafka criticism.
In 2000 the German-British Forum presented him with the GBF Award in honour of his contribution to cultural understanding between the two nations.