Sunday, October 28, 2007

Sad News Last Week: The Passing of Stephen Tranter

From the ISAS list, Winfrid Rudolf reported:

I am sorry to have to report the passing away of my teacher and good friend Stephen Tranter, who died quietly in Trier (Germany) on October 12th after almost nine years of being in a coma. I am not sure whether Stephen's wife Doris has contacted you already, but I am sure she would give her ok to have the sad news spread via ISASnet. Stephen will be known to many colleagues in the field from his work on the sagas and metrical tracts. A product of ASNAC and student of Ray Page and Peter Clemoes, he later studied with Heinz Klingenberg and Hildegard Tristram at Freiburg University. He was a charismatic teacher of Old English, Old Norse and Irish, a keen musician and glorious supporter of Derby County FC. He has more than revived English Medieval Studies at Jena University when he took the refounded professorship in 1996, after an eclipse of this post for 38 years, caused by GDR university politics. He was very much aware of the tradition of English Medieval Studies at Jena (Ettmüller, Sievers, Kluge, Schücking etc.) and was striving for a holistic and colourful way of teaching our subject to students of a mainly atheist background. Thanks to his work, Jena can now pride itself in having a good library of Old and Middle English scholarship again, and a prospering community of graduate students in our field. Stephen has taught me the basic skills of our craft in a very dialogical and open way, and has been a steady companion in my thoughts for the last nine years. It is hard to describe how much he is responsible for what I have become, both as a scholar and human being. He was a lovely man, and I am sure his memory will live on in every good hour of teaching our subject and every bit of humour we gain from working together as Anglo-Saxonists.


Matthew Wyneken said...

By complete coincidence I happened to run across your blog concerning the death of Stephen Tranter just a day after you posted it.

I knew Stephen at the Scandinavian department in Freiburg back in the 1980's. I was fortunate to hear his vocal ensemble from Basel perform in a church service one time. Heavenly!

I was shocked when several years ago I heard the news that Stephen had fallen into a coma. Whenever I met someone who knew Stephen I would always ask if they had any news about his condition. Now I know that I need ask no more.

This is sad news, but thank you for posting it anyway.

Farewell Stephen. You are not forgotten.

Anonymous said...

Stephen was by far the most popular lecturer at the entire English department when I was a student at Freiburg University, and was the person who inspired me to study Old English full-time - a decision I have never regretted.

Stephen was a fantastic lecturer, a great scholar, and one of the most warm-hearted people I have ever met, and I am very sorry to hear of his passing.

Anonymous said...

The first time I met Stephen was on Iceland in 1994. We used to exchange letters and one day his wife's letter reached me with the shocking news that he is in coma. All these years he has been in my thoughts. In January I wrote a review about a festschrift and it ended with regretting that Stephen hadn't been able to contribute to it. Only today I read that he died last Autumn already... He was one of the most open-minded and warm-hearted scholars I have ever met. I won't ever forget him.

Anonymous said...

I've been sorting through sacks of old papers and came across Stephen's translation of 'Dies Irae', which he did for me in 1968, at school. So I went to look him up and have come across this very sad news. He was a good friend and a true scholar. Here's his sixth former's translation of verse 4:

Death and nature will be stunned
As all creation must arise
To hear account before their judge

peggy pawlowski said...

A friend's mentioning of Alcuinus made me look up Stephen's work after years and let me find your post. It fills me with sadness as I had always hoped that this exceptional scholar and 'Menschenseele' would one day be able to continue his work. This message hits as hard as it would have done at the time it was sent.
I had the privilege of being one of Stephen's students in Jena sharing his vast knowledge and will always be inspired by what I learnt from him. For myself and for those I am entrusted to teach.

His angelic voice when singing and the way he recited the Pearl Poem for me belong to my most treasured memories. He was warmhearted, demanding and truly inspired by divinity.

I am deeply moved.
And grateful.

And þou in a lyf of lykyng lyte,
In Paradys erde, of stryf vnstrayned.

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