Obituary: Professor Dr. Richard G.C. Martin


Professor Dr. Richard G.C. Martin // 5 December 1934–15 April 2022

Once again the Institute has the sad duty of reporting the recent death of a valued, long-standing colleague. Richard Martin passed away on April 15, 2022. After reading English at Cambridge, Richard taught at various language schools in Denmark, Italy and Germany before taking up a lecturing post at the Ruhr University, Bochum, where he was also awarded a doctorate for his thesis on E.M. Forster. In 1973, at a time when the Aachen Institut für Anglistik was expanding rapidly, he was appointed Professor of English and American Studies – the first incumbent of this newly created position.

Richard was an extremely popular lecturer who continued to keep in close touch with many of his former students well after his retirement in 1998. He brought literature to life by inviting numerous American and British writers to come and give readings here in Aachen rather than just remaining dim shadows on the page. What a triumph it was when thanks to his contacts we were able to witness Allen Ginsberg's (extremely) live performance in the Audimax. For a brief bright moment of glory, Aachen almost supplanted Liverpool as the “centre of consciousness of the human universe.” And when the whole world was talking about Salman Rushdie's sensational new magic-realist novel Midnight's Children, the star author turned up in person in the Kármán-Auditorium as a surprise guest to read to an ecstatically enthusiastic audience. Yes, Richard will be sorely missed.

The festschrift presented to Richard on the occasion of his 60th birthday includes more than thirty items contributed by personal friends and colleagues of the dedicatee. Among them are short fictions by the American writers Walter Abish, Robert Coover, Raymond Federman, Steve Katz and Joanna Scott as well as essays by Christine Brooke-Rose on the media landscape in Europe, Ihab Hassan on the situation of literary studies at American universities and Kathleen Woodward on the American autobiography. Contributions on translation theory, reminiscences, poems and art works round out the collection.

A short selection of Richard's many publications:

1974. The Love that Failed: Ideal and reality in the writings of E.M. Forster. The Hague: Mouton.

1988/1999. Ink in Her Blood: The Life and Crime Fiction of Margery Allingham (Challenging the Literary Canon). University of Rochester Press.

1994. Reading Life / Writing Fiction: An introduction to novels by American women, 1920–1940. Aachen: Aachen British and American Studies / Aachener Studien zur Anglistik und Amerikanistik.

1995. Ed. with Ellen G. Friedman. Utterly Other Discourse. Dalkey Archive.

1999. Fragments From Here and There: Some memories. London: Janus Publishing.

2005. Ed. with Dagmar Pohlenz. F. Scott Fitzgeralds The Great Gatsby. Double Issue. Amerikastudien / American Studies 50: 1/2.

2008. Spider's Nets: Poems. Nottingham: Poetry Monthly Press. Cover photography by Dagmar Pohlenz.

2010. An Ordinary Life: Poems 2008–2009. Nottingham: Poetry Monthly Press. Cover photographs by Dagmar Pohlenz.

2012. Seeing the World: Selected and new poems 2000–2011. Norderstedt: Books on Demand. Cover photographs by Dagmar Pohlenz.

A book on / for Richard:

1995. Near Encounters: Festschrift for Richard Martin. Ed. Hanjo Berressem & Bernd Herzogenrath. Frankfurt/Berlin/Bern/New York/Paris/Wien: Lang.