The 2013 Charles Homer Haskins Prize Lecture
Robert Alter has taught at the University of California, Berkeley since 1967. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the Council of Scholars of the Library of Congress, and is past president of the Association of Literary Scholars and Critics. He has twice been a Guggenheim Fellow, and has been a Senior Fellow of the National Endowment for the Humanities, a Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Jerusalem, and Old Dominion Fellow at Princeton University.
Professor Alter has written widely on the European novel from the eighteenth century to the present, on contemporary American fiction, and on modern Hebrew literature. He has also written extensively on literary aspects of the Bible. His publications include two prize-winning volumes on biblical narrative and poetry and award-winning translations of Genesis and of the Five Books ofMoses. He has devoted book-length studies to Fielding, Stendhal, and the self-reflexive tradition in the novel. His books have been translated into eight different languages. Among his publications since the beginning of the 1990s are Necessary Angels: Tradition and Modernity in Kafka, Benjamin, and Scholem (1991), The World of Biblical Literature (1992) Hebrew and Modernity (1994), Imagined Cities (2005), and Psalms: A Translation with Commentary (2007). His most recent books are Pen of Iron: American Prose and the King James Bible (2010), The Wisdom Books: A Translation with Commentary (2011), and Ancient Israel: The Former Prophets (2013).
In 2009, Professor Alter received the Robert Kirsch Award from the Los Angeles Times for lifetime contribution to American letters.