Robert B. Alter

Robert B. Alter

Fellow: Awarded 1966

Field of Study: English Literature

Fellow: Awarded 1978

Field of Study: English Literature

Competition: US & Canada

Robert Alter is Class of 1937 Professor of Hebrew and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley, where he has taught 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 (1966, 1978), 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.

He 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 twenty-two published books include two prize-winning volumes on biblical narrative and poetry and award-winning translations of Genesis and of the Five Books of Moses. He has devoted book-length studies to Fielding, Stendhal, and the self-reflexive tradition in the novel. Books by him have been translated into eight different languages. Among his publications over the past eighteen years are Necessary Angels: Tradition and Modernity in Kafka, Benjamin, and Scholem (1991), Genesis: Translation and Commentary (1996), The David Story: A Translation with Commentary of 1 and 2 Samuel (1999), Canon and Creativity: Modern Writing and the Authority of Scripture (2000), and The Five Books of Moses: A Translation with Commentary (2004), Imagined Cities (2005), and The Book of Psalms: A Translation with Commentary (2007).

In 2009 he received the Robert Kirsch Award from the Los Angeles Times for lifetime contribution to American letters.