In Memoriam ~ George Schade
Posted: July 19, 2010
Professor Emeritus Geoge Schade died at his home in Austin on July 11, 2010. He is survived by his wife Matilde, sons Phillip and Christopher, daughter-in-law Zoe, brother Bob and other family members in California, as well as his many former graduate students, who are teaching at colleges and universities across the United States.
George Schade was born in 1926 in Portland, Oregon. He received both his BA and MA from the University of Oregon—his BA was in Spanish, his MA in Romance Languages with a specialization in Spanish and French. After completing his MA, Prof. Schade spent the summer of 1947 studying at the Universidad de San Carlos in Guatemala. He went to Berkeley for his doctoral work, and there he studied with Arturo Torres-Rioseco, who was one of the pioneers in the then newly-emerging field of Latin American literature. He received his PhD in 1953, writing a dissertation entitled “Classical Mythology in the Modernista Poetry of Spanish America.” (His dissertation is available on microfilm in the Benson Collection.) He spent the year after he completed his PhD teaching at Berkeley; the following year he taught at the University of New Mexico and in 1955, continuing to make his way east, he came here to the University of Texas, which would be his home until he retired in 1997.
When George arrived here, he was one of three Spanish Americanists in what was then the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures. In his more than 40 years in the department, that panorama changed considerably—the department split into Spanish & Portuguese and French & Italian in the late 1960’s—and the field changed dramatically, with Latin America becoming a major focus of scholarly inquiry and Latin American writers coming to occupy a major place not only in the canon of texts studied and taught in colleges and universities but also on best-seller lists the world over.
George’s first two scholarly articles appeared in 1956 in Hispania; one was on the Venezuelan writer Teresa de la Parra’s 1929 novel La Memorias de Mamá Blanca; the second focused on the contemporary Brazilian novel. Over the years, he continued to publish in Hispania and in other leading journals such as the Revista Iberoamericana and Texto crítico. He also authored numerous entries in encyclopedias. George’s scholarly interests were wide-ranging, and looking at a list of his publications is bit like taking a tour of Latin America. In addition to Venezuela and Brazil, he worked on writers from Mexico, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Colombia, Uruguay, Chile, and Argentina. During his long career, he received two Fulbright grants, which enabled him to do research for extended periods of time in South America, particularly in Chile and Argentina.
In addition to his scholarly articles, he was the author of two undergraduate textbooks, a reader for second-year classes called Trece relatos hispánicos, published in 1959, and an anthology of Spanish literature, Literatura española contemporánea. This second project was carried out in collaboration with his friend and colleague the late Ricardo Gullón.
George spent a great deal of time making the literature he devoted his life to studying available to those who do not know Spanish through his translations, and they are a significant part of the legacy he leaves us. His translations of a number of short stories and poems by Mexican writers—including poems by Rosario Castellanos and Octavio Paz—are included in a book that came out in 1959 and was edited by Thomas Cranfill entitled The Muse in Mexico. His translation of Juan José Arrelola’s Confabulario and Other Inventions was published by the University of Texas Press in 1964. The translation for which he is best known is that of Juan Rulfo’s The Burning Plain and Other Stories, which was published by UT Press in 1967; a paperback edition came out in 1971 and is still in print.
In the 1980’s George published two articles on Neruda’s poetry and it was this work that led him to begin translating Neruda’s odes. Between 1954 and 1959, Neruda published four volumes of odes. From this enormous corpus, George selected 50 and his translations of them along with an excellent introduction were published in 1996 under the title Fifty Odes. At the end of his life, with Matilde’s assistance, he was working on Neruda’s Veinte poemas de amor.
In his 42 years on the faculty at the University of Texas, countless students passed through his classes, both undergraduate and graduate. His contribution to the formation of future scholars and teachers was especially significant as he served on so very many MA and PhD committees. The Graduate School’s computerized records go back as far as 1985 and so capture the last 12 years of George’s teaching. During that time, he directed or co-directed seven MA theses or reports and 12 doctoral dissertations. In addition, he served on five MA thesis or report committees and 30 dissertation committees. The actual number of students whose committees he chaired or served on over the course of his career surely surpasses 100. A 1997 interview with the journal Dactylus concluded with George talking about teaching graduate students: “Usted me ha preguntado, también, cuál considero yo mi mayor logro professional. Pues, enseñar. Estar cada viernes con un grupo de graduados en una sala de seminario y discutir las nuevas posibilidades de un texto literario ha sido lo mejor.”
Websites of interest:
Interview with George Schade by Kathy Everly in Dactylus 16 (1997):
George Schade’s works in libraries at UT:
University of Texas Press: The Burning Plain and Other Stories
University of Texas Press: Confabulario
NPR Series “You Must Read This: Writers and the Books They Love”
Oscar Casares talks about The Burning Plain and Other Stories