Ritchie Robertson retired in 2021 as Schwarz-Taylor Professor of German at Oxford University. He is a Fellow of the Queen’s College, Oxford, and an Emeritus Fellow of St John’s College, Oxford. He was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 2004.
His books include Kafka: Judaism, Politics and Literature (Oxford University Press, 1985); The ‘Jewish Question’ in German Literature, 1749-1939 (Oxford University Press, 1999); Mock-Epic Poetry from Pope to Heine (Oxford University Press, 2009); and short introductory studies of Heine, Kafka, Goethe, and Nietzsche. He has published some 200 articles on topics in German and comparative literature from the seventeenth century to the present day.
The Enlightenment: The Pursuit of Happiness 1680-1790 was published in 2020 by Allen Lane in the UK and in 2021 by HarperCollins in the US. Writing for The Times, Tom Holland said that ‘Robertson must be reckoned a historian of very high quality indeed. His book is not just learned and balanced, it is also – in the noblest tradition of the Enlightenment itself – principled and humane.’ Robert Mayhew in the Literary Review called it ‘the best single-volume history of the Enlightenment that we have’, while David Womersley in Standpoint, noting that ‘Robertson’s range allows him to make many illuminating comparisons and some provocative juxtapositions’, predicted that it ‘will inform the general reader while also often provoking, delighting and surprising the specialist’. The Enlightenment appeared in paperback in April 2022.
Robertson is also a translator, having translated several books by Moritz, Hoffmann, Heine and Kafka for the Penguin Classics and the Oxford World’s Classics. For the latter he is general editor of a forthcoming set of new translations from Thomas Mann, and has himself translated Doctor Faustus.