Monday, January 12, 2009

R.I.P. Edson Chick


I just learned that one of my college professors died. Herr Professor Dr. Edson Chick was head of the German department at my college, and even though I never learned a word of German, he was one of my favorite professors. I took a class freshman year called "Literature in Translation" where six different professors, each one of whom taught a different language, came in and lectured on a book written in the language they taught. So the Spanish professor from Spain taught "Don Quixote", the Spanish professor from South America taught "One Hundred Years of Solitude", the Russian professor taught "Oblomov", the French professor taught 'Madame Bovary", one German professor taught "The Sorrows of Young Werther", and Herr Chick taught Thomas Mann's "The Magic Mountain". I loved this class...all the professors were great, and they made all the books come alive. But Herr Chick stood out even in that crowd. He looked the part of a German...tall, blonde hair in a crew cut, muscular build, and blue eyes, although I later learned he was a native of California. And he taught the hell out of "The Magic Mountain". His enthusiasm for the book was infectious, at least to me, and I ended up reading the book twice. The next year I took a course he taught called "German Theatre in Translation". I had no knowledge of German theatre, nor any special interest in the subject matter when I signed up for the class...I just figured the reading would be interesting with him teaching it. And it was. There were only four students in the class, and we basically just sat around a table reading plays, with Herr Chick often bursting out in hearty laughter at the humorous parts. The sheer joy he found in the plays was a total delight, and made the class incredibly fun. Great teachers are rare, as perhaps are students who can appreciate them, but when you have one and can open your heart and mind to the experience, it can make the rest of your life much richer. Thanks for everything, Herr Chick. I owe you one.

7 comments:

Steaks said...

Dr. Virus's infectious enthusiasm for Der Zauberberg was transmitted to me, so I, too, tip my hat to Herr Doktor Professor Chick. Buddenbrooks also awesome!

Asta said...

I found a recommendation to read your blog in my daily newspaper. My personal list of books I must read before entering the other side looks slightly different from yours, but that can be changed-:)

Robby Virus said...

In your daily newspaper??? Which newspaper?

Amateur Reader said...

Someday I'll write something like this for my best teachers. Very nice.

Anonymous said...

I read with great delight your comments about my father-in-law. He loved what he did and it always showed. He was known to all of us as a man with a great thirst for knowledge. My parting words to such a great man.....
Ted we send you off on your journey to sail the clear calm waters, with chart in hand to guide you through the waters. I am confident you know where you are headed, wait for us, when we arrive I know you will be there with your warm smile and your blue eyes alight.

Thank you for your love and affection you so freely shared with each and everyone of us.


Auf Wiedersehen

Anonymous said...

Herr Chick is my grandfather and I also experienced what a great teacher he was but as a student in life. I speak no German, instead I opted to study Italian but I do remember the one phrase he taught us kids when we were little. Schwiesse Foos, he would say that and we would repeat it as he would roar with laughter. I loved my grandfather very much and will miss him terribly everyday. The on thing I would like to correct is that Grandpa Chick was a native of Massachusettes, having been born in Concord Ma and if asked where he was from he would tell you Vermont. Thank you for appreciating my grandpa as much as I do.

Shane Chick

Anonymous said...

The newspaper in question was Dagens Nyheter: www.dn.se