In memoriam: George C. Schoolfield, scholar of Germanic and Scandinavian literature
George C. Schoolfield, professor emeritus of German and Scandinavian literature, died on July 21 after a long illness. He was 90 years old.
Schoolfield focused his research on German literature and Germany’s neo-Latin literature of the 16th and 17th centuries; German literature of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, especially the works of Rainer Maria Rilke; Finland’s Swedish-language and Finnish literature; and German-Scandinavian literary relations. He also conducted research on the literature of European decadence and dandyism. His numerous books include “The Figure of the Musician in German Literature,” “The German Lyric of the Baroque in English Translation,” and “Elmer Diktonius: Poetry and Politics in Finland,” and “A Baedeker of Decadence: Charting a Literary Fashion, 1884-1927,” as well as books and articles about Finnish history and culture, such as “Helsinki and the Czars: Finland’s Capital 1808-1908.” Up until his death, he worked to finish his final work on Finland Swedish poet Runar Schlitz, which will be published this fall.
Born in Charleston, West Virginia, Schoolfield graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 1946 in classics and German and received his Ph.D .from Princeton University in German literature in 1949. He taught at Harvard University, Duke University, and the University of Pennsylvania before coming to Yale in 1969, where he served as director of graduate studies and department chair. He retired in 1995.
He was knighted by the Finnish government Order of the White Rose twice and received an honorary doctorate from the University of Helsinki, and recognition from the Swedish Academy for furthering Swedish literature abroad.
Schoolfield served as both managing and review editor of the Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Studies Journal 1969–1984. He served on the publications board on the American Scandinavian Foundation 1965–1985.
Schoolfield’s family and friends remember him for his kindness, story-telling, intellectual curiosity, and love of Snickers bars and playing the French horn.
He is survived by his wife, Gloria Della Selva Schoolfield; daughters Susan Schoolfield (Tony Hines) and Marguerite Compton; grandchildren Melissa and Benjamin Osborne and Tyler and Matthew Compton; step-grandchildren Tony Hines Jr., Jillian Hines Oakes; three step great-grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Schoolfield’s name may be sent to The National MS Society, P.O. Box 4527, New York, NY 10163.