Richard G. Stern Biography

Biography

(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Richard Stern is often referred to as a writer’s writer, much honored by his peers but relatively neglected by the critics and (with one or two exceptions) by the reading public. He was born Richard Gustave Stern on February 25, 1928, in New York City, the son of a dentist; both his parents were of German Jewish descent. A brilliant and precocious student, Stern entered the University of North Carolina at the age of sixteen; he graduated in 1947. He received an M.A. from Harvard University in 1949 and a Ph.D. from the University of Iowa in 1954. In 1955 he began teaching at the University of Chicago, where he would remain, with visiting stints at other universities. In 1950 Stern and Gay Clark were married; they had four children. The marriage ended in divorce; in 1985 Stern married the poet Alane Rollings.

With Golk, Stern made a strong debut as a novelist. Centering on a fictitious television program based on the then-popular Candid Camera, the 1960 work came at a time when television, though already all-pervasive in American life, had received little serious attention. The program, called You’re On Camera, catches people unawares, exposing them to the laughter of viewers all over the country. The novel’s protagonist, Herbert Hondorp, becomes involved in the program, but when he himself is trapped in embarrassing behavior, he decides to betray his employer. Involved in the plot is Hondorp’s marriage, in which fidelity and betrayal become equally entwined—as in the...

(The entire section is 624 words.)

Richard G. Stern Biography

(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Richard Gustave Stern was born in New York City on February 25, 1928, the son of German-Jewish immigrants. He married Gay Clark in 1950 and was divorced in 1972. He married Alane Rollings in 1985. He has four children. Stern received his B.A. degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1947, where he became a member of Phi Beta Kappa. After graduating, he worked in a department store in Indiana, in a Florida radio station, and at Paramount International Films in New York. He earned his M.A. degree from Harvard University in 1949, writing the Bowdoin Prize essay on the poet John Crowe Ransom. He was a lecturer at Collège Jules Ferry in Versailles, France, from 1949 to 1950; a lecturer at the University of Heidelberg in Germany from 1950 to 1951; and an educational adviser for the U.S. Army from 1951 to 1952. While teaching at the University of Heidelberg, he worked nights as a cable clerk with the American occupation army. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Iowa in 1954. From 1954 to 1955, he was an instructor at Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut.

In 1956, Stern became an assistant professor of English at the University of Chicago, where he continued to teach. He became an associate professor in 1962 and a full professor in 1965. In 1991, he was named Helen A. Regenstein Professor of English. He has been a visiting lecturer at the University of Venice (1962-1963); the University of California, Santa Barbara (1964,...

(The entire section is 418 words.)

Richard G. Stern Biography

(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Richard Gustave Stern was born in New York City on February 25, 1928. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, in 1947, and he received an M.A. from Harvard University in 1949 and a Ph.D. from the University of Iowa in 1954. From 1955 to 2004, when he retired as Helen A. Regenstein Professor of English and American Literature, he was a member of the faculty at the University of Chicago. In addition, he has been a visiting lecturer at such institutions as the University of Venice, Harvard University, and the University of Nice.