2 thoughts on “Robert Hollander Jr.

  1. Stephen G Nichols

    I first met Bob Hollander in the early 1970s—as I did so many Princeton friends— thanks to Bert Sonnenfeld. Ours might well have remained a casual acquaintanceship if Bob had not come to Dartmouth one summer to teach a course on Dante, and to lead a faculty reading group on Boccaccio (which he did with the flair only he could bring to the Decameron).

    One day over lunch, Bob shared a vision for developing a computer program to collect all extant Dante commentaries in one scholarly resource. In the 1970s linking computers to humanities projects of this ambition wasn’t just new; it was revolutionary. Intrigued by Bob’s enthusiasm, I found some funds to allow him to create a pilot program to demonstrate the feasibility of his idea. But this wasn’t something he could do alone. With charm and humor Bob convinced a group of young Dartmouth Romance Languages faculty to work with him.
    Within a shorter time than any one else would have managed, Bob and his team created a model that won an NEH grant.

    Subsequently this project grew from a pilot program into the prestigious international Dartmouth Dante Project. Although with his usual generosity, he always gave credit to the young faculty members who helped get the project off the ground, Bob was justifiably proud of having been a pioneer in demonstrating the efficacy of computers for large-scale humanities research. For me it was a chance to share a friendship at an important moment, not to mention the privilege of an invitation for Edie and me to share a memorable Thanksgiving with him and Jean in Hopewell.

  2. albert sonnenfeld

    I met Bob in 1960, when he bussed down from Columbia to precept in my Lit. 141 course on European Writers. He was an old Tiger, [’55] and so happy to return to his alma mater. He soon spotted the “spotty” Italian program, and in one of those intense and admirable acts of sheer will-power Bob secretly vowed to master Italian and become the Dante specialist so lacking in our ranks.
    He worked so hard to achieve this goal and succeeded beyond anyone’s imagining. His Dante course developed its own alumni, who at each Princeton reunion would work up a canto or two for learned discussion. Bob became one of the great Dante scholars, and, with Jean, magisterial translators of the Cantos.
    I remember fondly his sojourn with us at Aiguebelle, and the bottle of Volnay we shared for our July birthdays!
    I could go on, but my admiration and friendship for Bob and Jean, his fellow translator, only increased over the years of Jean’s legendary post-Thanksgiving turkey sandwiches
    Albert Sonnenfeld *58

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