Hollander, Lee Milton (1880–1972)

By: Roy R. Barkley

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: February 1, 1995

Lee Milton Hollander, professor and scholar of North Germanic languages, was born on November 8, 1880, in Baltimore, Maryland, the son of Samuel and Amelia (Herstein) Hollander. After the death of his father in 1886 he lived in Germany with his mother and returned to Baltimore in 1897. He attended Johns Hopkins University, where he received his B.A. degree in 1901 and his Ph.D. in 1905. He then went to Scandinavia and spent 1906–07 studying North Germanic languages and literatures. He taught German at the University of Michigan from 1907 to 1910, and German and Scandinavian languages at the University of Wisconsin from 1911 to 1918. Since the domestic reaction to World War I anathematized Germanic studies in the United States, Hollander spent 1918 to 1920 filing newspaper clippings in the University of Wisconsin library. In 1920 he moved to Austin, Texas, to teach in the Germanic languages department at the University of Texas. He was chairman of the department from 1929 to 1946; he retired in 1968 but continued to produce scholarly works.

Some of the most important of Hollander's numerous translations and studies are The Poetic Edda (1928), Old Norse Poems (1936), The Skalds (1945), The Jomsvikinga Saga (1955), A Bibliography of Skaldic Studies (1958), Selections from the Writings of Kierkegaard (1923, 1960), and the Heimskringla of Snorri Sturluson (1964). He pursued his work vigorously until the year of his death, when his translation of Víga-Glúm's Saga appeared (1972).

Hollander was noted for his meticulous learning, his sensitive translations, and his unflinching attention to the originals with which he worked. He insisted that even the most well-known works in Old Norse had never been translated adequately because the translators did not know the language well enough and because they felt obliged to bowdlerize texts that they considered morally objectionable. For his work Hollander was named Knight of the Order of the Icelandic Falcon, member of the Norsk Videnskaps Akademi, president of the Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Studies (twice, 1919–21, 1960–61), and honorary life member of the Viking Society for Northern Research. He married Jean Wright Fisher on June 21, 1912, and they had three children. He died in Austin on October 19, 1972, and was cremated. Memorial services were held at Woods Hole, Massachusetts.

Directory of American Scholars (New York: Bowker, 1942-). Edgar C. Polomé, Old Norse Literature and Mythology: A Symposium (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1969). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Vertical Files, Austin History Center.


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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Roy R. Barkley, “Hollander, Lee Milton,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed November 29, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/hollander-lee-milton.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

February 1, 1995