Nathaniel Tarn

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Nathaniel Tarn
Born (1928-06-30) June 30, 1928 (age 91)
NationalityUnited States
Other namesEdward Michael Mendelson, Michel Tavriger
OccupationPoet, translator, editor, professor of literature and anthropology

Nathaniel Tarn (born June 30, 1928) is an American poet, essayist, anthropologist, and translator. He was born in Paris to a French-Romanian mother and a British-Lithuanian father. [1] He lived in Paris until age 7, then in Belgium until age 11; when World War II began, the family moved to England. [2] [3] He emigrated to the United States in 1970 and taught at several American universities, primarily Rutgers, where he was a professor from 1972 until 1985. [1] He has lived outside Santa Fe, New Mexico since his retirement from Rutgers. [4]



Tarn was educated at Lycée d'Anvers and Clifton College and graduated with degrees in history and English from King's College, Cambridge. [3] He returned to Paris and, after some journalism and radio work, discovered anthropology at the Musée de l'Homme, the Ecole des Hautes Etudes and the Collège de France. [5] A Smith-Mundt-Fulbright grant took him to the University of Chicago; he did fieldwork for his doctorate in anthropology with the Highlands Maya of Guatemala. [3]


In 1958, a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation administered by the Royal Institute of International Affairs sent him to Burma for 18 months, after which he became an instructor at London School of Economics and then lecturer in Southeast Asian Anthropology at the School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London. [5] [4] Even after moving primarily to literature, he continued to write and publish anthropological work on the Highland Maya and on the sociology of Buddhist institutions, as E. Michael Mendelson. [6]

Tarn published his first volume of poetry Old Savage/Young City with Jonathan Cape in 1964 and a translation of Pablo Neruda's The Heights of Macchu Picchu in 1966 (broadcast by the BBC Third Programme 1966), and began building a new poetry program at Cape. He left anthropology in 1967. From 1967-9, he joined Cape as General Editor of the international series Cape Editions and as a Founding Director of the Cape-Goliard Press, specializing in contemporary American Poetry with emphasis on Charles Olson, Robert Duncan, Louis Zukofsky and their peers and successors. In 1970, with a principal interest in the American literary scene, he immigrated to the United States as Visiting Professor of Romance Languages, Princeton University, and eventually became a citizen. Later he moved to Rutgers. Since then he has taught English and American Literature, Epic Poetry, Folklore and other subjects at the Universities of Pennsylvania, Colorado, and New Mexico.

As poet, literary & cultural critic (Views from the Weaving Mountain, University of New Mexico Press, 1991, and "The Embattled Lyric, Stanford University Press, 2007), translator (he was the first to render Victor Segalen's "Stèles" into English, continued work on Neruda, Latin American and French poets) and editor (with many magazines), Tarn has published some thirty books and booklets in his various disciplines. He has been translated into ten foreign languages. In 1985, he took early retirement as Professor Emeritus of Poetry, Comparative Literature & Anthropology from Rutgers University and has since lived near Santa Fe, New Mexico. His interests range from bird watching, gardening, classical music, opera & ballet, and much varied collecting, to aviation and world history. [2] Tarn's literary and anthropological papers are held by Stanford University Libraries.

Selected publications


Criticism & anthropology

Critical studies

La Légende de Saint-Germain-des-Prés

Photo book by Serge Jacques with sparse texts by Michel Tavriger printed in both French and English, Paris, 1950 [9]

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  1. 1 2 "Nathaniel Tarn". Shearsman Books. Archived from the original on 2017-05-27. Retrieved 2017-06-21.
  2. 1 2 "Nathaniel Tarn entry: Stanford University Libraries, Stanford, California" . Retrieved 2011-03-10.
  3. 1 2 3 "Nathaniel Tarn Papers, Collection Guide". Online archive of California. California Digital Library. Retrieved 2017-06-21.
  4. 1 2 "Tarn, Nathaniel". Social Networks and Archival Context Cooperative Program. Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, University of Virginia. Retrieved 21 June 2017.
  5. 1 2 "Nathaniel Tarn". Poetry Foundation. Retrieved 21 June 2017.
  6. "Tarn, Nathaniel". Library of Congress Name Authority File. Library of Congress . Retrieved 21 June 2017.
  8. 1 2 Zamir, Shamoon (2010). "Scandals in the House of Anthropology: Notes towards a reading of Nathaniel Tarn". Jacket. 39.
  9. Behlen, Beatrice (2017). "Chapter 14:Le Noir Étant la Dominante de Notre Vêture… The Many Meanings of the Color Black in Post-War Paris". In Faiers, Jonathan; Westerman Bulgarella, Mary (eds.). Colors in Fashion. London, New York: Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 177. ISBN   978-1-474-27368-8. OCLC   952470499.