Hine’s Cassirer

As of autumn 2019, I am postdoctoral research associate for the Sheffield Cassirer project, leading the digitisation and republication of the works of Heinrich Walter (“Heinz”) Cassirer.

Born in Starnberg in 1903, Heinz Cassirer completed a PhD in classical philology at Heidelberg University before being forced into economic exile: As a Jewish academic, he was ruled out of employment by the first laws of the Hitler regime which banned “non-Aryans” from the civil service (including university roles). After a short spell in Zurich, he came to the UK where he found what should have been postdoctoral work at the University of Glasgow (though he ended up with another PhD, instead of the promised DLitt). He was part of the so-called Moral Philosophy department, acting as a research assistant for H.J. (“Hamish”) Paton, who was completing a two-volume commentary on Kant.

Cassirer continued as a Kant scholar, publishing monographs on Kant’s first and third critiques (and posthumously a translation of Kant’s second critique), and found work at the University of Oxford–aided by Paton’s patronage–from 1938 to 1946. He then returned to Glasgow, before abruptly leaving academia to pursue independent interests.

By this time he was becoming a self-taught biblical scholar, and he went on to create a complete and independent translation of the New Testament (published posthumously in 1989).

He retained his classical interests, and his final completed work was a translation of Sophocles’ play Oedipus at Colonus (c. 1978). This remained unpublished until the Sheffield Cassirer project came along:–there is now a digital script and an audio recording of the complete play, recorded in lockdown with a South Yorkshire cast.

Noting that whatever reflections on Cassirer’s works I may come up will be manifestly mine, I have dubbed my contribution to this project (and the work-in-progress site), “Hine’s Cassirer”.

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