Victor A. Oswald, Jr.
Professor of Germanic Languages, Emeritus
Victor A. Oswald, Jr., professor of German, joined the UCLA Department of Germanic Languages in 1947 and retired in 1977. He graduated from Princeton University and got his Ph.D. at Columbia University with a thesis in Germanic linguistics. During World War II he worked for ‘Voice of America’, and throughout his career he continued as an occasional government consultant. At UCLA he concentrated on modern German literature. In 1953 he received a one-year Guggenheim Fellowship to study in Vienna the writings of the important Austrian poet Hugo von Hofmannsthal, whose works, at that time, were not readily available in a complete edition. Out of his Viennese studies grew his scholarly interest in another Viennese author, Arthur Schnitzler. Victor A. Oswald was one of the first to discuss the intriguing connection between Arthur Schnitzler and his Viennese contemporary Sigmund Freud. His investigation (with Veronica Pinter Mindess) “Schnitzler’s Fräulein Else and the Psychoanalytical Theory of Neuroses” (1951) became a seminal study in modern Schnitzler scholarship.
Victor A. Oswald liked to teach early in the morning. Undergraduates who wanted to take advantage of his superior knowledge in modern German literature had to come to class at 8 a.m. When Professor Oswald was chair of the Department (twice in his career), his staff and his colleagues were encouraged to meet him at 8 a.m. as well. He was of the opinion that ‘business’ had to be finished by 10 a.m. Professor Oswald was an absolutely fair-minded and helpful professor, colleague, and chair. Struggling students, or for that matter, assistant professors, found all the support they could wish for. His favorite pastime during the early afternoon was swimming. If you missed him in the morning you could find him at Sunset Recreation Center doing laps or reading and listening to music from his small radio.
Some years after his retirement Professor Oswald moved to Oklahoma and became hard to track down. We were happy to hear that he enjoyed good health to the very end of his life.