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In Memoriam: Ken Lantz

Emeritus Professor Kenneth Alfred Lantz passed away on August 29, 2020. Born on October 21, 1940, in Edmonton, Alberta, into a family of Swedish and Norwegian immigrants, he was the youngest of four sons of Otto and Mayme Lantz. He spent his first nine years on a farm, and attended a one room school. He received his BA in Slavonic and Soviet Studies from the University of Alberta in 1963, and then served in the Canadian Army, in the armored corps and the 8 th Canadian Hussars, rising to the rank of Second Lieutenant. The climax of his army career was 1964 in Egypt, in the Sinai Desert, where the Reconnaissance Squadron to which he belonged was serving with the United Nations Emergency Force patrolling about twenty-five miles of the Egyptian-Israeli border south from the Gaza strip. After the army, which he left in 1965, he continued his studies at the University of Toronto, where he received his MA in 1967 and his PhD in 1974, both from the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures. He began to teach in the Department in 1970 as a lecturer, achieved tenure in 1976, and became a full professor in 1987. His specialty was nineteenth century Russian Literature, on which he wrote many articles and several books. His first book (1979) was on Nikolai Leskov, and he subsequently published reference books on Chekhov and Dostoevsky. He was also a noted translator. His two volume translation of Dostoevsky’s Writer’s Diary won the prize as the best translation of the year from the American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages (AATSEEL) in 1993. The paperback version of the translation came out in 1997.

In 2006, in recognition of his service, Ken received AATSEEL’s annual award for Outstanding Contribution to the Profession. Over his 35 year career, Ken was the kind of colleague that everyone is looking for: intelligent, kind, and conscientious. He was a dedicated teacher of both graduate and undergraduate students. He served twice as chair of the Department and took on many other administrative roles in the Department and the University. He was active in the profession at large, appraising departments and articles. He was secretary-treasurer of the Canadian Association of Slavists (CAS), edited the CAS newsletter for several years, and was the co-editor of Toronto Slavic Quarterly. He digitalized the first nine volumes of Dostoevsky Studies and put them up on the internet.

Ken retired in 2005, but he remained professionally active as a translator. A book of memoirs (Voices from the Gulag) translated by him and originally selected by Alexander Solzhenitsyn came out in 2010, and a book of Solzhenitsyn’s own short stories (Apricot Jam: and Other Stories) in a translation by Ken and Solzhenitsyn’s son Stephan appeared in 2012. In the past few years, he has been working as a translator with Donna Orwin on a two volume anthology of war and Russian Literature to be published by Columbia University Press. His contribution to this project has been immeasurable, and Donna, like all his friends and family, will miss him greatly. Ken’s beloved wife Penny predeceased him in 2017. He leaves behind his two daughters, Kristina and Jennifer, his grandson Nico (Reinders), his son in law Gavin Smith, his brother Edward Lantz, and his brother in law Richard Burley. 

Ken’s family has posted an obituary of him at If people want to communicate directly with the family about their memories of Ken, they can write Kristina at Those who want to contribute to a charity in Ken’s memory should do so to the Canadian War Amps at Ken always contributed to them himself and his daughters have requested that we honor him in this way.

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