Contents and Arrangement Expanded View

Collection Overview

Frank, Joseph, 1918-2013
Joseph Frank Correspondence
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
1930-2013 (mostly 1950-1987)
22 boxes and 8.4 linear feet
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Boxes B-000090 to B-000105, B-000638, B-000899 to B-000902, B-001317


Joseph Frank (1918-2013) was an American literary scholar best known for his five-volume biography of Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky, which he began in the early 1970s and completed in 2002. The collection consists of his personal and professional correspondence, including with Elizabeth Bishop, Yves Bonnefoy, Pierre Bourdieu, Ralph Ellison, Carlos Fuentes, Irving Howe, James Laughlin, Richard W. B. Lewis, Mary McCarthy, Allen Tate, and other writers, artists, and academics, as well as some family correspondence, writings, personal documents, and printed materials.

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

The collection consists Joseph Frank's personal and professional correspondence with various academics, artists, poets, and writers, including Lionel Abel, Hannah Arendt, Janice Biala, Djuna Barnes, Robert Belknap, Saul Bellow, Elizabeth Bishop, R. P. Blackmur, Yves Bonnefoy, Pierre Bourdieu, Kenneth Burke, Alain Clément, Edward Cone, Malcolm Cowley, Louis Dumont, Ralph Ellison, Maurice English, Robert Fagles, Francis Fergusson, Georges Florovsky, Carlos Fuentes, Edwin Honig, Irving Howe, Erich Kahler, Walter Kaufmann, Alfred Kazin, Edmund Keeley, Richard Kostelanetz, James Laughlin, Richard W. B. Lewis, Elizabeth Lowell, Jean Malaquais, Mary McCarthy, Frederick Morgan, Julian Lane Moynahan, Joyce Carol Oates, Jean Piel, John Crowe Ransom, Richard Rorty, Karl Shapiro, Carl E. Schorske, Katharine Strelsky, Arthur Szathmary, Allen Tate, Tzvetan Todorov, Ian Watt, Paul Zweig, and others, as well as some family correspondence. Other materials include annotated offprints and reprints of writings by others, a notebook with Frank's reading notes on Russian literature, a small amount of writings by Frank, personal documents, and a few photographs. Much of Frank's correspondence regards relationships he developed with scholars associated with the Gauss Seminars in Criticism.


The collection is organized into the following four series:

Collection Creator Biography:

Frank, Joseph, 1918-2013

Joseph Frank (1918-2013) was an American literary scholar best known for his five-volume biography of Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky, which he began in the early 1970s and completed in 2002. Born in New York City as Joseph Nathaniel Glassman, Frank adopted his stepfather's surname when his mother, Jennifer Garlick, remarried following his father's early death. Although he never formally earned a bachelor's degree, Frank studied briefly at New York University and the University of Wisconsin. Prior to beginning his Dostoyevsky project, he published essays and criticism in literary journals, including "Spatial Form in Modern Literature," which appeared in The Sewanee Review in 1945 and set the stage for his career as a critic and lecturer on 20th century literature. After working at the Bureau of National Affairs in Washington, D.C., in the 1940s, Frank left for Paris on a Fulbright scholarship in 1950, where he met his wife, the mathematician Marguerite Straus Frank, with whom he later had two daughters, Isabelle and Claudine. Frank earned his PhD from the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago in 1960 and taught at the University of Wisconsin and Rutgers University. He was named the Class of 1926 Professor of Comparative Literature at Princeton University, where he taught from 1966 until 1985, teaching afterward at Stanford University until his retirement. At Princeton, Frank also served as the Director of the Gauss Seminars in Criticism, which brought many international critics, artists, poets, and scholars to the university for lectures and discussions exploring the theory and practice of criticism in the humanities and sciences. He died at age 94 in Palo Alto, California.

Collection History


Gift of Isabelle Frank in 2015 (AM 2016-47). Additions from Isabelle Frank were added to the collection in 2016 (AM 2016-80), 2017 (AM 2017-137), and 2019 (AM 2019-116).


Nothing was removed from the collection during 2015-2019 processing.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Kelly Bolding in December 2015-January 2016. Finding aid written by Kelly Bolding in January 2016 and updated in April 2016, May 2017, and May 2019.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. No further photoduplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to RBSC Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

Credit this material:

Joseph Frank Correspondence; Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Boxes B-000090 to B-000105, B-000638, B-000899 to B-000902, B-001317