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Collection Overview

Freedman, Ralph , 1920-2016
Ralph Freedman Correspondence
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
1947-2013 (mostly 1980-2010)
80 digital files, 3 linear feet, 3 boxes, and .1 GB
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Boxes B-001547 to B-001548, B-001854
German English French


Consists primarily of professional correspondence of literary scholar, author, and novelist Ralph Freedman (1920-2016).

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

This collection primarily includes files of correspondence of scholar and author Ralph Freedman (1920-2016). Most of the correspondence with friends, colleagues, publishers, and literary agencies, is professional in nature and relates to Freedman's writings and publications, projects, and professional associations, particularly those related to Rainer Maria Rilker; though some of the letters are personal. Freedman's files also document his work and activities related to the study of Hermann Hesse, other writings and publications, and teaching. Materials include email printouts as well as some digital records of writings as well as photographs and videos of conferences and other prodessional events.

Some files were created by Florence Weinberg, Freedman's literary executor.


Paper materials were loosely arranged intellectually and physically into major file groups; otherwise files were maintained as they were received from Freedman's literary executor.

Collection Creator Biography:

Ralph Freedman (1920-2016) was an author, literary theorist, and professor of comparative literature.

A Jewish refugee from Germany, Freedman emigrated to England in early 1939, and the United States in 1940. He served in the U.S. Army, in intelligence in the field during World War II in Tunisia and Italy and, at the end of the war, in a counterintelligence team in Austria. His two novels, Divided (1948) and Rue the Day (2009), were based on Freedman's war experiences; the former earned him the Lewis & Clark Northwest Award offered by E.P. Dutton in 1947. After graduating from the University of Washington, Freedman received an M.A. in philosophy from Brown in 1950 and a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Yale in 1954.

As a literary theorist, Freedman's research focused on lyric and prose fiction from the late 18th century through the 20th century, primarily English, German and French literature. He formed the governing board of senior fellows for a new national school of literary criticism at the University of California-Irvine in 1975. His published works in literary criticism include a revision of his dissertation "The Lyrical Novel: Studies in Hermann Hesse, Andre Gide and Virginia Woolf" (1963, Princeton University Press). Freedman wrote the biographies "Hermann Hesse: Pilgrim of Crisis" (1978), which was translated into German and Italian, and "Life of a Poet: Rainer Maria Rilke" (1996), which he began to research and write while at Princeton with a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1980 and which was published after his retirement. A prolific essayist, Freedman also edited "Virginia Woolf: Revaluation and Continuity." He translated into English Sten Nadolny's novel "Die Entdeckung der Langsamkeit," which was published in 1987 as "The Discovery of Slowness." His works have been translated into multiple languages, including German, Italian, French, Korean, Spanish and Chinese.

Freedman taught at the University of Iowa for eight years, followed by a long tenure at Princeton University from 1965 to 1988 where he co-organized the university's comparative literature program into the Department of Comparative Literature in 1975. He taught for two post-retirement years at Emory University. Freedman held fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and was active in professional societies such as the Modern Language Association and the American Comparative Literature Association.

Collection History


Gift of Mark Freedman in 2019 . AM 2020-37

Materials were sent by Florence Weinberg, Ralph Freedman's literary executor.


Email files were removed during 2022 processing due to their sensitive nature and because their content was out of scope.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Faith Charlton in February-March 2020 and March-April 2022. Finding aid written by Faith Charlton in February-March 2020 and March-April 2022.

The born-digital materials in this collection have been processed according to Princeton University Library's Born-Digital Processing Workflows. For more information on the workflow, please read our full Born-Digital Processing Information Note.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Princeton University Library holds the copyright for materials in this collection that were created by Ralph Freedman. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to RBSC Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. Single copies may be made for research purposes. To cite or publish quotations that fall within Fair Use, as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission is required. For instances beyond Fair Use, any copyright vested in the donor has passed to The Trustees of Princeton University and researchers do not need to obtain permission, complete any forms, or receive a letter to move forward with use of donor-created materials within the collection. For materials in the collection not created by the donor, or where the material is not an original, the copyright is likely not held by the University. In these instances, it is the responsibility of the researcher to determine whether any permissions related to copyright, privacy, publicity, or any other rights are necessary for their intended use of the Library's materials, and to obtain all required permissions from any existing rights holders, if they have not already done so. Princeton University Library's Special Collections does not charge any permission or use fees for the publication of images of materials from our collections. The department does request that its collections be properly cited and images credited. More detailed information can be found on the Copyright, Credit and Citations Guidelines page on our website. If you have a question about who owns the copyright for an item, you may request clarification by contacting us through the Ask Us! form.

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.

This collection contains digital files, which may require specific software or hardware for access. Refer to our Tips on Accessing Born-Digital Content for information on how to render these file formats.

Credit this material:

Ralph Freedman 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-001547 to B-001548, B-001854

Find More


The following resources were used for the biography note: Jamie Saxon, "Ralph Freedman, literary theorist and 'genuine mentor,' dies at 96." Princeton University News. May 16, 2016. Accessed February 2020. Ralph Freedman. Obituary. The New York Times. May 15, 2016. Accessed February 2020.

Subject Terms:
Comparative literature.
Literary criticism.
Novelists, American--20th century--Sources.
Princeton University -- Faculty.
Genre Terms:
Weinberg, Florence