RALPH FREEDMAN

Obituary
12 entries
  • ""Demain, j'irai demain voir ce pauvre chez lui Demain, je..."
    - Geneviève BECK-WIRTH
  • "It was an honor to have known Ralph. My deepest sympathies..."
    - Karyn Culligan Hudson
  • "Sending my deepest sympathies to Dr. Freedman's family and..."
    - Beth Figuls
  • "I met Ralph when we both pro-choice activists. I am honored..."
    - Darlene Carra
  • "I had the honor of being an undergraduate and graduate..."
    - Jeff Richards
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FREEDMAN--Ralph.

died in Decatur, Georgia, on May 5th, after a brief illness. Freedman was born on February 24, 1920 in Hamburg, Germany. A Jewish refugee, he emigrated to England in early 1939, and the United States in 1940. In 1941, he entered the army where he served as an intelligence officer and saw combat in Tunisia and at the invasion of Sicily and, finally, in the forward unit of 5th Army Headquarters in Italy. Upon his return, Ralph wrote a novel based on recollections of his brief post-war service in counter-intelligence in Austria, Divided (1948) which earned him the Lewis & Clark Northwest Award offered by E.P. Dutton in 1947 (unlike his first novel which he had flung into the Thames River in London). After graduating from the University of Washington, Ralph received an M.A. in philosophy from Brown and Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Yale in 1953. A revision of his dissertation The Lyrical Novel was published by the Princeton University Press in 1963. He later went on to publish biographies of Hermann Hesse (Pilgrim of Crisis, 1978) and Ranier Maria Rilke (Life of a Poet, 1996). His work has been translated into German, Italian, French, Korean, Spanish and Chinese. Freedman taught at the University of Iowa, was for many years a mainstay of the Comparative Literature Department at Princeton, and ended his career at Emory University. He was was unfailingly loyal to his friends and generous to his students, who loved him as much as he loved them. He survived the Nazis, the World War, McCarthyite America, the 60s, Reagan and Bush, all of whom he spent much time bemoaning; he wrote on Rilke, Hesse, Woolf and novel theory with old world knowingness and New World wonder. He sired three children, Jonathan of Ann Arbor, Michigan and Mark of New York, New York, and Ruth Ellen who died in 1966. His surviving children and his six grandchildren all miss him a ton.

Published in The New York Times on May 15, 2016