Joseph Frank was perhaps best known for his five-volume biography of Fyodor Dostoevsky—published between 1976 and 2002 and revised in 2010 into a single huge volume—but his life of letters extended far beyond the study of the Russian literary icon. In fact, in 1945 the Sewanee Review published the first of many Frank essays to appear in the magazine: "Spatial Form in Modern Literature," a piece discussing the aesthetics of the modern novel—using examples by Eliot, Joyce, Proust, and Pound—which was the centerpiece of Frank's first book of essays (The Widening Gyre, 1963). That first essay jumpstarted Frank's academic career, and he went on to become a renowned essayist, reviewer, and Russian scholar, as well as a beloved professor at the University of Minnesota, Rutgers, Princeton, and finally Stanford.
Although Frank never earned a bachelor's degree, he was awarded honorary Ph.D.s from the University of Chicago, Adelphi University, and Northwestern University, as well as a Docteur Honoris Causa from Sorbonne University in Paris. Frank's literary awards include two Guggenheim fellowships, a fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a National Book Critics Circle Award, a research grant of nearly nine years from the National Endowment for Humanities, two James Russell Lowell Prizes, and the Efim Etkind Prize from the European University in Saint-Petersburg, awarded "for the best book about Russian Literature and Culture by a Western Scholar."
Read more about Joseph Frank's life and letters from the New York Times and Stanford. Also check out the two pieces on Frank in our upcoming summer 2013 issue—F. D. Reeve writes on two recent editions by Frank: Responses to Modernity: Essays in the Politics of Culture and Dostoevsky: A Writer in His Time, and Ann E. Berthoff writes a personal remembrance of Frank.