Raymond Federman

Raymond Federman (1928-2009) was a French-born scholar, critic, poet and avant-garde novelist. Federman wrote in the experimental style of “surfiction,” (a term he coined, similar in meaning to “meta-fiction”) that doesn’t try to imitate reality but rather expose the fictionalized quality of what we consider “real.”

Federman was born in Montrouge, France, and lost his family to the Holocaust during World War II. He emigrated to the United States in 1947 and served in the U.S. Army in Korea and Japan, then studied at Columbia University under the G.I. Bill. He received both his M.A. and Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from UCLA, with his doctoral dissertation on Samuel Beckett.

Federman taught in the French Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara from 1959 to 1964, and in the French Department at The State University of New York at Buffalo from 1964 to 1973, and as a fiction writer in the English Department at SUNY-Buffalo from 1973 to 1999.

As a friend and prominent scholar of Beckett’s, Federman is often closely associated with the famous Irish playwright. He deployed prose in similarly unorthodox fashion, and like Beckett, he also wrote in French as well as English. But Federman’s books are often meant for the eye as well as the ear, containing artful typography, with self-referential and playful manipulation of language.

Go here to explore the finding aid for the Raymond Federman Papers and other Federman resources at Washington University.

Modern Literature Collection: The First Fifty Years

Raymond Federman