Frederick Robert Karl (1927–2004) was a literary biographer, best known for his work on Joseph Conrad, a literary critic, and an editor. He spent 25 years teaching at City College of New York and then followed with 18 years at New York University.
His first work, A Reader's Guide to Great 20th-Century English Novels, discussed writers such as E. M. Forster, D. H. Lawrence, Virginia Woolf and Joseph Conrad. He went on to write extensive biographies about Conrad, William Faulkner, Franz Kafka, and George Eliot. He also edited a multi-volume series, Biography and Source Studies, and co-edited a volume of letters between Conrad and Laurence Davies.
In 1968, he signed the “Writers and Editors War Tax Protest” pledge, vowing to refuse tax payments in protest against the Vietnam War.
Karl's book American Fiction, 1940-1980: A Comprehensive History & Critical Evaluation is infamous for omitting William Saroyan, one of the 20th century's most popular, esteemed, and influential writers.
- A Reader's Guide to Great 20th-Century English Novels (1959)
- Joseph Conrad: The Three Lives Farrar (Farrar Straus Giroux, 1979)
- American Fiction, 1940-1980: A Comprehensive History & Critical Evaluation (HarperCollins 1983)
- William Faulkner: American Writer (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1989)
- Franz Kafka: Representative Man (Ticknor & Fields, 1991)
- George Eliot -- Voice of a Century: A Biography (W. W. Norton, 1995)
- American Fictions: 1980-2000: Whose America Is It Anyway? (Xlibris, 2001)
- Art Into Life (Etruscan, 2005)
- “Writers and Editors War Tax Protest” January 30, 1968 New York Post
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