He made his debut at age 23 in the literary magazine Gândirea, together with Tudor Vianu. He also wrote for Revista Fundaţiilor Regale. From 1937 to 1941, he held an Alexander von Humboldt fellowship, sponsored by the Foreign Office of Nazi Germany. He was on the Faculty at the University of Bucharest between 1941 and 1949.
After the establishment of the communist regime, Papadima was arrested in 1952 for "counterrevolutionary activities" and for his writings from the interbellic period (especially at Gândirea). He was imprisoned at Calea Rahovei, Ghencea, Craiova, Poarta Albă (at the notorious Danube-Black Sea Canal), Gherla prison, and Jilava. Physically exhausted after this experience (his weight dropped to only 44 kg), he was released on October 7, 1955. Prevented from publishing for several years, he was politically rehabilitated in 1971.
- O viziune românească a lumii, 1941
- Neam, sat, oraş în poezia lui Octavian Goga, Bucharest: Fundația Regală pentru Literatură și Artă, 1942
- Creatorii şi lumea lor, 1943
- Poezia şi cunoaşterea etnică, 1944
- Cu cît cînt, atîta sînt: antologie a liricii popular, Bucharest: Editura pentru literatură, 1963
- Literatură populară Română; din istoria şi poetica ei, Bucharest: Editura Pentru Literatură, 1968.
- Ipostaze ale luminismului românesc, 1975