Highlights of the Renee and Theodore Weiss Collection

The Theodore and Renee Weiss Library

Theodore Weiss (1916–2003) was a poet, critic, professor of poetry at Princeton University, and editor, with his wife Renee (1924-2021), of the Quarterly Review of Literature. As a poet, Weiss was probably best known for his work, “Gunsight” (1962), which traces the experiences of a wounded US soldier fighting in WWII as he loses consciousness before undergoing surgery. His other books of poetry include The World Before Us: Poems, 1950-1970 (1970), Fireweeds (1976), Recoveries: A Poem (1982), A Slow Fuse: New Poems (1984) and A Sum of Destructions (1995). As a critic, Weiss was the author of a study of Shakespeare's early comedies and histories, The Breath of Clowns and Kings (1971), and The Man from Porlock: Engagements, 1944-1981 (1982). He was the editor of Selections from the Notebooks of Gerard Manley Hopkins (1945).

The Quarterly Review of Literature (QRL) was founded in 1943 by Warren Pendleton Carrier. Renee and Ted took it over in 1944 when Carrier entered the military. The QRL showcased emerging and major writers including William Carlos Williams, Wallace Stevens, e.e. cummings, Thomas Merton, Mark Van Doren, Ezra Pound, Henry Miller, Jean-Paul Sartre, Franz Kafka, Eugenio Montale, and John Ashbery. 


Renee and Ted Weiss were the center of a vibrant literary community. Their library bears witness to their many important friendships, and the critical role they played in the little magazine scene of the mid- and late-twentieth century.

The Weiss library, offered for sale, includes 443 volumes.  The majority are rare poetry books from the modern era, but fiction, memoir and literary criticism are also represented significantly.  More than 75 books are signed and inscribed first editions, including major works by Eudora Welty, Lawrence Durrell, Seamus Heaney, Gore Vidal, John Ashberry, Joyce Carol Oates, Denise Levertov, James Merrill, and Paul Muldoon.  The author inscriptions speak to Ted and Renee's intimate relationships with the leading literary figures of the era.  Additional unsigned first editions by W.S. Merwin, Elizabeth Bishop, W.H. Auden, Ezra Pound, Walter Benjamin, Herman Hesse, Richard Wilbur, Muriel Rukeyser, Delmore Schwartz, Adrienne Rich and William Carlos Williams, including a complete 5-volume set of Patterson, round out the collection.

 A complete listing of the collection can be found here.  A list of the items highlighted below is here.