Milton Hindus was born in the Bronx, New York City on August 26, 1916 and grew up in Brooklyn. He entered the City College of New York in Manhattan at the early age of fifteen and graduated with his Bachelor of Arts degree with Special Honors in Literature in 1936, at the age of nineteen. He received his Master's degree in 1938 from the same school. After Hindus completed additional graduate work at Columbia University (1938-1939) and the University of Chicago (1947-1948), he taught at the University of Chicago in the capacity of assistant professor. Hindus came to Brandeis in 1948 upon leaving Chicago and was one of the thirteen founding faculty members of Brandeis University. He stayed at Brandeis throughout his career and taught for 33 years (1948-1981) before retiring as the Edytha Macy Gross Professor of Humanities. From 1965 to 1967 he was the occupant of the Peter and Elizabeth Wolkenstein Chair in English and American Literature at Brandeis. In 1986, Hindus was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters by the University. He was elected three times as president of the Brandeis chapter of the American Association of University Professors, and served as Chairman of the Jewish Faculty Group of Greater Boston. As an educator, Hindus also taught summer sessions at NYU, CUNY, and UCLA and conducted study groups with the Brandeis University National Women's Committee on the subjects of literature and Jewish culture. He was deeply committed to education and considered the university to be a place of study and thought, rather than social activism of the sort that marked Brandeis in the 1960s and 1970s.
As a writer, Hindus was prolific; he published 14 books, wrote an exorbitant number of reviews, and contributed to reference works in Germany, Israel, England and the United States. He is, perhaps, most famous for his book The Crippled Giant, which details his meeting with the then-exiled French novelist and anti-semite pamphleteer Louis-Ferdinand Celine. Hindus gained instant recognition as well as notoriety for his brutally honest portrayal of the much maligned literary figure, and received both accolades as well as derision for his book. Numerous editions of The Crippled Giant were subsequently released, among them was the 1986 edition which also included selections of Hindus's correspondence with Celine. Some of his other notable publications include: The Proustian Vision (1954), F. Scott Fitzgerald: An Introduction and Interpretation (1967), The Old East Side (1969), A World at Twilight (1971), and Charles Reznikoff (1977). His edited volume on Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass: One Hundred Years After (1955) won the Walt Whitman Prize from The Poetry Society of America. Hindus has also served as an editor of the sixteen-volume Encyclopaedia Judaica (1972). Hindus was a regular book reviewer for The New York Herald Tribune from 1941 to 1943, and he also wrote reviews for various journals devoted to the review of recent publications, such as The New Boston, and the Kenyon and Sewanee Reviews. He contributed literary reviews and essays for general interest publications such as The Atlantic Monthly, The Chicago Sunday Tribune, and The New York Times Book Review. In addition, Hindus' great interest in Jewish literature and various aspects of Jewish culture and history led him to write for a great variety of Jewish-related journals such as The Chicago Jewish Forum, Midstream, The Jewish Frontier and Commentary.
Being an occasional writer of fiction as well as poetry (a slim volume of poems, entitled The Broken Music-Box, was published by the Menard Press in 1980), Hindus was responsible for bringing a diverse group of literary stars to the Brandeis campus, among them, Saul Bellow, e.e. cummings, Allen Ginsberg, Dylan Thomas, and William Carlos Williams. Hindus was also an active participant in the lecture circuit and gave several presentations and talks in Jerusalem, as well as various cities in the United States and Canada, both for academic bodies as well as private organizations. Although Hindus is best known for his numerous books and written work, he was also deeply interested in music, published a classical song, An Evening Song, and wrote the lyrics for a Broadway musical revue. Milton Hindus passed away May 28, 1998.