Recent Acquisitions: David Foster Wallace and Denis Johnson
The Ransom Center recently acquired the archives of two celebrated American authors. The papers of David Foster Wallace (1962-2008), known for his colossal novel Infinite Jest (1996) and for his detailed and witty essays and stories, arrived in the last days of 2009. The archive of Denis Johnson (b. 1949), whose 2007 novel Tree of Smoke received the National Book Award, arrived in May.
Wallace, who committed suicide at age 46, was widely acclaimed and had a devoted following of readers. His archive is filled with manuscripts, research materials, his college and graduate school writings, juvenilia, and teaching materials. Highlights include handwritten notes and drafts of Infinite Jest, poems and letters written when he was a young child, a copy of his dictionary with words circled throughout, and his richly annotated copies of books by Don DeLillo, Cormac McCarthy, John Updike, and more than 40 other authors. Materials for Wallace's posthumous novel, The Pale King, are included in the archive but will remain with Little, Brown and Company until the book's publication, scheduled for April 2011. The Wallace papers are being cataloged and will be available for research this September.
Denis Johnson began his career as a poet and gained recognition with the publication of his first novel, Angels, in 1983. Johnson is known for his poetic style and his candid portrayals of American life, often at its grimmest. In 1992, he received critical acclaim for his story collection, Jesus' Son, which was adapted into a film in 1999. His extensive archive comprises manuscripts, research materials, journals, correspondence, family photos and juvenilia, audio recordings, books, and other items. Many of Johnson's pre-1992 works exist only in digital form, and bundles of computer disks are included in the archive. Other highlights include an early family scrapbook, letters written by Johnson to his parents, and the knife-and-eye prosthesis Johnson wore during his cameo in the film Jesus' Son.
Other recent acquisitions include:
- The archive of screenwriter and director Paul Schrader. A gift from Schrader, the collection includes materials related to such films as Taxi Driver (1976), Raging Bull (1980), American Gigolo (1980), and The Mosquito Coast (1986), as well as correspondence with Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro, Harold Pinter, and Natasha Richardson, among other items.
- A substantial addition to the archive of author Don DeLillo.
- A collection of nearly 300 letters written by novelist James Salter to his mother over more than two decades.
- The archive of theater director Charles Marowitz, who is best known for his collaborations with Peter Brook at the Royal Shakespeare Company and as founder of the Open Space Theatre in London.
- The major and minor doctoral theses of anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss, the father of modern anthropology and structuralism, which were presented at the Sorbonne University in Paris in 1948.
- A set of alphabet type blocks used in the Ovid Press edition of T. S. Eliot's Ara Vos Prec, a gift from Carol Rothkopf in honor of bookseller Anthony Rota, who died in 2009.