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American Literary Studies

Edward Dahlberg Papers

The Papers

Location: Department of Special Collections, Green Library

Call Number: M1551

Size: ca. 8 linear feet

Finding Guide: A printed version is available in the reading room of the Department of Special Collections. An electronic version of the finding guide is available here.

Research Access and Use: Materials in the Department of Special Collections are non-circulating and must be used in the Special Collections' Reading Room in the Cecil H. Green Library. The Reading Room is open 10:00am to 5:00pm Monday through Friday. Photocopies and photographs can be made of some materials in the collections. For more information about the collections and access policies, please contact Special Collections by telephone at (650) 725-1022, by electronic mail at or by regular mail at the Department of Special Collections, Stanford University Libraries, Stanford, California 94305-6004.

Career of Edward Dahlberg

Edward Dahlberg, American writer of fiction, poetry, and criticism, was born in Boston in 1900. After a tumultuous early childhood, he was placed by his mother in the Jewish Orphan Asylum in Cleveland, where he remained until 1917. Dahlberg then joined the army and later worked as a day laborer while wandering the American West. In 1921, he enrolled at the University of California, Berkeley, where he majored in philosophy and anthropology, before transferring to Columbia University to complete his degree.

Dahlberg moved to Europe in 1926 and became part of the expatriate group of American writers living in Paris. In 1929, he published his first novel, Bottom Dogs, based on his childhood experiences at the orphanage and his travels in the American West. After the publication of Bottom Dogs, Dahlberg returned to the United States and wrote a number of other works that reflected his early life, including From Flushing to Calvary (1932) and Those Who Perish (1934).

For a number of years, Dahlberg devoted himself to literary study. His extensive readings of the works of Dante, Shakespeare, Thoreau, and many others, resulted in a writing style quite different from the social realism that characterized his earlier writing. Dahlberg's new style, one rich in biblical and classical allusions, first appeared in Do These Bones Live (1941), a collection of essays on American Literature.

During most of the 1940s and 1950s, Dahlberg wrote little, but during the 1960s and 1970s, he became quite prolific and further refined his unique style through the publication of poetry, autobiographical works, fiction, and criticism. Dahlberg died in Santa Barbara, California in 1977.

Related Manuscript Collections at Stanford

Irving Rosenthal Papers



Last modified: May 19, 2009

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