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American Literary Studies

Robert Pinsky Papers

The Papers

Location: Department of Special Collections, Green Library

Call Number: M0697

Size: 16.5 linear ft.

Finding Guide: A printed version is available in the reading room of the Department of Special Collections. Electronic versions of this finding guide are also available. If you have Microsoft's Internet Explorer version 6.0 or higher, click here to connect to the XML version on the Stanford server; if not, click here for the html version on the Online Archives of California server.

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, photographs, and microfilm 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 Robert Pinsky (1940 - )

Born in Long Branch, New Jersey in 1940, where he lived until he graduated from Long Branch High School. Pinsky studied English at Rutgers University (BA, 1962) and Stanford Univeristy (MA and PhD, 1967), where he was a Woodrow Wilson, Stegner, and Fulbright Fellow. His dissertation, Landor's Poetry, became his first published book. Pinsky's four volumes of poetry are distinguished by a quiet contemplative style that probes the moral and spiritual ambiguities of life in contemporary America. His first collection, Sadness and Happiness (1975), is composed of the published work of his first decade of writing. His next book, An Explanation of America (1979), shifts in style, containing a single long poem addressed to his daughter. He returned to the format of collected works in his latest work, History of My Heart (1984), a series of autobiographical poems. That same year he also published an electronic novel with an apocalyptic vision of the future, Mindwheel (1984), which functions as an interactive computer game. In 1994, he published a new verse translation of Dante's Inferno. He has been the poetry editor of the New Republic, and is the recipient of numerous awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship and the William Carlos Williams Award. He has been a Visiting Lecturer at Harvard (1980) and Hurst Professor at Washington University (1981), and is currently a member of the Department of English at Boston University.

Highlights and Research Potential of the Pinsky Papers

The papers trace Pinsky's creative and intellectual development, beginning with his years at Stanford. Included are numerous drafts of his poems, manuscripts of the prose, documents from his service as poetry editor for the New Republic, and extensive correspondence with his fellow writers and friends.

The papers are organized in seven series:

  1. Correspondence: This series is divided between personal and professional correspondence. Major personal correspondents include such contemporary writers such as David Bromwich, Alan Cheuse, Donald Davie, Digby Diehl, Donald Hall, Robert Haas, Edwin Honig, James McMichael, and John Peck, and C. K. Williams. Professional correspondence is alphabetized by organization or topic. Under New Republic are both letters and drafts of poetry submitted to Pinsky. Another large section of professional correspondence consists of Pinsky's files on his poetry readings, arranged by the names of the host institutions.
  2. Poetry: Manuscripts of Pinsky's Sadness and Happiness and An Explanation of America are arranged in order of revision, from the first draft to the final manuscript. The drafts of Sadness And Happiness are listed under various titles as the book progresses, and all copies of poems which have been deleted are to be found following the draft in which they last appeared. The drafts of An Explanation of America are organized according to the internal sections of the book itself. Manuscripts for History of My Heart and Pinsky's translation of the Inferno are also available.
    Miscellaneous poetry: Manuscripts are arranged alphabetically by title.
  3. Criticism: Included in this series are articles by Pinsky, as well as book reviews for the Los Angeles Times. The notes, drafts, and revisions of The Situation of Poetry are organized by chapters, in order of revision.
  4. Academic Papers: These undergraduate and graduate papers and notes remain in the order in which Pinsky arranged them. Major papers included are his undergraduate honors thesis, "The Plays of T. S. Eliot", and his graduate thesis, "The Poetry of Walter Savage Landor".
  5. Memorabilia: The items in this series include invitations to readings, newspaper clippings, and other miscellaneous material.
  6. Prose and Poetry by Other Writers: Included in this series are published and unpublished works by other writers, sent to Pinsky by his friends and former students.
  7. Galley Proofs: The papers include the galley proofs for Pinsky's most recent books.

Criticism on Robert Pinsky

  • Contemporary Authors, First Revision. (Detroit : Gale Research Co.) Green Library Gen Ref Z1224.C6, V. 29-32R
  • Dictionary of Literary Biography, 1982. (Detroit : Gale Research Co.) Green Library Gen Ref PS129.D521982




Last modified: July 5, 2006

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