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Posts by Anne Garner

Happy 100th, May Sarton!

May 3rd marks the centenary of the birth of poet and novelist May Sarton. Sarton’s most important novel, Mrs. Stevens Hears the Mermaids Singing, tells the story of septuagenarian Hilary Stevens, a poet whose life is retold episodically during an interview with two writers from a literary magazine.

In notes for the draft of Mrs. Stevens, now in the Henry W. and Alfred A. Berg Collection, Sarton cautions 

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E.E. Cummings: To My Valentine

Copyright by the Trustees for the E. E. Cummings Trust.When Edward Estlin Cummings met Marion Morehouse in 1932, he was in the middle of a painful split from his second wife, Anne Barton. But loss soon gave way to what Cummings later described as "an ecstatic arrival." This was Marion.

Morehouse was tall and thin, of Choctaw Indian ancestry, with brown eyes and a narrow face like a Modigliani. Edward Steichen called her "the greatest fashion model [he] ever shot." Aside from Steichen, 

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Reading Edgar Allan Poe

In his essay “King Weirdo,” anthologized in the collection Now Dig This, the American humorist Terry Southern writes about his first encounter with Edgar Allan Poe’s only novel, The Narrative of A. Gordon Pym.

As a seventh grader in a Dallas junior high school, Southern is sent to the library for a two part assignment, “a bit of horror-show wretchedness called 'Getting to Know Your Public Library'" that also required 

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Paul Auster Papers in the Berg

The Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection has made the papers of Paul Auster, dating from the years 1999-2005, available to the public. This installment of Auster’s papers joins an existing collection already in the Berg, dating from 1963-1995, and a third installment, bridging the gap between the two collections, from 1995-1999. Guides to all the papers are now available to researchers at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building (researchers can also email us for a copy at

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Coleridge annotates Southey

Elif Batuman tells a story in her recently published The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them, about visiting Tolstoy's estate Yasnaya Polyana for a conference.   A visiting historian presenting at the conference is researching the marginalia in Tolstoy's personal library. Another scholar asks him about it one morning at breakfast. Oh, there aren't any words, he says. Tolstoy doesn't write in any of his books. But the pages. They fall open in certain ... Read More ›

Engaging the Text: Literary Marginalia in the Berg Collection

As Edmund Blunden's biographer tells it, the poets Edmund Blunden and Siegfried Sassoon sat down together on the night of November 7, 1929 to annotate a book. That book was Robert Graves’ memoir Goodbye to All That, and their notes were anything but laudatory.

Graves had published Goodbye to All That, an account of his early years and service in the first world war, to critical acclaim earlier that year.  Blunden and 

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Wilbur, the Translator

In Chapter 18 of Candide, our hero and his valet Cacambo arrive in the utopian kingdom of El Dorado, where the streets glitter with precious stones. The people of El Dorado speak Cacambo's mother tongue, a Peruvian dialect indecipherable to Candide, and Cacambo becomes the sole communicator and interpreter. Candide relies on his valet to communicate with the natives of this strange and beguiling country.

The travelers are invited to dine at the King's palace. The dinner proceeds merrily, led by their affable royal 

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A Burroughs Christmas Story

For many years, William S. Burroughs sent Otto Belue of Saint Louis, Missouri a Christmas card with a check in it. The cards arrived like clockwork, from London, Paris, New York…wherever Burroughs had landed at the time. Letters in the William S. Burroughs Collection of Papers sent by Belue in late December and early January during the sixties and early seventies to Burroughs offer interesting insight into one of Burroughs’s strongest ties from childhood.

Burroughs grew up in Saint Louis, Missouri, the 

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Newly Cataloged Richard Wilbur

Richard Wilbur published his first poem, "Puppies" in 1929 in the children's magazine John Martin’s Book at the age of 8. In the eighty years since, Wilbur, Poet Laureate from 1987-1988, has won the Pulitzer Prize twice and outlived more famous poet contemporaries like John Berryman, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath. These poets' Confessional style caught fire mid-century and signalled a departure from the measured poetry Wilbur was writing. A Wilbur poem foregoes the stormy revelations of the Confessionalists; more often it 

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Burroughs at the Berg

The Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection has posted the finding aid for the William S. Burroughs Papers. A guide to the papers can now be accessed here (pdf). 

The archive is a swirl of 1960s political, popular and literary culture, offering a close look at a cross-section of social revolutions that caught fire in the late fifties and sixties, including the rise of drugs, the gay liberation movement, free speech and the 

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Jack Kerouac, Fantasy Sportsman

Ever wonder what Jack Kerouac was doing at ages fourteen, fifteen and sixteen? Competing, for one. The author played on a neighborhood baseball team and was skilled enough in high school football that he was offered scholarships to play at both Boston University and at Columbia (he later accepted the New York school’s offer, a choice that ensured his path crossed with William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, and Neal Cassady, among others here).

As a teenager, Kerouac was also at work inventing his own fantasy field of dreams. In his free time, the young writer founded a 

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Desperately Seeking Alice

The plot of Linda Fairstein’s Lethal Legacy, set in the New York Public Library‘s Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, pivots on a copy of a rare 1866 edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. 1866 marks the year of the earliest approved edition of Lewis Carroll’s Alice, illustrated by Punch cartoonist John Tenniel. Copies of the 1866 edition in the New York Public Library are in the double digits. The Henry 

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The Queen of the Birds

Flannery O'Connor, who would have been 84 today, is best known for her dystopic portrayals of the South and Southerners in her novels Wise Blood, and The Violent Bear it Away, and in short stories like "

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