Contents and Arrangement Expanded View

Collection Overview

Donoso, José, 1924-1996.
José Donoso Papers
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
1924-1996 (mostly 1970-1990)
88 boxes and 33.5 linear feet
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Box 1-88
Spanish; Castilian


The José Donoso Papers consists of writings, notebooks, correspondence, and other miscellanea of the Chilean writer José Donoso (1924-1996).

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of personal papers of Donoso, the man and the writer. Included are typescript drafts of several of his major works, Este domingo, El obsceno pájaro de la noche, Historia personal del "boom", " Tres novelitas burguesas, Casa de campo, and La desesperanza; correspondence from family members, publishers, and literary friends, such as Latin American writers Carlos Fuentes, Ernesto Sábato, Gustavo Sainz, Mario Vargas Llosa, and Gabriel García Márquez, Donoso's literary agent Carmen Balcells, and filmmaker Luis Buñuel; manuscripts of short stories, articles, speeches and lectures, plays and screenplays; and material about Donoso, such as interviews, essays, newspaper clippings, and a filmscript on his life.

Also included are Donoso's notebooks, numbered 34-50 and 52-64, covering (with gaps) the period from 7 January 1966 to 25 August 1978. They afford the reader several perspectives of Donoso's creative life—literary, biographical, and sociological—capturing and refining the author's ideas before and after the actual composition of the drafts, providing allusions to other works and occasional critical comments, and illuminating the problems and advantages created by exile, the social environment of exiled Latin American writers, and, sometimes, the author's reactions to certain political events.

Furthermore, there is a small selection of miscellaneous material, including awards, photographs, contracts and correspondence of his wife, María Pilar Serrano.


The collection has been organized into the following open-ended series in order to accommodate additional papers in the future,

Collection Creator Biography:

Donoso, José, 1924-1996.

José Donoso, born in Santiago de Chile, October 5, 1924, completed high school at The Grange English preparatory school and studied liberal arts at the Instituto Pedagógico of the University of Chile. He attended Princeton University, majoring in English, and received his A.B. degree in 1951. Upon returning to Chile he taught English Literature for several years at the Universidad Católica and in private schools in Santiago. Later he joined the staff of the weekly magazine Ercilla to write several sections including Literature, Theatre, and Painting. He stayed with Ercilla for six years. Meanwhile he received an appointment as Professor of Creative Writing in the School of Journalism of the University of Chile and later received the Chile-Italia prize for Journalism, which brought him to Italy for about six months as a guest of the Ente Turismo. From 1965-67 he was Visiting Professor at the Writers Workshop, University of Iowa, Iowa City, teaching Creative Writing under Paul Engle. In 1967, he left the United States for Spain, where he resided until his return to Santiago, Chile in 1980. In 1969, he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, followed by a second in 1974. In 1975 he taught Creative Writing for one semester at Princeton and another semester at Dartmouth. He died of cancer in Santiago, Chile, December 7, 1996.

Major Published Works

Coronación (Santiago de Chile, Zig-Zag, 1957)

Coronation, translated by Jocasta Goodwin (New York, Knopf, 1965)

Este domingo (Santiago de Chile, Zig-Zag, 1965)

This Sunday, translated by Lorraine Freeman (New York, Knopf, 1967)

El lugar sin límites (Mexico, Joaquín Mortiz, 1966)

Hell Has No Limits in Triple Cross, translated by Suzanne Jill Levine and Hallie D. Taylor (New York, Dutton, 1972)

Los mejores cuentos de José Donoso, Introducción y nota bibliográfica de Luis Domínguez (Santiago de Chile, Zig-Zag, 1965-1966)

El obsceno pájaro de la noche (Barcelona, Seix Barral, 1970)

The Obscene Bird of Night, translated by Hardie St. Martin and Leonard Mades (New York, Knopf, 1973)

Tres novelitas burguesas (Barcelona, Seix Barral, 1973)

Sacred Families, Three Novellas, translated by Andrée Conrad (New York, Knopf, 1977)

El Charleston, Cuentos (Santiago de Chile, Nascimento, 1977)

Charleston and Other Stories, translated by Andrée Conrad (Boston, D. R. Godine, 1977)

Historia personal del "boom" (Barcelona, Anagrama, 1972)

The Boom in Spanish American Literature, A Personal History, translated by Gregory Kolovakos (New York, Columbia University Press in association with the Center for Inter-American Relations, 1977)

Casa de campo (Barcelona, Seix Barral, 1978)

A House in the Country, translated by David Pritchard and Suzanne Jill Levine (London, Allen Lane, 1984)

La misteriosa desaparición de la Marquesita de Loria (Barcelona, Seix Barral, 1980)

El jardín de al lado (Barcelona, Seix Barral, 1981)

Poemas de un novelista (Santiago de Chile, Ganymedes, 1981)

Cuatro para Delfina (Barcelona, Seix Barral, 1982)

La desesperanza (Barcelona, Seix Barral, 1986)

Curfew, translated by Alfred MacAdam (New York, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1988)

Taratuta. Naturaleza muerta con cachimba (Santiago de Chile, Grijalbo, 1990)

Lagartija sin cola (Santiago de Chile, Aguilar Chilena de Ediciones S.A., 2007)

Collection History


The José Donoso Papers held by Princeton University Library, Manuscript Division, was started in 1972 with a gift from the author; this has been augmented with subsequent gifts and purchases from Donoso and other sources.

Custodial History

The collection was formed as a result of a departmental practice of combining into one collection manuscript material of various accessions relating to a particular author.


No appraisal information is available.

Processing Information

The core of this collection was processed by Rodolfo Aiello in 1993. Finding aid written by Rodolfo Aiello in 1994 and later updated by Karla Vecchia in 2004.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. To cite or publish quotations that fall within Fair Use, as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission is required. For instances beyond Fair Use, it is the responsibility of the researcher to determine whether any permissions related to copyright, privacy, publicity, or any other rights are necessary for their intended use of the Library's materials, and to obtain all required permissions from any existing rights holders, if they have not already done so. Princeton University Library's Special Collections does not charge any permission or use fees for the publication of images of materials from our collections, nor does it require researchers to obtain its permission for said use. The department does request that its collections be properly cited and images credited. More detailed information can be found on the Copyright, Credit and Citations Guidelines page on our website. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us through the Ask Us! form.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

Credit this material:

José Donoso Papers; Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Box 1-88