Contents and Arrangement

Series 2: Notebooks, 1945-1995

7 boxes

Collection Overview

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

This series consists of 29 notebooks in which Donoso recorded themes, characters, references to other writers, miscellaneous notes, and other information about his literary production. This series is organized by notebook number, which was determined by the chronological order.


The following guides to José Donoso's Notebooks are intended as an aid in the search for material which might interest the reader. Obviously they are not a substitute for the reading of the notebooks themselves since they are both selective, and in spite of all the efforts made to prevent it, subjective. Hence the need to explain the method followed in their compilation. The reader should keep in mind that a project of this nature is not free from practical and intellectual limitations so that in order to overcome them, his own efforts are essential.

The dates, locations, numbers, and pagination of the notebooks belong to the author himself. When internal contradictions in dating arise, brackets are used as in the case of any other uncertainty to indicate them. Although the notebooks contain more pages than those actually numbered, the number of pages takes into account only the latter. All references to page numbers adhere to the author's pagination, except when a given page number is repeated. In such cases, a letter has been added to the page number in order to distinguish the different pages.

The initial synopses generally indicate the main projects with which a given notebook is concerned, the nature of these concerns, and the stages of the project under preparation. All references to these stages pertain to the notebooks themselves, not to the author's published work. No attempt has been made to indicate revisions concerning plot details or chapter divisions from the perspective of the published work. The collation of the notebooks and the several typescripts available is another task, which notwithstanding the many cross-references, remains to be done.

The list of themes includes only those mentioned by the author, and the terminology used to designate the different themes, even though awkward at times, is as close as possible to the one used by him.

The list of characters enumerates the characters related to the main project under preparation. The c haracter sketches section isolates the instances in which a character is discussed explicitly or in detail. Because of the Jamesian interpenetration of character and action, characterization is not limited to such instances; it is inseparable from plot discussion.

The inventory of the cultural references made by the author to any fields of creative endeavor includes, in general, only references made from an artistic rather than a personal point of view (friends, acquaintances, etc.). Names rather than titles of works are given, even if this is not always the case in notebooks. When the notebook only mentions a surname, the identity of the person in question has been determined by the context in which the mention occurs. When such determination is uncertain, only the surname is listed. Uncertainties regarding the references themselves are denoted by brackets.

The secondary projects mentioned either in passing or in detailed notes are listed separately, with a brief description. A special format has been used with regard to the notebooks in which several main projects are discussed.

Other items of interest have been grouped as miscellaneous. Although this is an openended and eminently subjective section, it strives to take into account a series of recurring concerns.

The notebooks afford the reader a vision of José Donoso's creative processes from several perspectives, literary, biographical, and sociological. Primarily, they serve the purpose of capturing and refining the author's ideas before and after the actual composition of the drafts and thus reveal an important facet of his working method. They may also illuminate certain problematic passages of his published works. The abundant allusions to other works, and the occasional critical comments about them, give an indication of the breath of the author's cultural background.

The literary concerns are set in the personal context of a self-testimony intended as a portrait of the man and the artist. On this account, the notebooks also record the author's material circumstances and his private thoughts and feelings.

The problems and advantages created by exile, the social environment of a group of exiled Latin-American writers, and, sometimes the author's reactions to certain political events are also important aspects to his notebooks.

What follows is the description of Notebooks 34-47; Notebooks before 34 are at the University of Iowa.


Arranged by no. of notebook.

Collection History

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:

Series 2: Notebooks; José Donoso Papers, C0099, Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Firestone Library
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Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (mss): Box 55-61

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Related Materials

See also the José Donoso Papers at the University of Iowa ( http,//