Contents and Arrangement Expanded View

Collection Overview

Creator:
Pizarnik, Alejandra, 1936-1972
Collector:
Princeton University. Library. Special Collections
Title:
Alejandra Pizarnik Papers
Repository:
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
http://arks.princeton.edu/ark:/88435/cv43nw83b
Dates:
1954-1972 (mostly 1960-1972)
Size:
10 boxes
Storage Note:
Firestone Library (mss): Box 1-10

Abstract

The Alejandra Pizarnik Papers consists of diaries, manuscripts, correspondence, drawings, and other papers of the Argentine poet Alejandra Pizarnik (1936-1972).

Collection Description & Creator Information

Description:

Consists primarily of writings in the form of diaries (1954-1972), notebooks (circa 1956- 1972), and poetry, fiction, and non-fiction manuscripts ([195?]-1972). The diaries contain some text manuscripts in addition to the typical diary entries, while the notebooks combine manuscripts, drawings, notes, and letters. The majority of the poetry, fiction, and non-fiction manuscripts are individually titled or identified by their first verse or line; but there are others grouped together as per Pizarnik's original order or in miscellaneous edited and unedited manuscript folders. The correspondence received by Pizarnik is not extensive, but includes many Latin American literary figures. There are also a few letters written by the poet to others, as well as a small selection of artwork by Pizarnik and others, printed material, and miscellanea.

Collection Creator Biography:

Alejandra Pizarnik, also known as Flora Alejandra, was born to Russian Jewish immigrant parents on April 29, 1936, in Avellaneda, Buenos Aires, Argentina. When she was 20, a year after entering the department of philosophy and letters at the Universidad de Buenos Aires, Pizarnik published her first book of poetry, La tierra más ajena (1955). Soon after, she left the university to study painting with Juan Batlle Planas. This graphic arts experience influenced Pizarnik's poetry; she was conscientious of the layout of words on the page almost like a drawing.1 Pizarnik followed her debut work with two more volumes of poems, La última inocencia (1956) and Las adventuras perdidas (1958).

From 1960 to 1964 Pizarnik lived a frugal but happy and productive existence in Paris. There she worked for the journal Cuadernos, sat on the editorial board of the magazine Les Lettres Nouvelles, and participated in the thriving Parisian literary world, meeting or befriending prominent French and Latin American writers. Pizarnik also attended a variety of courses at the Sorbonne, including contemporary French literature. The freedom and inspiration of Paris encouraged Pizarnik's own literary production. During this time she wrote Arból de Diana (1962, with a prologue by Octavio Paz), as well as published other poems in French and Latin American journals. Upon her return to Buenos Aires, Pizarnik published Los trabajos y las noches (1965), which primarily consisted of poems composed in Paris. This work went on to win both the Primer Premio Municipalidad de Buenos Aires and the Fondo Nacional de las Artes. On the merits of her writing, Pizarnik would later receive a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1969 and a Fulbright in 1971.

Extracción de la piedra de locura (1968, containing writing from 1962 to 1966) and El infierno musical (1971) have a different tone than her earlier poetry; they are primarily characterized by darkness and madness, two recurring themes in both Pizarnik's writing and life. La condesa sangrienta (1965), a work of prose loosely based on historic fact, takes these themes one step further. In this text and other writings from this period, Pizarnik explores her fascination with sadism, obscenity, and the grotesque. Other themes in Pizarnik's poetry include depression, alienation, and the difficulty of communication. These motifs combine to produce poems full of internal torment and near-palpable pain. Not surprisingly, she nurtured an obsession with suicide which would later become a self-fulfilling prophesy.

On September 25, 1972, Pizarnik died of an overdose of Seconal while at home for the weekend from a psychiatric clinic. Julio Cortázar, Olga Orozco, and others paid homage to the thirty-six year old with poems written in her honor. Even posthumously, Pizarnik's poetic voice continued to be heard through the release of collections of her previously unpublished writings.

Collection History

Acquisition:

The collection was chiefly purchased from the Pizarnik family.

Archival Appraisal Information:

No appraisal information is available.

Processing Information:

This collection was processed by Karla J. Vecchia in 2002 and in 2004. Finding aid written by Karla J. Vecchia in 2002 and in 2004.

Access & Use

Access Restrictions:

This collection is open for research.

Conditions for Reproduction and Use:

No photocopying, photography, or microfilming of the diaries or notebooks is permitted. Written permission is required for publication of selections from the diaries and notebooks. Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. No further photoduplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to RBSC Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.

Credit this material:

Alejandra Pizarnik Papers; Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
http://arks.princeton.edu/ark:/88435/cv43nw83b
Location:
Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184

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Publication Note:

Some of the diaries, manuscripts, and notes found in the collection came to print in the following publications: Las aventuras perdidas (Buenos Aires: Altamar, 1958); Alejandra Pizarnik: A Profile, edited and with introduction by Frank Graziano, translated by María Rosa Fort and Frank Graziano, and additional translations by Suzanne Jill Levine (Durango, Colo.: Logbridge-Rhodes, 1987) [reproductions of selected manuscripts]; Arból de Diana (Buenos Aires: Sur, 1962); La condesa sangrienta (Buenos Aires: Aquarius Libros, 1971); Correspondencia Pizarnik (Buenos Aires: Seix Barral, 1998); Extracción de la piedra de locura (Buenos Aires: Editorial Sudamericana, 1968); El infierno musical (Buenos Aires: Siglo Veintiuno Argentina Editores, 1971); Poesía (1955-1972), edited by Ana Becciú (Barcelona: Lumen, 2001); Textos de sombra y últimos poemas (Buenos Aires: Editorial Sudamericana, 1982); La tierra más ajena (Buenos Aires: Ediciones Botella al Mar, 1955); Los trabajos y las noches (Buenos Aires: Sudamericana, 1965); La última inocencia (Buenos Aires: Ediciones Poesía, 1956); and Zona prohibida: Poemas y dibujos (Veracruz: Ed. Papel de Envolver, 1982).

Francisco Robles Ortega. Literature hispanoamericana. Internet version. August 2002. http://sololiteratura.com/index.htm was consulted during preparation of biographical note.

Subject Terms:
Argentine literature -- 20th century.
Argentine poetry -- 20th century.
Poets, Argentine -- 20th century -- Diaries.
Poets, Argentine -- 20th century -- Manuscripts.
Poets, Argentine -- 20th century -- Notebooks, sketchbooks, etc.
Genre Terms:
Diaries.
Drawings.
Manuscripts.
Notebooks.