Contents and Arrangement Expanded View

Collection Overview

Pizarnik, Alejandra, 1936-1972
Alejandra Pizarnik Papers
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
1954-1972 (mostly 1960-1972)
10 boxes
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Box 1-10


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

Scope and Contents

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:

Pizarnik, Alejandra, 1936-1972

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


The collection was chiefly purchased from the Pizarnik family.


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

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing 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 copies of other materials in the collection 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:

Alejandra Pizarnik 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 1-10

Find More


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. 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: