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Collection Overview

Cortázar, Julio
Julio Cortázar Papers
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
5 boxes and 1.9 linear feet
Storage Note:
Firestone Library (mss): Box 1-5


The Julio Cortázar Papers consists of the manuscripts, notes, and notebooks of the Argentine novelist and short story writer Julio Cortázar (1914-1984). These papers primarily contain unpublished prose and poetry, as well as some manuscripts of published materials. Though Cortázar is not generally thought of as a poet, poetry is heavily represented in the collection, including a notebook of poems he wrote at the age of 12 (1927). There are also Spanish translations of some of Jean Cocteau's poetry, and lecture notes from two courses that Cortázar taught. Furthermore, the papers contain a small selection of quotations collected from the work of others, and notebooks that include an assortment of prose, poetry, and notes.

Collection Description & Creator Information


The collection consists primarily of Cortázar's prose and poetry manuscripts, with the poetry constituting the largest portion of the collection and some of his very early writings as evidenced by the notebook written at the age of 12 (1927). The prose includes both fiction and non-fiction writings, Spanish translations of Jean Cocteau's poetry (1947?) and lecture notes from two courses, one at Universidad de Cuyo, Mendoza, Argentina (1945), and the other at University of California, Berkeley (1980). These papers reflect Cortázar's multilingualism; for example, the title is not always indicative of the content language. While most of the manuscripts are unpublished, there exist several works (complete unless otherwise indicated) that were published, such as Adiós, Robinson y otras piezas breves (1995) [two short plays], Los autonautas de la cosmopista: O, un viaje atemporal París- Marsella (1983), Diario de Andrés Fava (1995), El examen (1986), Pameos y meopas (1971) [selected poems], Rayuela (1963) [notes and short manuscript excerpts], and Teoría del túnel (1947).

Futhermore, the papers contain a small selection of quotations that Cortázar collected from the works of others; notebooks that include an assortment of prose, poetry and notes; and a small selection of correspondence.

The majority of material in this collection is undated. Unless otherwise indicated, all manuscripts described in the contents list are one page in length.

Collection Creator Biography:

Cortázar, Julio

Julio Cortázar was born on August 26, 1914, in Brussels, Belgium, where his Argentine parents, Julio José Cortázar and María Herminia Descotte de Cortázar, were on a business trip. Once World War I began, the family was forced to remain in Europe for several years. Finally in 1918 they returned to Argentina and settled in a suburb of Buenos Aires. Cortázar's father left the family soon afterwards, and Julio and his sister were raised by their mother and aunt.

Starting at a young age, Cortázar demonstrated both a love of and aptitude for literature and received nurturing and guidance in his writing from his teachers. Cortázar received primary (1932) and secondary (1935) teaching degrees, but due to economic reasons, he was forced to cut short his studies at Universidad de Buenos Aires and begin teaching in the remote provincial towns of Bolívar and Chivilcoy. From 1944 to 1945 Cortázar taught French literature at Universidad de Cuyo, Mendoza, but in 1946 he resigned as a result of his political views and his anti-Perón demonstrations.

Back in Buenos Aires, Cortázar worked for the publishing group Cámara Argentina del Libro (1946-1948), completed a translation degree in record time, and worked as a public translator (1948-1951). During these years his short stories "Casa tomada" and "Lejana" appeared in Jorge Luis Borges' literary magazine Los Anales de Buenos Aires, and he published a theoretical work, Teoría del túnel (1947). The novel El examen, written in 1950, was initially rejected by the publisher and only released posthumously in 1986. In 1951 Cortázar published the short story collection Bestiario and began his voluntary exile from Argentina by moving to Paris. In the French capital Cortázar quickly became a translator for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), a position he would hold for the rest of his life.

On August 23, 1953, Cortázar married fellow Argentine translator Aurora Bernárdez. Although they divorced after twenty years, the two remained close friends. His second marriage was to Canadian writer Carol Dunlop with whom he collaborated on Los autonautas de la cosmopista: O, un viaje atemporal París-Marsella (1983), a surrealistic account of their month-long journey on the French highway.

Cortázar belonged to the "boom" generation of Latin American writers who broke new ground with their work during the 1950s and 1960s. He is perhaps most well known for the highly experimental novel Rayuela (1963) and the socio-politically based Libro de Manuel (1973). His literary production included other novels—Los premios [1960], 62: Modelo para armar [1968] and Un tal Lucas [1979]), poetry (Los reyes [1949], Pameos y meopas [1971], and Salvo el crepúsculo [1984]) and essays ( La casilla de los Morelli [1973], Argentina: Años de almabradas culturales [1984] and Nicaragua: Tan violentamente dulce [1983]—but predominately consisted of short stories: Final del juego [1950], Las armas secretas [1959], Historias del cronopios y de famas [1962], Todos los fuegos el fuego [1966], Alguien que anda por ahí y otros relatos [1977], and Queremos tanto a Glenda [1980].

Cortázar was also a frequent traveler and advocate of human rights. He was particularly concerned about the torture of political prisoners and the repressive rule of dictators in Latin America. A socialist, he supported both the Cuban and Nicaraguan revolutions. Cortázar promoted his views through speaking engagements and political essays. He also made several trips to the United States and participated in conferences at University of California, Berkeley (1980).

Cortázar died of leukemia and heart disease on February 12, 1984. He was buried in Montparnassee Cemetery alongside Carol Dunlop.

Collection History


This collection was purchased from the author's former wife in 2001.


No appraisal information is available.

Processing Information

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

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

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:

Julio Cortázar 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 (mss): Box 1-5

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Related Materials

Some of the manuscripts and notes found in draft form in the collection came to print in the following publications: Adiós, Robinson y otras piezas breves (Buenos Aires: Alfaguara, 1995), Los autonautas de la cosmopista: O, un viaje atemporal París-Marsella (Buenos Aires: Muchnik, 1983), Diario de Andrés Fava (Buenos Aires: Alfaguara, 1995), El examen (Buenos Aires: Editorial Sudamericana, Sudamericana/Planeta, 1986), Pameos y meopas (Barcelona: OCNOS, Editorial Llibres de Sinera, 1971), Rayuela (Buenos Aires: Editorial Sudamericana, 1963) and Teoría del túnel (1947).

Subject Terms:
Exiles' writings, Argentine—France—Paris—20th century
French poetry—20th century—Translations into Spanish
Latin American fiction—20th century
Latin American literature—20th century
Latin American poetry—20th century
Lectures and lecturing—20th century
Novelists, Argentine—20th century—Correspondence
Novelists, Argentine—20th century—Manuscripts
Novelists, Argentine—20th century—Notebooks, sketchbooks, etc.
Poets, Argentine—20th century—Manuscripts
Poets, Argentine—20th century—Notebooks, sketchbooks, etc.
Genre Terms:
Cocteau, Jean, 1889-1963—Translations into Spanish