Special Collections Department
Arthur Mizener Papers
Manuscript Collection Number: 172
Extent: ca. 141 items (.5 linear feet)
Contents: Manuscript and correspondence.
Access: The collection is open for research.
Processed: 1996 by Julie Witsken.
Special Collections, University of Delaware Library
Newark, Delaware 19717-5267
Table of Contents
Over the next sixteen years, Mizener taught at Yale University; Wells College in Aurora, New York; and Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, where he was the chairman of the English Department. In 1951, Mizener accepted a position as Mellon Foundation Professor of English at Cornell University and remained there until his retirement in 1975.
Mizener is best known as the author of the first F. Scott Fitzgerald biography, The Far Side of Paradise, which was published in 1951. The best-selling biography was praised for its frank portrayal of Fitzgerald's alcoholism and his wife Zelda's insanity as well as for its psychological insights into their lives. It was also credited with renewing interest in Fitzgerald and advancing Fitzgerald's reputation as a major American author. Twenty years later, Mizener published a biography of Ford Madox Ford, the British novelist and founding editor of Transatlantic Review and Two Worlds. In addition, Mizener published several other works, among them The Sense of Life in the Modern Novel and A Handbook of Analyses, Questions, and a Discussion of Technique for Use with Modern Short Stories: The Uses of Imagination; edited various other works, including a collection of Fitzgerald's miscellaneous writings; and wrote numerous essays and book reviews. He died in 1988 at the age of 80.
Sources:Engar, Ann. "Arthur Mizener." Dictionary of Literary Biography; American Literary Biographers. Ed. Steven Serafin. Volume 103. Detroit: Gale Research Inc., 1991. pp. 184-191.
Scope and Content Note
The first series contains the draft of The Far Side of Paradise annotated with comments and corrections by Edmund Wilson. Considered one of the foremost literary and social critics of his time, Wilson (1895-1972) began his career as a reporter before becoming editor of Vanity Fair and later New Republic. He was also book reviewer for The New Yorker, a prolific writer, and recipient of such awards as the Aspen award and the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1961), the highest award granted a civilian. Like Mizener, Wilson attended Princeton University for his undergraduate degree, which he received in 1916. At Princeton, Wilson served on the staff of the Nassau Literary Magazine, for which he encouraged friend and fellow student F. Scott Fitzgerald to write. Thus began Fitzgerald's literary career and Wilson's enduring influence on it. Wilson's comments on the draft of the Fitzgerald biography provide not only the insight of an astute critic, but also the advice of a friend concerned with the nature and veracity of Mizener's representation of Fitzgerald.
Series II contains Mizener's correspondence. The letters are arranged by correspondent, though it is useful to examine them in relation to other letters written within the same time frame. The first group of letters (Folders 8-11) are mostly from Wilson to Mizener, though some of Mizener's responses are included, as are a few later letters from Wilson's widow to Mizener. In the earlier letters (Folder 8), Wilson advises and corrects Mizener on points concerning the bibliography (published in 1944), which Mizener is compiling of Wilson. Later letters (Folder 9) discuss characters Wilson is developing in his works; relate anecdotes, memories, and other personal information about Fitzgerald; and offer criticism on Mizener's draft of the Fitzgerald biography. In all of the letters, Wilson's unique character emerges, as does evidence of the developing friendship between Wilson and Mizener. Mizener's letter to Elena Wilson, Edmund's widow (Folder 11), Elena's own letters, and that of Mizener's acquaintance, Wallace Ruckert, likewise offer insight into the well-known critic's character.
The second group of letters (Folder 12) consists of correspondence between Mizener and his wife Rosemary, and Delmore Schwartz and his wife Gertrude, from whom Schwartz later separated. Schwartz (1913-1966), a poet and short-story writer, also held several editorial positions, including one at the Partisan Review. The letters include invitations from Schwartz to Mizener to publish parts of his Fitzgerald biography in the Partisan Review, evidence of a conflict with The Atlantic over publishing rights, and general information concerning the politics of getting published. The politics of the Guggenheim circle ( Schwartz was the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship), prospects for a poet trying to eke out a living in the mid-1900s, women's push to work full-time, and men's reaction to growing female independence are also discussed.
The third group of letters (Folder 13) are mostly responses to Mizener's solicitations to publishers and librarians, notably Julian Boyd of the Princeton University Library, for information relating to his bibliographic work on Wilson. In one letter, Boyd enclosed a letter from H. L. Mencken. There are also letters regarding a dispute over the publication of the Fitzgerald biography and a letter offering both praise and insightful criticism of one of Mizener's articles on Fitzgerald.
I. The Far Side of Paradise II. Correspondence A. Edmund Wilson B. Delmore Schwartz C. Related to publishing
Box -- Folder -- Contents
1 I. The Far Side of Paradise [n.d.] Typed draft of The Far Side of Paradise (published in 1951). Annotated with autograph corrections and comments by Edmund Wilson. Also includes cancelled pages. F1 Chapters I-IV pp. i-v, 1-96 F2 Chapters V-IX pp. 97-226 F3 Chapters X-XIII pp. 227-344 F4 Chapters XIV-XVII pp. 345-445 F5 Chapter XVIII and Appendices pp. 446-467 and 12 pp of Appendices F6 Notes and References (66 pp) F7 Cancelled pages (19 pp) II. Correspondence A. Edmund Wilson, 1943-1977. Primarily correspondence from Edmund Wilson. Also includes eight letters from Mizener, a postcard from Wilson to Nabokov, letters from Elena Wilson after her husband's death, and a letter from Wallace Ruckert. F8 EW to AM, 1943-1944 1943 July 7 TLS 2p July 16 ALS 2p July 19 ACS 1p July 20 ALS 2p July 30 ALS 1p August 4 ALS 1p August 11 ALS 1p August 18 ACS 1p [August 23] ANS 1p August 24 TLS 1p September 10 ALS 2p September 20 ACS 1p September 28 TLS 1p October 14 ALS 2p October 22 TLS 1p 1 II. Correspondence (cont'd) A. Edmund Wilson, 1943-1977 (cont'd) F8 EW to AM, 1943-1944 (cont'd) 1943 November 9 TLS 1p December 11 TLS 1p [December 23] ANS 1p 1944 May 16 ALS 2p May 22 ALS 2p May 28 ACS 1p June 6 ALS 1p October 12 ALS 1p December 20 ALS 1p F9 EW to AM, 1945-1948 Includes two letters from Mizener to Wilson. 1945 January 23 ALS 1p November 14 ALS 1p 1946 January 7 ALS 1p July 31 ALS 1p November 1 ALS 4p 1947 July 24 ALS 2p August 27 TLS 1p 1948 March 22 TL 1p (Mizener to Wilson) March 30 ALS 3p April 12 TL 2p (Mizener to Wilson) May 11 ALS 1p December 13 ALS 1p F10 EW to AM, 1949-1951, 1953, 1959 Includes six letters from AM to EW and one postcard from EW to Nabokov. 1949 January 7 TLS 1p March 23 ALS 1p enclosure: TLS from Roger Butterfield October 3 ALS 2p October 10 TL 1p (Mizener to Wilson) October 14 ALS 1p 1 II. Correspondence (cont'd) A. Edmund Wilson, 1943-1977 (cont'd) F10 EW to AM, 1949-1951, 1953, 1959 (cont'd) 1949 November 11 TLS 4p December 27 ALS 2p 1950 January 3 TL 1p (Mizener to Wilson) January 6 ALS 1p January 13 ALS 2p January 27 TLS 1p February 22 TLS 5p with autograph notes March 3 TLS 1p April 4 TLS 2p with autograph notes [April 21] ANS 1p enclosure: galley for review of The Irreverent Mr. Mencken July 21 TL 2p (Mizener to Wilson) July 28 ALS 1p December 24 ALS 1p 1951 January 3 TL 1p (Mizener to Wilson) January 9 ALS 1p January 13 TL 1p (Mizener to Wilson) 1953 December 3 ACS 1p (Wilson to Nabokov) 1959 February 1 ALS 2p [n.d.] TL 1p (Mizener to Wilson) F11 Elena Wilson to AM, unless otherwise indicated. 1976 September 12 TLS 1p October 1 TLS 1p 1977 January 25 TLS 1p (Wallace Ruckert to Mizener) 1 II. Correspondence (cont'd) B. Delmore Schwartz, 1940-1960 Primarily correspondence from Delmore Schwartz to Mizener. Also includes five letters from Delmore's wife Gertrude, three letters from Mizener, and a telegram. F12 Delmore Schwartz, 1940-1960 1940 January 9 TLS 1p enclosure: ALS from Gertrude Schwartz January 17 ALS 2p February 22 TLS 2p (Gertrude Schwartz to Rosemary Mizener) March 5 TLS 2p (Gertrude Schwartz to Rosemary and Arthur Mizener) March 7 ALS 2p April 2 TLS 1p May 7 TLS 1p May 8 TL 1p (Mizener to Schwartz) [August 29] ALS 3p (Gertrude Schwartz to Rosemary Mizener) 1941 [April 5] ALS 2p (Gertrude Schwartz to Rosemary and Arthur Mizener) September 18 ALS 2p 1943 September 22 TLS 1p October 16 TLS 1p November 16 ALS 2p 1944 March 18 ALS 2p envelope has autograph notations November 13 ALS 1p 1946 April 20 TLS 1p 1949 October 2 ALS 1p October 4 TL 1p (Mizener to Schwartz) October 11 ACS 1p November 30 telegram 1p December 5 ALS 1p 1950 August 21 ALS 1p August 28 TL 1p (Mizener to Schwartz) August 31 ALS 2p 1953 April 8 TCS 1p December 30 ALS 2p 1 II. Correspondence (cont'd) B. Delmore Schwartz, 1940-1960 (cont'd) F12 Delmore Schwartz, 1940-1960 (cont'd) 1954 June 15 ALS 2p October 27 TLS 1p 1960 January 27 ALS 2p C. Related to publishing F13 Publishing, 1943-1950 45 items Primarily letters from publishers and librarians regarding Mizener's research for a Wilson bibliography and the publication of his F. Scott Fitzgerald biography, The Far Side of Paradise. Also contains letters from Mizener as well as a letter from H. L. Mencken to Edmund Wilson, which was enclosed in correspondence from Julian Boyd, Princeton University librarian.
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