University of Delaware Library

Special Collections Department

Arthur Mizener Papers

1940 - 1977
(bulk dates 1943 - 1951)

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.

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Table of Contents

Biographical Note

American educator, author, and critic Arthur Mizener was born in Erie, Pennsylvania, on 3 September 1907 to Mason Price and Mabel Moore Mizener. He attended Princeton University for his undergraduate degree, received his master's degree in English from Harvard University in 1932, and returned to Princeton to receive his doctorate in 1934. In 1935 he married Rosemary Paris, who shared his love of letters.

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.


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 Arthur Mizener papers, spanning the dates 1943 to 1976 (bulk 1943-1951), consist of the American educator, author, and critic's draft of the first F. Scott Fitzgerald biography, The Far Side of Paradise, and correspondence with Edmund Wilson, Delmore Schwartz, and various publishers and others involved in Mizener's research and publishing activities.

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.

Series Outline

I.   The Far Side of Paradise

II.  Correspondence

     A.   Edmund Wilson

     B.   Delmore Schwartz

     C.   Related to publishing 

Contents List

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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