Special Collections Department
The Irving Rosenthal Papers
Manuscript Collection Number: 337
Accessioned: Purchase, May 1995
Extent: .4 linear feet (35 items)
Content: Correspondence and manuscripts
Access: The collection is open for research.
Processed: February 1997 by Julie Witsken; revised December 2001.
Special Collections, University of Delaware Library
Newark, Delaware 19717-5267
Table of Contents
Before writing Sheeper, Rosenthal edited the Chicago Review. He was responsible for publishing the first chapters ever offered of William Burroughs' Naked Lunch, which he edited with Allen Ginsberg. When the Chicago Review issue containing those chapters was censored, Rosenthal left the Chicago Review and founded Big Table. He stayed long enough to publish the censored issue; he then left Big Table to Paul Carroll's control and moved to Morocco in 1963.
In Morocco, Rosenthal became involved with a Moroccan named Mohammed ben Abdullah Yussufi, who was later killed by Moroccan police. Deeply affected by the loss of his friend, Rosenthal began writing Sheeper. He hoped that his novel would reveal the true cause of Mohammed's death and serve as a memorial to him. Rosenthal remained in Morocco for at least a year, during which time he pored over the manuscript for the novel and maintained steady correspondence with American editor, poet, and filmmaker Ira Cohen. At first under Cohen's direction, parts of the novel began to be published in small magazines in the United States and abroad. The entire novel was published by Grove Press in 1967.
From Morocco, Rosenthal went to Athens before returning to New York in 1964.
Biographical information is derived from the collection.
Scope and Content Note
The letters, most of which were written from Morocco, provide valuable insight into the influences that shaped Rosenthal's Sheeper. Rosenthal wrote Sheeper to tell the world how his friend Mohammed ben Abdullah Yussufi was killed by the Moroccan police. Rosenthal's relationship with Mohammed, Rosenthal's own experiences of being falsely arrested and imprisoned by the Moroccan police, Moroccan customs and culture, and other aspects of Rosenthal's personal life are discussed as well. In the letters Rosenthal also gives direction to Cohen regarding his editorial practices and the publication of Sheeper; makes frequent requests for provisions and money; and talks about the Beat culture. Rosenthal mentions several Beats, such as Allen Ginsberg, whose language style he claims had become "popular currency."
Manuscripts of Sheeper are contained in Folders 3 and 4. Folder 3 contains a photocopy typescript of pages 1 to 270, with some typescript pages interspersed. Folder 4 contains the carbon typescript of pages 82 to 281. Both typescripts have autograph corrections.
The Sheeper manuscripts show a work differing from the published version of the novel. Two chapters of the manuscript appear to have been deleted from the published version, and chapters on Allen Ginsberg show extensive changes.
The collection also includes a typescript of the short story Pastiche of the Golden Flower with autograph corrections (F2) and two versions of Rosenthal's translation of Mohammed ben Abdullah Yussufi's The First Yarmulkas (F5). The first version is typescript with autograph corrections, and the second is the corrected typescript.
1 Series 1. Correspondence, 1963-1967 All letters are from Rosenthal to Ira Cohen unless otherwise noted. F1 1963 Jan 10 ALS 3p 1964 Jan 15 ALS 4p Jan 16 ALS 3p Jan 23 ALS 2p Feb 4 ALS 7p Feb 29 ALS 2p May 4 TLS 2p with autograph notes May 12 ALS 1p Jun 12 TLS 1p to Dwight N. Mason Jun 26 ACS 1p Jul 20 TLS 2p with autograph notes Aug 28 ALS 1p Sep 3 ALS 1p Sep 22 ALS 1p Oct 5 ALS 1p Nov 16 TLS 1p with autograph notes Nov 22 ALS 1p Dec 26 TLS 1p with autograph notes 1965 Jan 18 ALS 2p Jan 29 TLS 1p  Apr 19 ALS 1p with Peter Birnbaum May 6 ALS 1p Jul 9 TLS 1p Aug 20 TLS 1p Sep 19 TLS 1p with autograph notes 1967 Jan 19 ALS 1p n.d. TLS 2p ALS 1p ALS 1p recipient unidentified ACS 1p to Peter Birnbaum
Series II. Manuscripts Series II.1 Works by Rosenthal F2 Pastiche of the Golden Flower Typescript. (3 pages) F3 Sheeper Photocopy typescript of pages 1 to 270, with some typescript carbon pages.
With autograph corrections. (270 pages) F4 Sheeper Carbon typescript of pages 82 to 281. With autograph corrections.
(100 pages) Series II.2. Translations by Rosenthal F5 The First Yarmulkas Written by Mohammed ben Abdullah Yussufi and translated by Rosenthal.
One typescript with autograph corrections, and one corrected typescript. (3 pages)
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