Recordings from the Lee Anderson Papers (YCAL MSS 402) are now available on the digital audio archive PennSound. The PennSound-Lee Anderson collection currently includes readings by poets Robert Duncan (http://writing.upenn.edu/pennsound/x/Duncan.php#Lee-Anderson), Stanley Burnshaw (http://writing.upenn.edu/pennsound/x/Burnshaw.php), and Muriel Rukeyser (Muriel Rukeyser at PennSound). These newly-restored and digitized recordings are made available as part of the Yale Collection of American Literature’s ongoing collaboration with PennSound to make sound recordings in the Lee Anderson Papers (YCAL MSS 402) available online.
For more information visit the following sites: the Lee Anderson Papers (YCAL MSS 402): http://hdl.handle.net/10079/fa/beinecke.andersonl; about PennSound: http://writing.upenn.edu/pennsound/; http://writing.upenn.edu/pennsound/about.php.
Image: Photograph of Max Ewing reading (Uncat ZA MS 545)
Yale Establishes Literature Prizes
to Implement Extraordinary Legacy
of Novelist and Memoirist Donald Windham
New Haven, Conn. June 21, 2011 — Yale University President Richard C. Levin today announced the establishment of The Donald Windham – Sandy M. Campbell Literature Prizes. The prizes, which will be administered by Yale, are funded by a significant bequest from noted American writer Donald Windham, who died on May 31, 2010 at the age of 89. In his will, Windham also donated the remainder of his literary estate to Yale, completing a collection that was initiated with his original gift to Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library in 1989.
The prize program will award seven to nine $150,000 prizes annually, in fiction and non-fiction categories. In addition to the prestige the prizes will bestow on recipients, Windham wished to ensure that the prizes would be substantial enough to enable each recipient to spend a full year writing, unencumbered by financial concerns.
In making the announcement, Levin said, “It is our hope and expectation that the prizes, together with the collection of the author’s papers that are already a treasured part of Yale’s Beinecke Library holdings, will draw deserved attention to Donald Windham’s literary accomplishments and preserve them for years to come.”
Born in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1920, Windham spent most of his adult life in New York and his fiction works and memoirs are noted for their portraits of mid-20th century literary and artistic life in the city. He counted among his close friends Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote and other such noted figures as Lincoln Kirstein, a founder of the New York City ballet, photographer George Platt Lynes, writer E.M. Forster, and the artists Joseph Cornell and Paul Cadmus. With the young Tennessee Williams he collaborated in writing the play “You Touched Me,” based on a D.H. Lawrence short story, which opened on Broadway in 1945.
Windham’s first novel, “The Dog Star,” published in 1950, was considered by Thomas Mann the finest American novel of 1950. E.M. Forster was so impressed with his work that he asked to write the introduction to Windham’s short-story collection, “The Warm Country,” which was published in 1962.
Windham is perhaps best known for his memoirs, which include “Emblems of Conduct” (1964), about his early life in Atlanta, “Tennessee Williams’ Letters to Donald Windham, 1940-1965” (1977), the publication of which caused a rift between the two men, and “Lost Friendships” (1987) an account of his friendships with Capote and Williams.
The Donald Windham – Sandy M. Campbell Literature Prizes at Yale honor both Windham and his longtime partner, a Princeton undergraduate who he met in 1943 and who published the first editions of many of his books through his press, the Stamperia Valdonega in Verona, Italy.
The Windham – Campbell Prizes were established with the guidance of Jeffrey Peabody and Eugene Kokot, co-executors of the Windham estate. The prizes will be awarded annually and will recognize both established and promising English language writers in fiction, non-fiction, and drama. Poetry may be added as a fourth category at a later time. Not having had any academic affiliation himself, Windham stated a particular interest in ensuring that writers who are academically unaffiliated are included for consideration.
According to his friend and co-executor of his estate, Eugene Kokot, “Donald’s decision to establish the prizes at Yale and to donate the remainder of his estate to the University was in large part due to his trust in and warm relationship with the institution that had been such good stewards of his literary collection for so many years.”
The Donald Windham – Sandy Campbell Collection is part of the Yale Collection of American Literature at the Beinecke Library. It is a rich and diverse trove of correspondence between Windam and Campbell and Williams, Forster, Capote, and Isherwood, as well as other notable writers such as Carson McCullers, Marianne Moore, Graham Greene, Isak Dinesen and Paul Bowles. Also in the collection are photographs by George Platt Lynes and Carl Van Vechten. The bequest adds additional writings, correspondence with literary luminaries, photographs, and artwork, including the gift of a Paul Cadmus painting to the Yale University Art Gallery. In addition to donating a significant collection of his literary papers, Donald Windham’s early gifts to Yale established an endowment for curatorial support of the collection. His bequest also included an additional contribution to the curatorial endowment, ensuring permanent support for the collection at the Beinecke Library.
Image: Donald Windham, second from left, in 1949 at Cafe Nicholson in Manhattan with, from left, the ballerina Tanaquil Le Clercq, the artist Buffie Johnson, Tennessee Williams and Gore Vidal (Photo: Karl Bissinger).
PRESS CONTACT: Robin Hogen 203-432-5423
Literary wags love to point out the blunders of short-sighted editors of yore who, failing to recognize genius, took a pass on such later-acknowledged masterpieces as James Joyce‘s Ulysses, Dr. Seuss‘ And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street and John Kennedy Toole‘s A Confederacy of Dunces. What we hear less about are the initially — and perhaps deservedly — rejected manuscripts that later ride into print on the coattails of their author’s renown. Gertrude Stein‘s To Do: A Book of Alphabets and Birthdays falls squarely into this group.
Stein wrote To Do in 1940 after the success of her first children’s book, The World is Round (1938). Following a year of rejections, it found a willing publisher in 1942, but the project was tabled during the war. In 1957, Yale University Press published a text-only version in its seventh volume of Stein’s unpublished writings. Now, more than 70 years after Stein wrote it, it has taken To Do off its to-do list by producing the first illustrated edition.
Thanks in large part to Giselle Potter’s whimsical and wondrous illustrations, but also to Yale’s exquisite book design, To Do is a beautiful volume to behold. But even with the boost of Porter’s fabulous zebra-striped landscape for the letter Z and typewriters strolling along an allee of cauliflowers on the H page, To Do is more intriguing literary artifact than delightful read. As Timothy Young, curator of modern books and manuscripts at Yale’s Beinecke Library, notes in his illuminating introduction, “children are not the core audience for this book.” He cites as hurdles the text’s “challenging linguistic exercises” and “recurrent sense of menace” — though in fact the stories are no grimmer than Grimm and no gorier than Gorey. Young acknowledges that adult readers, too, may find the abstract text demanding. He suggests reading the book aloud, and, “If you have any trouble, read faster and faster until you don’t.”
To complain that Stein — the woman best known for her pronouncement that “a rose is a rose is a rose” — is repetitive is akin to griping that the pope is Catholic. That said, one quickly understands why the long-winded To Do had difficulty finding a publisher. Although there is wit and whimsy and an absurdist sensibility that’s a precursor to Maira Kalman‘s work, it’s buried in dense pages of run-on prose. For each letter of the alphabet, Stein calls up four names — often based on real-life friends — for which she spins circular tales filled with internal rhymes about mutable birthdays and fortunes: “This is the sad story of Leslie-Lily./Lily who always found everything hilly./Leslie’s little Lily’s last birthday.”
There are riches: passages about war, about writer’s block, about multiple births and about a self-immolating giant rabbit. There’s even a passage that expresses our impatience: “And Mr. House said nothing more, because he was not a bore and he would have been of course he would have been if he had said anything more./More More More./Shut oh shut the door.”
My advice: Sample a few pages at a time — no more — or read it from cover to cover and snore.