Post 2: Preparing for the Summer Archive Travels Ahead (Edward Millman, Nathanael West Project)

Hello everyone! I’ve been enjoying engaging with my research materials on Nathanael West and my preparations are underway for my travels to various archives and libraries . My project entails, in addition to what is mentioned in my first post, finding and analyzing manuscripts, drafts, letters (to friends, other writers, editors, publishers, etc.), and other archival material produced by and regarding Nathanael West and his work.

As of now, I am planning my trips Yale Beinecke Library, The Harvard Library Special Collections, The Brown University Library Special Collections, and the Columbia University Library Special Collections. The Beinecke Library contains letters from and to William Carlos Williams, who worked with West on Contact magazine and was a friend of West’s. Brown’s library looks to be potentially the most fruitful given that it has a plethora of West-related papers. The following entry details the extent of material at Brown:

Papers, 1914-1987; Correspondence; typescripts; notes, handwritten drafts; working files with newspaper clippings and tear sheets; photographs; printed books. Includes manuscripts, photographs, etc. of Nathanael West (Brown class of 1924), brother-in-law and friend of Perelman. Also includes photographs and books of Laura Perelman (Pembroke class of 1930), wife of S.J. Perelman and sister of Nathanael West.

I also plan to contact SUNY Buffalo’s Library, UCLA Library Special Collections, and the Huntington Library, San Marino California to acquire photocopies of relevant material. Respectively these libraries contain miscellenous letters and papers, the RKO Pictures archive, and other West screenplays. The Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center (HRC); University of Texas at Austin contains the following, particularly useful collection of West-related materials gathered by a West scholar:

Collection of papers, 1930-1966; Includes 36 letters and telegrams from West to Beatrice Mathieu Roos, Feb.-Dec. 1930, and a pencil sketch of her by West [1930?]. Also includes photocopy of letter from Roos to West [1930?] and letter from Jay Martin (West’s biographer) to Roos, answered 25 July 1966. Also included is photocopy of a revised typescript of a story by West, The fake, 22 p.

I am currently working to locate the following items:

  1. Contact Editions Archives for Dream Life of Balso Snell first edition and manuscripts.
  2. Contact magazine 1930’s editions and related manuscipts, correspondence.
  3. The Covici-Friede (publishing house) archive for the first edition of A Cool Million and related manuscripts.
  4. Liverwright (publishing house) Archive for Miss Lonelyhearts first edition and related materials.

Other than preparing for my travels and planning my budget from my fellowship grant, which I will use for anticipated travel expenses (train tickets and hotels mostly,) I have been Re-reading Nathanael West’s novels, short stories, letters, etc., reading the most updated biographies on West, and reading relevant sections of biographies of William Carlos Williams and S.J. Perelman. Additionally, I have been watching all films associated/adapted from West’s novels (with particular focus on Day of the Locust.) In the upcoming time prior to my trip(s) I will be reading the most influential book-length studies on West and relevant secondary material and continuing to aggregate a list of articles to read (primarily, those mentioned in American Literary Scholarship and the MLA Bibliography.)

Let me know if you have any questions or would like recomendations on which of West’s novels to read!

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