Clarence Brown Papers Open

The Manuscripts Division is pleased to announce that the Clarence Brown Papers (C1571) are now open for research in the Princeton University Library’s Department of Rare Books and Special Collections. The papers were the generous gift of the Estate of Clarence Brown, through his widow Jacqueline Brown, Executor. Clarence Brown (1929-2015) had a long and distinguished teaching career in Russian and Comparative Literature at Princeton from 1959 until his retirement in 1999. He was a faculty member in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures from 1967 and in the Department of Comparative Literature from 1971.

Brown’s name will forever be associated with that of the great Russian poet Osip Emilyevich Mandelstam (1891-1938), a tragic victim of Stalinist repression. Brown spent decades studying Mandelstam’s life and work, and translating his poetry and prose. It was through Brown’s friendship with the poet’s widow Nadezhda Mandelstam (1899-1980) that the papers of Osip Mandelstam were donated to Princeton in 1976, together with all literary rights. Brown initially served as custodian of the papers, which were later transferred to the Manuscripts Division. The Princeton University Library has digitized the Mandelshtam Papers (C0539), including a significant portion of his extant manuscripts, in order to make them available to researchers worldwide. Brown’s papers include correspondence with Nadezhda Mandelstam, chiefly relating to the publication of her memoir Hope Against Hope (1970); files pertaining to Brown’s successful collaboration with the American poet and translator W. S. Merwin (Princeton Class of 1948) on the English translation, Osip Mandelstam: Selected Poems (1974); and Brown’s Russian travel diaries (1962-66) and notes on conversations with poet Anna Akhmatova (1889-1966).

The Clarence Brown Papers also contain his extensive correspondence with Guy Davenport (1927-2005), a prolific fiction writer, poet, critic, translator, artist, and illustrator. Both were South Carolina natives, fellow students at Anderson Boys’ High School, and undergraduates at Duke University. Davenport taught at the University of Kentucky. There are seven folders of Davenport’s original letters, mostly typed, dating from 1945 to 2005. The letters include Davenport’s discussions of their respective literary interests, recent publications, ongoing projects, teaching careers, and other topics. The Manuscripts Division already had five folders of Davenport correspondence in the archives of the distinguished literary journal The Hudson Review (C1091), to which Davenport was a frequent contributor, 1949-2005. Jacqueline Brown also donated Davenport’s 1946 self-portrait (Graphic Arts Collection).

The Manuscript Division holds papers of other former faculty in Comparative Literature, including R. P. Blackmur, Robert Fagles, Joseph Frank, Edmund Keeley, and Allen Tate. For information about collections, consult finding aids or contact Public Services, at rbsc@princeton.edu

Clarence Brown and W. S. Merwin at Princeton Commencement, 1993.

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