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Christine Brooke-Rose:

An Inventory of Her Papers at the Harry Ransom Center

Creator Brooke-Rose, Christine, 1923-
Title Christine Brooke-Rose Papers
Dates: 1893-1992
Extent 21 boxes, 1 oversize box, 2 galley folders (9 linear feet)
Abstract Novelist, poet, and teacher Christine Brooke-Rose began her writing career with rather conventional novels, but soon branched into works which successfully played with language and form. Her papers provide representative forms of all of Brook-Rose's major works including books, essays, and poems, as well as extensive correspondence from agents, editors, friends, and students. Also present is a quantity of personal materials documenting Brooke-Rose's education, wartime service, marriages, and divorces.
RLIN Record # TXRC98-A40
Languages English, French, and German.
Access

Open for research




Acquisition

Purchase, 1992

Processed by

Katherine Mosley, 1993

Repository:

Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin


Christine Frances Evelyn Brooke-Rose was born in Geneva, Switzerland, on January 16, 1923. The younger of two daughters of Alfred Northbrook Rose, who was English, and Evelyn Brooke Rose, who was half Swiss and half American, Christine Brooke-Rose was raised in Brussels and educated at Somerville College, Oxford (B.A. 1949, M.A. 1953) and University College, London (Ph.D. 1954). Her parents' marriage dissolved while Brooke-Rose was quite young; her father died in 1934, and her mother later became a Benedictine nun (Mother Anselm).

During World War II, Brooke-Rose served as an intelligence officer in the British Women's Auxiliary Air Force, working at Bletchley Park. She married Rodney Ian Shirley Bax, whom she met through her war work, on May 16, 1944. They were divorced in January, 1948, and the marriage was later annulled. On February 13, 1948, Brooke-Rose married Polish poet and novelist Jerzy Pietrkiewicz (later Peterkiewicz). When her husband became ill in 1956, Brooke-Rose began to write novels after having published Gold (1955), a metaphysical religious poem based upon the anonymous fourteenth-century English poem Pearl. Her first two novels, The Languages of Love (1957) and The Sycamore Tree (1958), were satirical novels of manners. The Dear Deceit (1960), based upon her father's life, and The Middlemen: A Satire (1961) were also conventional novels, although The Dear Deceit used the technique of presenting the story in reverse chronological order.

After her own illness in 1962, Brooke-Rose's fiction changed dramatically; her next novel, Out (1964), discarded the traditional ideals of character and plot and began the play with language and form that has marked her work ever since. From 1956 to 1968, Brooke-Rose worked in London as a freelance literary journalist. In 1968, Brooke-Rose separated from her husband and moved to Paris, beginning a career as a teacher of Anglo-American literature and literary theory at the University of Paris VIII, Vincennes. As a professor, Brooke-Rose was able to work on her fiction only during summer breaks. Such (1966) is the story of the after-death experience of an astronomer, told in terms of astrophysics. Between (1968), centering around the experiences of a professional translator, is a book about language and communication. In 1970, Go When You See the Green Man Walking, a collection of short stories, was published. Brooke-Rose has called her next novel, Thru (1975), a "fiction about the fictionality of fiction."

Nine years elapsed between the publication of Thru and the publication of Amalgamemnon (1984); Brooke-Rose referred to this period as her "traversée du desert." Amalgamemnon and three subsequent novels, Xorandor (1986), Verbivore (1990), and Textermination (1991), form a loose "computer quartet" reflecting on the demise of humanism. Amalgamemnon, written entirely in future and conditional tenses, is about a female professor of literature in a time when the humanities have become irrelevant. Xorandor is a science fiction story about the discovery by two children of a silicon-based civilization that feeds on nuclear radiation. The story is written in the form of dialogue and computer printouts by the children, who use an invented technological slang. The book incorporates areas of physics and was written with the assistance of the author's cousin, Claude Brooke, a physicist to whom Brooke-Rose was briefly married from 1981 to 1982. In Verbivore, a sequel, the now grown children must deal with Xorandor's descendents, whose activities have caused a failure of electronic communications media. Textermination, about the gathering of hundreds of recognizable literary characters at a Convention of Prayer for Being, deals with the advent of a semi-literate popular culture.

As a translator, Brooke-Rose is best known for In the Labyrinth (1968), an English translation of Alain Robbe-Grillet's Dans le labyrinth and winner of the 1969 Arts Council Translation Prize.

As a literary critic, Brooke-Rose is best known for her two studies of Ezra Pound, A ZBC of Ezra Pound (1971) and A Structural Analysis of Pound's Usura Canto: Jakobson's Method Extended and Applied to Free Verse (1976). A Grammar of Metaphor (1958), a critical study of English poets, was an outgrowth of her doctoral work at University College. A Rhetoric of the Unreal (1981) is a collection of essays analyzing narrative techniques in various types of fiction, while Stories, Theories, and Things (1991) contains essays of structural analyses of literary texts and general discussions of issues in literary theory.

Now retired from teaching, Christine Brooke-Rose lives in the south of France. The Brooke-Rose collection was purchased by the HRHRC in 1992. More information about Christine Brooke-Rose and her work may be found in the Dictionary of Literary Biography, vol. 14, pp. 124-129.


The Brooke-Rose papers consist of original and carbon copy typescripts, holograph manuscripts, computer printouts, notebooks, correspondence, clippings, galley proofs, original and photocopy page proofs, offprints, documents, printed genealogies, publishing contracts, royalty statements, and family papers, ranging in date from 1893 to 1992 (bulk 1957-92). The material is arranged in five series: Works (1897-1992, 14 boxes), Reviews (1955-92, 1.5 boxes), Correspondence (1956-91, 3.5 boxes), Personal/Family (1893-1979, 1 box), and Computer Printouts (1986-89, 1 box). The Works series is arranged in three subseries: Books, Essays, and Poetry. The Reviews series is divided into two subseries: Reviews by Christine Brooke-Rose and Reviews of Works by Christine Brooke-Rose. The Correspondence series has two subseries: Business Correspondence and Personal Correspondence.

All of Brooke-Rose's major works are represented in some form. Many early versions of works are present, and these often reveal original titles. In the folder list, the discarded titles of works are indicated with quotation marks, and the final titles are italicized. Where Brooke-Rose had labeled varying versions of manuscripts, those labels are retained and indicated in the folder list with single quotation marks. In keeping with Brooke-Rose's tendency toward chronological order, works and personal/family papers have also been arranged in chronological order. Reviews and correspondence remain in the chronological order established by Brooke-Rose.

Most of the correspondence is incoming correspondence from publishers, agents, editors, friends, colleagues, and students. Among the correspondents are Brigid Brophy, Frank Kermode, Peter du Sautoy, Muriel Spark, Raleigh Trevelyan, and Michael Westlake. All correspondents are included in the Index of Correspondents.

Among the personal and family materials in the collection are documents and correspondence relating to Brooke-Rose's education, career, wartime service, marriages, and divorces.

Atari computer disks that were received with the collection have been reformatted to Macintosh's operating system. The texts of the files were compared with manuscripts already present in the collection; when the texts differed, the computer files were printed. These printouts are grouped together by computer disk. Due to the computer reformatting, margins, fonts, and some diacritics are not the way they appeared on Brooke-Rose's original disks.

Brooke-Rose's personal copies of her books, anthologies containing her work, offprints, and periodicals containing her work have been withdrawn from the collection and cataloged with the Center's book holdings. Some copies are signed or annotated by Brooke-Rose.


Other manuscripts relating to Christine Brooke-Rose at the HRC can be found in the Alec Craig, John Lehmann, London Magazine, and Compton Mackenzie collections.


Correspondents

Aldiss, BrianWilson, 1925-

Anson, Peter Frederick, 1889-

Barth, John

Bax, Rodney

Belben, Rosalind, 1941-

Birch, Sarah

Brophy, Brigid, 1929-

Bunting, Basil, 1900-

Burgess, Anthony, 1917-

Byatt, A.S. (Antonia Susan), 1936-

Cohen, Ralph, 1917-

Davie, Donald

Dick, Kay

Du Sautoy, Peter

Freeman, Michael, 1938-

Gordon, Giles, 1940-

Gordon-Forbes, Dorothy

Hesse, Eva

Hoepffner, Bernard

Howard, Jean Alington

Josipovici, Gabriel, 1940-

Kermode, Frank, 1919-

Kilmartin, Terence

Laughlin, James, 1914-

Lerner, Laurence david, 1925-

Lodge, David, 1935-

Martin, Richard, 1934-

Mitchell, Lee Clark, 1947-

Nash, Cristopher

Peterkiewicz, Jerzy, 1916-

Rabaté, Jean-Michel, 1949-

Rachewiltz, Mary de

Rimmon-Kenan, Shlomith

Scherer, Olga

Schmidt, Michael, 1947-

Spark, Muriel

Steiner, George, 1929-

Suleiman, Susan Rubin, 1939-

Taylor, Telford

Temple, Ruth Zabriskie

Trevelyan, Raleigh

Trypanis, C.A. (Constantine Athanasius), 1909-

Westlake, Michael

Wilson, Angus

Organizations

Cambridge University Press

Carcanet (Firm)

Subjects

Authors and publishers

Divorce--Religious aspects--Catholic Church

Experimental fiction

Linguists

Marriage--Annulment

Science fiction--women authors

World War, 1939-1945--Female participants

World War, 1939-1945--Military intelligence

Document Types

Birth certificates

Contracts

Death certificates

Divorce records

Family histories

Floppy disks

Galley proofs

Genealogies

Legal documents

Marriage certificates

Postcards