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Arthur Livingston:

An Inventory of His Papers at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center

Creator: Livingston, Arthur, 1883-1944
Title: Arthur Livingston Papers
Inclusive Dates: 1494-1986
Extent: 22 document boxes, 3 galley folders, 1 oversize folder (9.16 linear feet)
Access:

Open for research




Acquisition:

Gift, 1950

Processed by:

Robert Kendrick, Chip Cheek, Elizabeth Murray, Nov. 1996-June 1997

Repository:

Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center The University of Texas at Austin


Arthur Livingston, professor of Romance languages and literatures, publisher, and translator, was born on September 30, 1883, in Northbridge, Massachusetts. Livingston earned the A. B. degree at Amherst College in 1904, continuing his work in Romance languages at Columbia University, where he received the Ph. D. in 1911. His teaching positions included an instructorship in Italian at Smith College (1908-1909), an associate professorship in Italian at Cornell University, where Livingston also supervised the Petrarch Catalogue (1910-1911), and an associate professorship in Romance Languages at Columbia University (1911-1917). Among the various honors bestowed upon Livingston were membership in Phi Beta Kappa and the Venetian academic society, the Reale deputazione veneta di storia patria; he was also decorated as a Cavalier of the Crown of Italy.

Livingston's desire to disseminate the work of leading European writers and thinkers in the United States led him to an editorship with the Foreign Press Bureau of the Committee on Public Information during World War I. When the war ended, Livingston, in partnership with Paul Kennaday and Ernest Poole, continued his efforts on behalf of foreign literature by founding the Foreign Press Service, an agency that represented foreign authors in English-language markets. Among the many authors whose work Livingston introduced in the United States were Octave Aubry, Vicente Blasco Ibáñez, Giuseppe Antonio Borgese, Benedetto Croce, Claude Farrère, Guglielmo Ferrero, André Maurois, Alberto Moravia, Gaetano Mosca, Giovanni Papini, Vilfredo Pareto, Luigi Pirandello, Giuseppe Prezzolini, and Guido da Verona. Livingston returned to academic life at Columbia University in 1925, where he was appointed full professor in 1935. Livingston died in 1944.

Among Livingston's scholarly work, two book-length studies stand out: the critical edition I sonetti morali ed amorosi di Gian Francesco Busenello (1911) and La vita veneziana nelle opere di Gian Francesco Busenello (1913). Livingston was also an accomplished translator, whose translations include Octave Aubry's Napoleon: Soldier and Emperor (1938), St. Helena (1936), and The Second Empire (1940); Vicente Blasco Ibáñez's The Borgias, or, At the Feet of Venus (1930), The Knight of the Virgin (1930), The Mayflower (1921), Mexico in Revolution (1920), A Novelist's Tour of the World (1926), The Phantom with Wings of Gold (1931), The Pope of the Sea (1927), The Torrent (1921), and Unknown Lands: The Story of Columbus (1929); Benedetto Croce's The Conduct of Life (1924); Claude Farrère's The House of the Secret (1923); Guglielmo Ferrero's The Seven Vices (1929); Alberto Moravia's Wheel of Fortune (1937); Vilfredo Pareto's The Mind and Society (1935); and Luigi Pirandello's Each in His Own Way and Two Other Plays (1923), The Late Mattia Pascal (1923), and The One-Act Plays of Luigi Pirandello (1928). In addition to book reviews and articles, which Livingston wrote throughout his career, a collection of criticism, Essays on Modern Italian Literature, was published posthumously in 1950.


The Arthur Livingston Papers include typescript and holograph manuscripts, correspondence, postcards, printed sheets, invitations, programs, page proofs, galleys, photographs, contracts, an exhibition catalogue, and clippings. The collection is organized in four series: I. Works (2.5 boxes, 1907-1939); II. Correspondence (5.5 boxes, 1904-1944); III. Miscellaneous (10 boxes, 3 galley folders, 1 oversize folder, 1494-1986, bulk 1903-1944); IV. Personal (4 boxes, 1883-1944).

The collection offers a rich record of the process of bringing foreign-language authors to the American public. The collection is almost equally divided between English and Italian language materials, with a few additional materials in French, German, Latin, and Spanish. Livingston's own writings emphasize the strength of his commitment to promote European authors in the United States, especially his reviews of books such as Giovanni Papini's Gog and Dante Vivo, Guglielmo Ferrero's Four Years of Fascism, and Luigi Lucatelli's Teodoro the Sage. Furthermore, Livingston's articles on Luigi Pirandello and Sem Benelli introduced writers such as these to an American audience. There are, moreover, Livingston translations of important authors, including the correspondence of Niccolò Machiavelli, Alonso de Ercilla y Zúñiga's La Araucana, and several works by Vicente Blasco Ibáñez.

Livingston's position with the Foreign Press Service was a boon to his efforts on behalf of European authors. Trying to satisfy the financial demands of writers while allaying the fears of American publishers concerning the untested American appetite for foreign literature, Livingston convinced a large number of American publishers that a sustained market for the work of European authors could be created in the United States. The collection contains plentiful correspondence between Livingston and American publishers, ranging from discussions of the minutiae of publishing to trends in American reading taste. More important, much of the correspondence comments on important authors, their viability in an American market, and their interactions with the world of American publishing. At the same time, much correspondence reveals the authors' frustrations with American publishing and its aversion to risk as well as the unpredictability of American readers.

As a result of Livingston's work at the Foreign Press Service, original manuscripts by writers whom he courted are present. These range from opinion pieces and journalism to novels and literary criticism. Examples include Vicente Blasco Ibáñez's La tierra de todos, Guglielmo Ferrero's Liberazione, Alberto Moravia's La cospirazione, ovvero, La mascherata, and Vittorio Racca's "Working With Pareto." Luigi Pirandello, whose correspondence to Livingston offers an unusually detailed example of Livingston's working relationships with authors, is represented by a one-act play, L'Imbecille. In addition, there are four early Italian documents, dating from 1494 to 1637, which were apparently obtained by Livingston during his research on the Venetian poet, Giovanni Francesco Busenello.

Another important aspect of the collection is its illumination of international politics in the early twentieth century, above all, of the rise of Fascism in Italy after World War I. Throughout the collection, both American and Italian writers discuss Benito Mussolini and his disavowal of early leftist sympathies in favor of the authoritarianism of the extreme right of the political spectrum. Invariably, Mussolini provokes either uncritical support or acid dissent among figures such as Lauro de Bosis, Guglielmo Ferrero, Giovanni Gentile, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Gaetano Mosca, and Giuseppe Prezzolini. Even Americans were not immune to the divisiveness of Fascism, as Livingston's own professional difficulties--the result of his unapologetic and strenuous opposition to Fascism--at Columbia University affirm. Among the more potent testaments to the effects of Fascism are Gaetano Salvemini's correspondence, documenting the trials of living in Italy as an opponent of the Fascist Party, an interview with the prominent Futurist, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, conducted by Francesco Luigi Ferreri, in which the artist extols Fascism as the natural and desirable outgrowth of Futurism, and Lauro de Bosis's "Histoire de ma mort," the open letter in which he defends his final defiant gesture against the Fascist government, which would cost him his life.

Livingston's academic responsibilities underlie the balance of the collection. A quantity of correspondence evokes the vicissitudes of academic life, the aspirations and the frustrations of both teacher and student, and the political intrigues inevitably to be found in any academic environment. Although much of the correspondence concerns similar academic matters, some notably casts light upon larger issues, such as pedagogical methods in the early twentieth century and the effects of Fascism on university life, both in the United States and in Italy.