Scope and Contents
|The Guy Davenport Papers consist of artwork, certificates, clippings, coins,
correspondence, currency, diplomas, galleys, index cards, journals, manuscripts,
microfilm, notebooks, objects, page proofs, photographs, printed works, scrapbooks,
sheet music, sound recordings, and stamp albums. The archive offers an extremely
full and detailed view of Davenport's personal life and professional career from
childhood until his death. The papers are arranged in six series: I. Works,
1939-2004, undated; II. Journals, Notebooks, and Commonplace Book, 1942-2004,
undated; III. Research Material, 1777-2004 (bulk 1949-1999), undated; IV.
Correspondence, 1945-2004, undated; V. Personal and Career-related, 1855-2004
1945-2004), undated; and VI. Works by Others, 1960-2002, undated.
|The Works series contains materials related to Davenport's creative efforts in
fiction, nonfiction, poetry, translation, reviewing, and contributions to works
others. Because Davenport's papers were so disorganized, material in this series
arranged by genre and then alphabetically by the titles of individual pieces or
book titles, as appropriate. Where Davenport filed correspondence and other
non-manuscript material with his manuscripts, this arrangement is preserved. All
correspondence is indexed in the Index of Correspondents at the end of this
|The Research series contains an assortment of materials that Davenport kept for its
relevance to his research interests (for example, material on Joyce and Pound)
for its general interest (for example, illustrated postcards). This material was
largely unorganized and is arranged mostly by format, except for a few subject
that are left as Davenport arranged them.
|Correspondence makes up the largest series in Davenport's archive and is divided into
two subseries: A. Incoming, 1945-2004, undated, and B. Outgoing, 1950-2004, undated.
Because Davenport did not use a computer or have an email account, his
correspondence was carried out completely through the mail. Davenport wrote letters
almost every day of his life, often turning out a dozen or more in one day. Over
2,300 correspondents are represented in the archive and are listed in the Index
Correspondents at the end of this guide. Since Davenport did not routinely keep
copies of his outgoing correspondence, the vast majority of this series consists
|The Personal and Career-related series contains material that sheds light on
Davenport's early years, family background, and financial affairs as well as his
achievements as writer and teacher. This series also contains an extensive
collection of photographs and Davenport's large stamp collection.
|The series Works by Others contains material by other writers that was not published
at the time Davenport received it. This material is identical to enclosures that
be found throughout his correspondence; however, no letters accompanied these
manuscripts, and so they were placed in this series and arranged alphabetically
|Series I. Works, 1939-2004, undated (37 boxes, 1 notecard
|Series I. Works contains materials related to Davenport's work as poet,
translator, reviewer, fiction writer, essayist, and critic. It is arranged
in six subseries: A. Fiction, 1947-2004, undated; B. Nonfiction, 1939-2004,
undated; C. Poetry, 1944-1989, undated; D. Translations, 1958-2000, undated;
E. Book Reviews, 1962-2003, undated; and F. Contributions to Works by
Others, 1965-2004, undated.
|Davenport's working method remained remarkably consistent during his writing
career. He first worked out his ideas and key passages in the journals that
he kept throughout his life. He also made brief notes early in the process,
often on small slips of paper. The next stage was usually handwritten drafts
of key portions of the work, followed by a more complete typed version. In
the present arrangement, the latter three stages are described as "notes,"
"drafts," and "typescripts." Partial or incomplete typescripts are denoted "fragments." Journals and notebooks will be
found in Series II. Journals, Notebooks, and Commonplace Book.
|Davenport was in the habit of filing correspondence and other related
material, such as research materials or ephemera, with his manuscripts, and
this arrangement is preserved. All correspondence in this series is listed
in the Index of Correspondents at the end of this guide.
|A high proportion of his work was written first for periodical publication
and then collected into one or more books. Each stage of this sequence
offered the opportunity for revision, and Davenport frequently took
advantage of these chances to polish his work. Because of the collage-like
character of much of his fiction, revision sometimes took the form of
rearranging discrete sections of a work, and this was often carried out by
cutting manuscripts apart and taping or pasting them back together in a
different order, followed sometimes by retyping. At times, Davenport
resorted to scissors when asked by a periodical to trim a contribution down
to a specified number of words. The term "typescript" is used whether or not the manuscript was cut up and
rearranged. In a few cases, cut-up pages were apparently not intended for
further use; these are designated as "discarded
|Davenport filed his manuscripts in folders (often double pocket) typically
labeled with the title of the individual piece or book. The original folders
were not retained during processing, but where they bore any writing other
than the expected title, photocopies were added to the folder's
|Because so much of Davenport's work was republished, he tended to migrate his
manuscripts from the original folder location to one representing a later
publication. Also complicating his original arrangement are the facts that
Davenport almost never dated and frequently failed to title his manuscripts,
and that he was apparently indifferent regarding his files. A folder marked
with one title frequently contains material from a completely different
piece, or unidentified material. In addition, upon arrival at the Ransom
Center, most of his manuscripts were unordered, unnumbered, and turned in
every possible combination of face up or down and head to toe.
|As a result, there is no way of determining whether material mixed together
was combined by intention or inadvertently. Where there was no apparent
reason for pages from two separate stories or essays to be combined, they
were separated during processing and filed under their respective titles; if
there was any reason to think apparently unrelated materials were
deliberately combined by Davenport, they were left as they were filed. As a
result there may be places where notes or pages from one piece remain
interfiled with those of another. Unfortunately, it was not feasible to
identify and index all instances where the contents of a folder deviates in
small ways from its title. Neither was it possible to index the many notes
and drafts of his stories located in his journals.
|In this inventory, where appropriate, materials for individual pieces (e.g.,
single stories or essays) are grouped in one alphabetical series, followed
by materials relating to book-length publication, also alphabetized by
|Subseries A. Fiction is the largest section of the Works series, filling
nineteen boxes. All of Davenport's fiction from his college years and later
is gathered here. (Juvenilia from his childhood and high school years is
located in Series IV. Personal and Career-related.)
|Because of his filing system, materials relating to a particular story may be
located in more than one place in this section, usually under the story's
title and also perhaps under the title of the book-length collection in
which it appeared. Since the material is easily located, there is no index
of story titles.
|The most extensive work in this subseries is a group of eighty-five erotic
vignettes and stories with the general title, "Idylls." Sixty-three of these were given roman numerals by
Davenport (I-LIX, including four stories with duplicate numbers), and
another twenty-two were unnumbered but have been assigned arabic
|Untitled and unidentified stories are gathered at the end of the "Individual stories" section.
|Subseries B. Nonfiction contains materials relating to Davenport's essays,
works of literary and art criticism, and various projects not included in
other subseries. This seven-box section is arranged largely as Davenport
maintained the material. No distinction is made between published and
unpublished essays; however, untitled essays that exist only in unfinished
form or are not identified with any published work are gathered in a section
labeled "Untitled and unfinished," and an
indication made of their subject matter. Similarly, four unfinished book
projects are grouped at the end of the section of book-length works.
|The "Individual essays" section contains
materials for sixty-four of Davenport's essays, less than half the number
recorded in Joan Crane's Guy Davenport: A Descriptive
Bibliography, published ten years before Davenport's death.
Essays are also located in the "Books"
portion of this subseries, but these materials are not indexed.
|Subseries C. Poetry, filling two boxes, contains primarily Davenport's own
original poetry, although because of his publication practices, some
translations are also located here. Much of the poetry was first published
in a periodical, then collected in one or more of Davenport's separate
publications. All of his poetry publications are represented here except
Cydonia Florentia (1966) and The Medusa (1985), for which no materials are
present. This section is arranged alphabetically by title of the
publication, which is how Davenport maintained the materials. A few
unpublished drafts of individual poems that were mixed with other materials
are gathered at the end of this section.
|Subseries D. Translations is devoted to Davenport's work as a translator from
classical Greek and other languages. This subseries comprises five boxes.
Significantly, Davenport did not always observe a strict distinction between
his translations and his poetry; for example, his last book of poetry,
Thasos and Ohio (1985), contains almost
equal amounts of both types of material. As a result, some material relating
to translations is located in Subseries C. Poetry.
|The arrangement in this subseries follows Davenport's own: it is largely
organized by the author he was translating (given here in alphabetical
order), regardless of where the material was ultimately published. As with
his other works, the same material (often revised) appeared frequently in
more than one publication, both periodicals and books, but the publication
history is usually obscured by Davenport's filing system. For example,
Davenport filed together all his work on ancient Egyptian maxims, even
though part of it was a translation from the Italian of Boris de Rachewiltz
and part was translated from the Egyptian in collaboration with Reno Odlin.
As the two works were published separately, the relevant materials have been
separated into two groups for clarity.
|Where Davenport preserved materials related to a particular publication, that
arrangement is preserved in the "Books"
section of this subseries.
|Subseries E. Book Reviews consists of four boxes of fragments, typescripts
and clippings of book reviews that Davenport wrote primarily for the National Review and Harper's as well as various little magazines. Davenport was a
staff reviewer for the National Review from
1962 until 1978, and the majority of the material in this section consists
of pages from published issues of that periodical. Reviews are arranged
alphabetically by the name of the first author whose book is reviewed in a
particular article. However, for the National
Review, Davenport regularly reviewed three books in each
article. To enable users to locate all reviewed titles, an Index of Book
Reviews is furnished at the end of this guide. Very brief mentions, such as
those in the annual Christmas book lists and Random Notes features, are not
|Joan Crane's Guy Davenport: A Descriptive
Bibliography (1995) lists 249 individual articles containing
reviews by Davenport; the archive is missing material for several of these,
particularly those written early in his career.
|With reviews that Davenport wrote for Harper's
or little magazines, correspondence is frequently present and is listed in
the Index of Correspondents.
|Subseries F. Contributions to Works by Others is a two-box section that
contains material documenting Davenport's support of others' work by means
of forewords, introductions, afterwords, illustrations, or blurbs. This
section is arranged alphabetically by the name of the author to whose work
Davenport contributed. Blurbs are gathered into a single folder and arranged
alphabetically by the author of the book for which the blurb was furnished.
One computer disk containing files for Erik Anderson-Reece's A Balance of Quinces was transferred to the
Electronic Records Collection.
|Series II. Journals, Notebooks, and Commonplace Book, 1942-2004,
undated (4 boxes, 95 bound volumes)
|Series II. Journals, Notebooks, and Commonplace Book is composed of 95 bound
notebooks and 42 folders of smaller bound and unbound materials covering
Davenport's life from his mid-teens until his death.
|In 1997, Davenport wrote to a correspondent, "Do you keep a journal? I keep
two kinds: a log to keep track of letters in & out, books rec'd, movies
seen, events, visitors, and so forth. Scarcely a diary. The journals are
really workbooks, and notations. First drafts, ruminations." Davenport more
commonly referred to these two types as "journals" and "notebooks," the
former being the brief daily log and the latter referring to more elaborate
records of events in his life, thoughts about his work, and early drafts of
his poetry and fiction. He began making the distinction about 1979. However,
it is difficult to follow this division in arranging the material in this
series. Both types include dated entries, and occasionally record the same
events; there is widespread overlap in the dates of coverage of various
journals and notebooks; frequently Davenport blurs the lines between the two
categories by including extended entries in what would otherwise be called a
journal; and Davenport rarely titled any of the notebooks or journals and
was inconsistent when he did. As a result, the following organization was
adopted during processing at the Ransom Center: All journals or notebooks
that contain at least one dated entry are grouped together and arranged in
chronological order by the earliest date given in each. Notebooks without
dated entries are gathered in a separate group and arranged chronologically
based on internal evidence, such as events mentioned, works Davenport was
currently writing, the dates of inserted clippings or letters, physical
similarity to other notebooks, and so on.
|A more detailed description of the journals and notebooks--including
dimensions, number of pages containing writing, nature and condition of
illustrations, and brief notes on the general themes and subjects
discussed--is available for use in the Ransom Center's Reading and Viewing
|A few of the journals were held in three-ring binders, most of which were in
poor condition. With the exception of the earliest dated journal, the cover
of which is signed by his fellow students, all such binders were discarded
and the contents placed in folders. Where any writing appeared on the
discarded cover, a photocopy of the cover was retained.
|In addition to bound material, five folders of loose pages closely resembling
the style and content of typical journals or notebooks are included in this
|Beginning about 1961, Davenport began to illustrate his journals with
pasted-in images, mostly erotic, including photographs clipped from
magazines, advertisements, original photographs, and other kinds of
ephemera. The various pastes and glues with which he secured images in the
notebooks have deteriorated over time, and many images have come loose or
are very tenuously attached. Davenport also frequently inserted loose items
between pages, such as photographs, letters, clippings, receipts, stamps,
etc. For these reasons, access to the original journals and notebooks is
restricted, and digitized copies are available for access via the Ransom
Center's Reading and Viewing Research Portal, available in the Reading and
|Some images, particularly in the later journals, depicted apparently underage
children in sexual situations. These images were reviewed by legal staff at
the University of Texas, who found their presence in the archives to be a
violation of state and federal law and provided for their removal and
|Also present with the journals and notebooks is one commonplace book in which
Davenport transcribed quotations from his reading.
|All correspondence inserted within journal pages remains in its original
location and is listed in the Index of Correspondents at the end of this
|Series III. Research Material, 1777-2004 (bulk 1949-1999), undated (9
boxes, 5 serials boxes)
|Series III. Research Material contains a wide assortment of visual and
textual materials that Davenport preserved largely in no particular order.
Some of the material in this section relates to the subjects of his academic
research, for example the files on Joyce and Pound. Most of it, however,
consists of unrelated written or visual materials that Davenport found
interesting enough to save, apparently without a specific purpose in mind
and without imposing any organization on them. Only four portions of this
material were in labeled files: "The
Kingfisher," containing material related to the work of poet
Charles Olson; "Zukofsky," containing typed
transcriptions of Louis Zukofsky's annotations to various books; "Newspapers—EP," containing mostly clippings
from Italian newspapers relating to Ezra Pound; and "Ezra Pound: Letters to Martinelli,"
containing photocopies of typed transcriptions of Pound's letters and notes
to Sheri Martinelli; the rest of the present organization was imposed during
|Of note in this section are transcripts obtained from the Library of Congress
of Ezra Pound's wartime shortwave broadcasts from Italy, made between 7
December 1941 and 25 July 1943; photographs of manuscript pages from Pound's
Cantos; and a paperback copy of Jane Austen's Persuasion and Lady Susan
annotated by Louis Zukofsky.
|The Postcards section includes cards that Davenport kept together apparently
because he valued them for their images, whether containing messages from
correspondents or not. All correspondence in this series has been added to
the Index of Correspondents at the end of this guide.
|To prevent loss, the smallest clippings of illustrations were housed during
processing in compartmented plastic sleeves; this arrangement is based
solely on size.
|The dates for this series encompass several specimens of early currency. Five
small ancient coins were transferred to the Ransom Center Personal Effects
|Series IV. Correspondence, 1945-2004, undated (150 boxes)
|Davenport's correspondence is the largest section of his archive. It consists
of two subseries: A. Incoming, 1945-2004, undated, and B. Outgoing,
|Davenport's system for storing his incoming correspondence changed several
times during his lifetime. At an early period he used file cabinets and
arranged letters by correspondent's name. At other times he used letter
boxes and grouped correspondence under the first letter of the
correspondent's last name. In the last decade or so of his life, he simply
put all his correspondence together in boxes when he had finished with it,
so that it was arranged very roughly in chronological order. Complicating
matters further, at one point he hired student help to go through portions
of his correspondence, remove envelopes, separate enclosures, and transfer
the letters to file folders. Also adding to the general chaos of his system
was his habit of filing letters from the same correspondent sometimes under
the author's name and sometimes under the author's organizational
|As a result, it was not possible to preserve Davenport's original
arrangement. Consequently his incoming correspondence is now organized in
one alphabetical sequence, with each correspondent's letters arranged
|Because of Davenport's renown as critic and book reviewer, he was frequently
sent copies of other writers' work for appraisal. These enclosures, whether
manuscripts or printed material, remain in place with the correspondence
except for large printed items, which were transferred to the Ransom
Center's book collections with a record of their separation left in the
original location. Printed materials that Davenport received without a cover
letter were transferred to the book collections.
|Because of the large number of manuscripts sent to Davenport, it was not
feasible to prepare an index of works by other authors. Instead, the Index
of Correspondents at the end of this guide indicates where any manuscript
materials may be in a given correspondent's files.
|For the most part, Davenport stored his correspondence in the original
envelopes. Where possible, each piece of correspondence is arranged in this
order: letter, enclosures, envelope. If no letter was associated with them,
loose enclosures and empty envelopes were placed at the end of a
correspondent's files. Envelopes that were bulky or oversize were
photocopied during processing and the original replaced with the
|Davenport's outgoing correspondence occupies four folders. Davenport did not
routinely keep copies of his own letters, but occasionally he made use of a
photocopier to copy all or part of a letter. The outgoing correspondence
files consist of these photocopies as well as a few letters that were
returned to Davenport by the post office as undeliverable. These files are
arranged alphabetically by addressee, except for a single group of blurbs
and letters of recommendation that Davenport filed together. Correspondents
in this subseries are included in the Index of Correspondents.
|Series V. Personal and Career-related, 1855-2004 (bulk 1945-2004),
undated (19 boxes, 2 notecard boxes)
|Series V. Personal and Career-related contains material related to
Davenport's personal life and his career as teacher, writer, and artist. It
contains his address book, awards, certificates, clippings, his doctoral
dissertation and Oxford thesis, ephemera, family records, financial records,
material for interviews and questionnaires, juvenilia, legal records, a
library catalog on cards, lists of his publications and résumés,
medical records, military records, material related to organizations he was
involved with, records relating to his pets, photographs, publishers
catalogs and advertisements, school work and records, his stamp albums, and
|The two largest groups of materials in this section are Davenport's
collection of photographs and his stamp albums. Large portions of both
groups were originally housed in three-ring binders, but due to preservation
issues, the pages have been removed from the binders; however, the original
groupings have been preserved and photocopies made of any writing on the
|The photographs are almost entirely snapshots of his family and his travels
to Europe. Forty-eight original prints of photographs by Ralph Eugene
Meatyard, as well as four by Christopher Meatyard, two by Guy Mendes, one by
Willard Midgette, and one by an unidentified photographer were transferred
to the Photography Collection.
|Davenport began collecting stamps as a child and continued the hobby
throughout his life. His collection filled 19 binders and is arranged
alphabetically by country of issue.
|Although the folder Davenport entitled ‘Translations' consists primarily of
correspondence relating to proposed translations of his works into other
languages, it is filed under financial records because Davenport himself
maintained this association.
|Also in the financial files is a small notebook that Davenport briefly used
as a journal before he turned it into a year-by-year account of his income
from various sources, primarily royalties, for the years 1981-2004. The
journal entries cover five pages and are not dated.
|With help from Bonnie Jean Cox and at least one other assistant, Davenport
created a set of index cards to catalog his personal library. The cards are
present in this series and the library has been transferred to the Ransom
Center's book collections.
|Series VI. Works by Others, 1960-2002, undated (7 boxes, 2 serials
|Series VI. Works by Others contains material sent by authors or publishers to
Davenport that he separated from accompanying letters. The series is made up
of material that was unpublished at the time Davenport received it as well
as a small group of periodicals. Other published materials are filed in
various sections of the Research series or, in the case of books, have been
transferred to the Center's book collections.
|It should be noted that many of the letters in the Correspondence series
include the same type of enclosures found in this series; however, because
of the volume of those enclosures, they have not been indexed. See the notes
to the Index of Correspondents at the end of this finding aid for additional
|The contents of this series are arranged alphabetically by the author's name.
The description also includes the title as furnished by the author or
Davenport (which may not be the title under which the work was ultimately
published), the format of the item (e.g., typescript, photocopy, printout,
etc.), and the date, if known.