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University of Texas at Austin

Artine Artinian:

An Inventory of His Collection at the Harry Ransom Center

Creator: Artinian, Artine, 1907-2005
Title: Artine Artinian Collection
Dates: 1785-1963
Extent: 24 document boxes (10.8 linear feet), 1 oversize box, 1 galley folder, 7 oversize folders
Abstract: The Artine Artinian Collection of French literary manuscripts represents over thirty years of meticulous accumulation by the distinguished Maupassant scholar. The collection focuses on French writers of the latter half of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, with the largest segment devoted to Guy de Maupassant (1850-1893).
Call Number: Manuscript Collection MS-00136
Language: Material written in French and English.
Access: Open for research.

Administrative Information

Acquisition: Purchase and gifts, 1966-1975 (R3110)
Processed by: Monique Daviau, Kristen Davis, and Elizabeth Garver, 2006

Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin

Biographical Sketch

Artine Artinian was a distinguished scholar of French literature, as well as an astute manuscript collector. He was infected with the collecting "virus," as he put it, when as a young high school student, he bought twenty books from a friend who was moving out of town, among which were three volumes by Guy de Maupassant. Little did he know that from then on all his allowance would be destined to the purchase of Maupassant's works, first in English, then in French. As both his taste and his pocketbook matured, he followed the usual slippery slope of the collector, by buying first editions, progressing to numbered editions, and finally to accumulating Maupassant manuscripts and correspondence, as well as the literary output of other French writers from the Belle Époque, such as Proust, Flaubert, and Verlaine.
Of Armenian descent, Artine Artinian was born on Dec. 8, 1907 in Pazardjik, Bulgaria. As an adolescent, he worked as a shoe-shiner in Attleboro, Mass., after his family emigrated there in 1920. He was able to attend Bowdoin College (1931) with support from his loyal shoe-shining customers, and in later years, he returned the favor by establishing a scholarship fund for needy students there. He received a diploma from the Université de Paris in 1932, an A.M. from Harvard the following year, and a PhD from Columbia in 1941. His dissertation, Maupassant Criticism in France, 1880-1940, with an Inquiry into His Present Fame and a Bibliography, was published the same year. He also edited The Complete Short Stories of Guy de Maupassant (1955), which expurgated sixty-five inauthentic works from the Maupassant canon, and remains authoritative, even after half a century. In 1964, Artinian retired from his post as Chairman of the Division of Languages and Literature at Bard College, where he had been teaching since 1935. His collecting did not stop with retirement, however, as he continued to amass manuscripts and artwork, especially portraits, including artist self-portraits.
Professor Artinian believed that teaching was an art, and used his manuscript collection to motivate his students. In an article that he wrote for the Modern Language Journal in 1952, he encouraged teachers to enliven their lectures with the use of original documents in the classroom, and gave advice on how to accumulate them judiciously--even on a teacher's salary. "My own collection has developed to its present size and scope over a period of many years. The story of its growth is full of memorable adventures, my life has been considerably enriched by associations with other collectors in this country and abroad, and contacts with autograph and book dealers have frequently developed into highly pleasant personal relations."
Artinian's legacy was not solely of the scholarly sort, however. Mary McCarthy used him as a template for her character Aristide Poncy in The Groves of the Academe (1952), after she was hired to teach at Bard in 1945. McCarthy portrayed Poncy as genial and innocent, if a trifle absent-minded, often returning from trips to France minus a student, and with "a taste in dress that suggested Sherlock Holmes." Additionally, Gore Vidal used his name for the minor role of a psychiatrist in his play The Best Man (1960). In 1992, Artinian helped David Lehman flesh out the deconstructionist Paul de Man's chaotic years at Bard for the paperback edition of his book Signs of the Times: Deconstruction and the Fall of Paul de Man.
Artine Artinian died on November 19, 2005. His wife Margaret Woodbridge Artinian, whom he met while at Columbia, preceded him in death earlier the same year. They are survived by two daughters and their son Robert, with whom Professor Artinian updated his earlier work in Maupassant Criticism: A Centennial Bibliography, 1880-1979 (1982).


"Artine Arinian." Who's Who in America. 53rd ed. New Providence, NJ: Marquis Who's Who, 1998.
Artinian, Artine. French Illustrated Letters from the Collection of Artine Artinian. Palm Beach: The Norton Gallery of Art, 1989.
Artinian, Artine. "La collection Maupassant." Le bel ami: bulletin de l'Association des "Amis de Guy De Maupassant" July 1951: 6-8.
Artinian, Artine. "Manuscript Documents as Teaching Aids." Modern Language Journal 36.4 (Apr. 1952): 188-90.
Fox, Margalit. "Artine Artinian, 97, Dies: French Literature Scholar." The New York Times 11 Dec. 2005.
Lehman, David. "Paul de Man: The Plot Thickens." The New York Times 24 May 1992.
McCarthy, Mary. The Groves of the Academe. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1952.
Vidal, Gore. The Best Man: A Play about Politics. Little, Brown and Company, 1960.

Scope and Contents

The Artine Artinian Collection of French literary manuscripts represents over thirty years of meticulous accumulation by the distinguished Maupassant scholar. The collection focuses on French writers of the latter half of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, with the largest segment devoted to Guy de Maupassant (1850-1893); however, both earlier and later materials are also present. This collection is arranged into two series: I. Papers of Artine Artinian 1938-1963, and II. French Literary Manuscripts Collected by Artine Artinian, 1785-1958. The collection was previously accessible through a card catalog, but has been re-cataloged as part of a retrospective conversion project.
Series I contains a single box of Artinian's own personal papers, which have been further subdivided into works and correspondence. The works are primarily composed of drafts for book reviews. The second series comprises the literary works and correspondence of writers collected by Professor Artinian. These are arranged alphabetically by author, and subdivided into works, correspondence and followed by miscellaneous materials, if any. The largest category is devoted to Maupassant, with much of the material the result of Artinian's survey of modern writers concerning the French author's legacy. Other writers represented in this collection include Honoré de Balzac, Gustave Flaubert, Anatole France, Marcel Proust, Rémy de Gourmont, Rachilde, George Sand, Paul Verlaine, and Émile Zola among others. An index of works by authors, as well as an index of correspondents, is provided in the finding aid.

Related Material

Elsewhere in the Ransom Center, additional material from the Artinian Collection may be found in eleven boxes of the Vertical File Collection, which primarily contains newspaper clippings and various other printed matter devoted to Maupassant, Albert Camus, Paul Claudel, and André Gide, among others. Books from Artinian's own collection, some containing his manuscript notes, have been integrated into the Ransom Center's library holdings. In addition, a Félix Potin 500 Célébrités Contemporaines photo album is located in the Photography Collection. Conceived as an early advertising scheme by the Félix Potin grocery chain, the album illustrates the principle personalities, both political and artistic, of the Belle Époque. Furthermore, Artinian's considerable collection of approximately 400 portraits and 500 lithographs, primarily of French writers, is housed in the Ransom Center Art Collection.
Additional papers of and materials collected by Artine Artinian are held at his alma mater, Bowdoin College.

Index Terms

Literary Figures Included

Apollinaire, Guillaume, 1880-1918.
Balzac, Honoré de, 1799-1850.
Baudelaire, Charles, 1821-1867.
Blum, Léon, 1872-1950.
Camus, Albert, 1913-1960.
Claudel, Paul, 1868-1955.
Cocteau, Jean, 1889-1963.
Colette, 1873-1954.
Dumas, Alexandre, 1824-1895.
Eluard, Paul, 1895-1952.
Flaubert, Gustave, 1821-1880.
France, Anatole, 1844-1924.
Gide, André, 1869-1951.
Goncourt, Edmond de, 1822-1896.
Gourmont, Rémy de, 1858-1915.
Hahn, Reynaldo, 1875-1947.
Huysmans, J.-K. (Joris-Karl), 1848-1907.
Jacob, Max, 1876-1944.
Jouvenel, Henry de, 1876-1935.
Lamartine, Alphonse de, 1790-1869.
Maupassant, Guy de, 1850-1893.
Mauriac, François, 1885-1970.
Proust, Marcel, 1871-1922.
Rachilde, 1860-1953.
Sainte-Beuve, Charles Augustin, 1804-1869.
Sand, George, 1804-1876.
Valéry, Paul, 1871-1945.
Verlaine, Paul, 1844-1896.
Willy, 1859-1931.
Yourcenar, Marguerite.
Zola, Émile, 1840-1902.


Bard College.


Authors, French--19th century.
Authors, French--20th century.
Book collectors--France.
Europe--Civilization--19th century.
Europe--Civilization--20th century.
French literature--19th century.
French literature--20th century.

Document Types

Drafts (documents).

Artine Artinian Collection--Folder List