Finding-aid for the Charles Guenther Papers (MSS052)


©2003 University Libraries, Washington University in St. Louis

Department of Special Collections
Olin Library
Campus Box 1061
1 Brookings Drive
St. Louis, MO 63130
(314) 935-5495
Fax: (314) 935-4045
spec@wumail.wustl.edu
http://library.wustl.edu/units/spec


Table of Contents

Collection Outline

Descriptive Summary

Biographical Note

Scope and Contents Note

Restrictions

Administrative Information

Box and Folder Listing


Collection Outline

Series I. Correspondence

Series II. Translations

Series III. Printed Materials

Series IV. Personal Papers

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Descriptive Summary

TitleCharles Guenther Papers
Identification: MSS052

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Biographical Note

Charles Guenther was a poet, critic and translator. Born April 29, 1920 in St. Louis, Missouri, Guenther started writing and translating poetry at age 15 while a student at Roosevelt High School. Upon graduation at age 17, Guenther worked as a copy boy for the St. Louis Star-Times. He graduated from Harris Teachers College, earned a master’s degree at Webster College and did doctoral work in languages at St. Louis University.

During World War II, Guenther translated information for the U.S. Army Air Corps, tracking such details as the opening and closing of foreign runways. He worked at various times as a historian, librarian and supervisory cartographer for the U.S. Air Force. He was employed at the Aeronautical Chart and Information Center of St. Louis for 30 years. Also, Guenther began writing literary reviews for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in 1953, retiring from that position in 2003. He also wrote for the St. Louis Globe-Democrat from 1972 to 1982.

In addition, Guenther taught creative writing and modern literature in St. Louis and at various writer's conferences and read his poetry to college and university audiences. He helped judge several American and international poetry contests and edited several now-defunct little magazines. For 15 years he served as Regional Midwest Vice-President for the Poetry Society of America.

Guenther translated thousands of poems into English from languages such as French, Italian, Spanish, Eskimo, Greek, German and Hungarian. In an essay entitled "Reflections," from the book Three Faces of Autumn, Guenther credits Ezra Pound as an early influence on his work. The two met in 1951 when Guenther visited Pound while he was incarcerated at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington, D.C. He translated into English from such varying poets as Edgar Degas, Paul Valéry, Pablo Neruda, Salvatore Quasimodo and Dante Alighieri. Guenther also extensively translated the works of Garcilaso de la Vega, Juan Ramón Jiménez, Jules Laforgue and Jean Wahl. Many poets were translated into English for the first time by Guenther.

In addition to his translations, Guenther wrote original formal and free verse poetry. His book, Phrase/Paraphrase (1970), was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry. Most of his translations and poetry were published in literary publications, including The American Poetry Review, Black Mountain Review, The Formalist and The Kenyon Review. He died July 24, 2008.

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Scope and Contents Note

Collection includes correspondence, 1964-1970, principally between Guenther and Washington University library officials concerning the placing of Guenther's literary materials. Also included are original poems and poetry translation from the French and German and reprints or copies of selected published articles on E.E. Cummings, Pierre Francois Regnier, an address on poetry given at St. Louis University, and miscellany.

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Restrictions

Access Restrictions

Open.

Use Restrictions

Users of the collections must sign and submit to the Washington University Department of Special Collections a hard copy of the Application for the use of manuscript collection materials form

Users of the collections who wish to use items from this collection, in whole or in part, in any form of publication (as defined in the form) must sign and submit to the Washington University Department of Special Collections a hard copy of the Notification of intent publish manuscript collection materials form.

All publication restricted to those who have permission of the copyright holder.

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Administrative Information

Sources

Gift of Charles Guenther.

Processing

Processed by Washington University Department Special Collections Staff

Accessions: 1170, 18750, 22894

Accruals

Interfiled within collection or by accession at end of collection.

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Box and Folder Listing

Series I. Correspondence

Folder
Mona Van Duyn to Charles Guenther inviting him - as a St. Louis poet of distinction - to contribute manuscripts and worksheets to Washington University. Requests a bibliography of his published works and thanks him for sending her an advance copy of the Library Journal's review of her book. 1964: June 29. Ts.[carbon]. 1 p.
Folder
Charles Guenther to Mona Van Duyn replying that he has 30 cubic feet of manuscripts, correspondence and publications. Lists principal correspondents and adds that he hopes to publish more from his collection before reaching a decision. Remarks that he has no bibliography and offers to submit a few drafts later in the summer. 1964: July 8. T.L.S. 1 p.
Folder
Mona Van Duyn to Charles Guenther thanking him for his co-operation and explaining donor's tax benefits and the library's appraisal arrangement, etc. 1964: July 13. Ts.[carbon] 2 p.
Folder
Charles Guenther to Mona Van Duyn submitting four verse manuscripts and a periodical in which several of his translations appeared. Briefly recounts his earliest publishing experience. 1964: July 15. T.L.S. 1 p.
Folder
William Matheson to Charles Guenther inviting him to submit further materials in the future, and thanking him for his recent contribution. 1964: July 28. Ts.[carbon] 1 p.
Folder
Mona Van Duyn to Charles Guenther apologizing for his not receiving Matheson's July 1964 letter and enclosing a copy. Requests that he contact the student director in order to give a poetry reading at Washington University. 1965: Nov. 19. Ts.[carbon]. 1 p.
Folder
Charles Guenther to Mona Van Duyn thanking her and describing briefly the adult evening class he directs. 1965: Nov. 22. T.L.S. 1 p.
Folder
William Matheson to Charles Guenther cautioning him about weeding his papers and again inviting him to contribute to Washington University. 1967: June 2. Ts.[photocopy] 1 p.
Folder
Charles Guenther to Elsie Freivogel enclosing an article on Cummings he had written, etc. 1967: June 8. T.L.S. 1 p.
Folder
Charles Guenther to William Matheson explaining his position on the disposal of his collections. He suggests that if a university awarded academic credit for his work, he would be more inclined to deposit his materials with that university. Expresses his past disappointment in regard to regognition of his achievements. 1967: June 8. Ts.[photocopy] S. 2 p.
Folder
Elsie Freivogel to Charles Guenther explaining the difficulties in obtaining academic credit and proposing more practical alternatives. Discusses the advantages of a library's safekeeping of collections and encourages Guenther to have a professional appraisal made. Advises him also about literary rights, etc. and additional advantages to an author of placing materials in the care of professionals. 1967: June 13. Ts.[carbon] 2 p.
Folder
Matheson to Charles Guenther offering his services in obtaining appraisal of Guenther's holdings. Thanks him for his recent contributions. 1967: June 14. Ts. [carbon] 1 p.
Folder
Charles Guenther to William Matheson resisting an appraisal with explanation. Declares Washington University is ruled out as a potential recipient and relates instances in which friends destroyed their holdings including letters and manuscripts of Dylan Thomas. Encloses several letters from Marianne Moore. Mentions Coiled Wire group. 1967: June 17. Ts. [photocopy] Signed. 2 p.
Folder
Charles Guenther to Elsie Freivogel with greetings from a writer's conference he is attending. 1967: July 7. A. postal card S.
Folder
Elsie Freivogel to Charles Guenther encouraging him to look further into the possibilities of a University library job, and academic credit. Requests more detailed information on the Coiled Wire group and their periodicle Chronicle. 1967: Sept. 29. Ts. [carbon] 1 p.
Folder
Eilliam Matheson to Charles Guenther thanking him for issues of Coiled Wire Chronicle and requesting further information on persons to contact in order to document the history of the group. 1967: Oct. 4. Ts. [carbon]. 1 p.
Folder
Charles Guenther to William Matheson enclosing names and addresses of local principals in the former Coiled Wire group; mentions others who have since left St. Louis or died. 1967: Oct. 11. Ts. [photocopy] Signed. 1 p.
Folder
William Matheson to Charles Guenther thanking him for the Curled Wire information. 1967: Oct. 17. Ts. [carbon]. 1 p.
Folder
Charles Guenther to Elsie Freivogel with greeting from a conference he is attending. 1968: July 8. A. postalcard S.
Folder
William Matheson to Charles Guenther thanking him for the marked copy of The bulletin of the New York public library. 1969: Apr. 29. Ts. [carbon] 1 p.
Folder
Charles Guenther to Will Wharton thanking him for his generous review of Guenther's book of Paul Valery translations. Encloses translation of Caesar [poem] with explanation for changes. Brief comparison of Valery with Mallarme. 1970: Apr. 27. Ts. [carbon] Signed. 1 p.

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Series II. Translations

Folder
Cemetery by the sea [poem] Translated from the French of Paul Valery. A literal translation into English. 1949. Ms. 12 p.
Folder
Cemetery by the sea [poem] Translated from the French of Paul Valery. Final draft, Ms., heavily revised and corrected. 1949. 12 p.
Folder
Cemetery by the sea [poem] Translated from the French of Paul Valery. Final draft, Ms., heavily revised and corrected. 1949. 12 p.
Folder
Cemetery by the sea [poem] Translated from the French of Paul Valery. Typescript draft. Moderate revision. 1949. Ts. [carbon]. 9 p.
Folder
Cemetery by the sea [poem] Translated from the French of Paul Valery. Typescript. Minor revision, some in the hand of Will Wharton, St. Louis poet and reviewer. 1949. Ts. 8 p.
Folder
Caesar [poem] Translated from the French of Paul Valery. Heavily revised Enclosed with letter to Will Wharton n.d. [1970] Apr. 27, 1970. Ts., ts. [carbon]. 2 drafts. 2 p.
Folder
Suddenly day distended [poem] Heavily revised Appended note by Guenther states that poem inspired by Baudelaire's pantoum. Minor correction. [1940] [1960] Ts. [carbon] One draft. 1 p.
Folder
The strawberries [poem] Translated from the French of Tristan Der�me. Published in in Western Humanities Review. Minor correction. [1947] [1955] Ts. one draft. 1 p.
Folder
Avec ton parapluie [poem] Translated from the French of Francis Jammes. Heavy revision and correction. Appended note by Guenther states poem published, but time and place unknown. [1939] Ts. one draft. 1 p.
Folder
The clown; Interior portrait [poems] Translated by Charles Guenther; The clown from the French of Paul Verlaine; Interior portrait from R.M. Rilke's Vergers. Published in unknown Canadian magazine, Contact(?) [1940] Ts. 2 drafts. 1 p.
Folder
Six poems of Paul Valery and a sonnet of Edgar Degas, translated by Charles Guenther. Valery poems entitled, Cemetery by the sea, Helen, Orpheus, The caress, Bather, The poetry lover, and the Degas poem called The dancer. Typescript, bound, and distributed to friends in the Curled Wire group. [c.1953-1955] 22 p.

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Series III. Printed Materials

Folder
Offprints, Tear Sheets, etc
What makes a poet? by Charles Guenther. Extracts from an address given at St. Louis University reprinted in Missouri Library Association Quarterly (vol. xxii, no 1, Duplicated. 1960. Apr. 3, 1960, Mar. 1961). 6 p. (3 copies)
An early St. Louis poet: Pierre Francois Regnier by Charles Guenther. Reprinted from The French in the Mississippi Valley, edited by John Francis McDermott, (University of Illinois Press). 1965. 19 p. (4 copies)
Includes three brochures from The French in the Mississippi Valley conference, February 13-15, 1964.
I was sitting on the prose; and To American Negro soldiers [poems] by Leopold Sedar Senghor, translated by Charles Guenther. Printed in Focus/Midwest (Vol. III, No. 8 and 9) [1965] 1 p. 1 item.
Three letters of Paul Verlaine by Charles Guenther. Reprinted from Discourse, 1960. October 1960. 1 item
Bulletin of the New York Public Library October 1968. 1 item
Poetry Center Speaking, Volume VIII:4 January 1971 1 item
Curled Wire Chronicle, Volume II, Number 1 September 1954. 1 item
Curled Wire Chronicle, Volume II, Number 4 December-January 1954-1955. 1 item
Now Take This Rose: Three sonnets and an ode by Pierre de Ronsard. Translated from the French by Guenther. 1983. 1 item
Even the Rose...:A sonnet by Garcilaso de la Vega. Translated from the Spanish by Guenther. 1984. 1 item
Retreat Among the Roses by Juan Ramon Jimenez. Translated from the Spanish by Guenther. 1984. 1 item
Folder
Photocopies
Consists of photocopies of work by Guenther or about Guenther.

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Series IV. Personal Papers

Folder
Webster College commencement program May 1974

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