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Tarn (Nathaniel) papers
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Scope and Content
  • Biography
  • Preferred Citation:
  • Provenance
  • Access Restrictions
  • Publication Rights
  • Processing Information

  • Language of Material: English
    Contributing Institution: Department of Special Collections and University Archives
    Title: Nathaniel Tarn papers
    Creator: Tarn, Nathaniel
    Identifier/Call Number: M1132
    Physical Description: 82.21 Linear Feet (186 manuscript boxes, 1 card box, 2 half boxes, 1 carton, 2 flat boxes, 4 VHS, 8 CDs, and 6 16mm film reels)
    Date (inclusive): circa 1939-2014

    Scope and Content

    The Nathaniel Tarn Papers are a particularly rich collection of materials, gathered over nearly sixty years of Tarn's highly-varied and well-respected career. The Papers include manuscripts of his published and unpublished poetry and prose, notebooks from his anthropological fieldwork, and correspondence with his personal friends, literary colleagues, and fellow anthropologists. Also included are audio-visual material and ephemera, as well as a complete set of his publications, in book as well as in periodical form. The collection arrived at Stanford accompanied by Tarn's own detailed listing of the contents, organized into three main series: Books and Manuscripts; Literary Correspondence; and, Anthropology and General Scholarship. To this end, Tarn's original organization and description is duplicated verbatim, with only a few minor editorial corrections changing the text. Unlisted and un-described materials found in the original accession, along with material added subsequently, have been inserted where deemed appropriate. Folder titles and descriptive text added during the processing of the Papers appear within brackets, typically with an explanatory statement. In addition, a fourth series was created for a separate listing of Audio-Visual Materials for tapes, compact disks, and film not originally listed or described by Tarn. Scope and content of the particular series follow below.
    The 2006-2011 accessions consist of correspondence, notebooks, poems, diaries, calendars, daybooks, unpublished prose, books, journals, Avia drafts and related materials, Scandals in the House of Birds materials and typescript, miscellaneous drafts and proofs, cds, reel to reel film, Nathaniel Tarn's Ph.D. thesis, and some of Tarn's teaching materials.


    Nathaniel Tarn was born in Paris, France in 1928. His childhood in Belgium was disrupted in 1939, when the threat of World War II prompted the family's removal to England. After graduating in history and English from King's College, Cambridge, Tarn studied anthropology, first at the Sorbonne and then as a Smith-Mundt-Fulbright Scholar at the University of Chicago, where he completed his doctoral degree based on fieldwork in the Mayan region of Guatemala. Further work in anthropology followed, with extensive research on Buddhist culture in Burma. Upon his return to England, Tarn received a teaching appointment to the London School of Economics, followed by a professorship at the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). In addition to his expertise in the Highland Maya area and South East Asia, Tarn has also worked in the Himalayan region, China, Japan, Cuba, and Alaska.
    After publishing his first volume of poetry Old Savage/Young City in 1964 and a celebrated translation of Pablo Neruda's The Heights of Macchu Picchu in 1966, Tarn decided to concentrate his energies on literature. He served as the General Editor of Cape Editions and the Founding Editor of Cape-Goliard Press in London from 1967 until 1969, then returned to the United States in 1970. Two years later he accepted a professorship in comparative literature at Rutgers, which he held until his retirement in 1985. Today he lives outside Santa Fe, New Mexico, remaining a creative and energetic force in modern poetry and the study of world literature.
    As poet, essayist, translator, and editor, Tarn has published some twenty-five books, including an anthology of his collected essays in literary and cultural criticism, Views from the Weaving Mountain (1991). He is the recipient of numerous awards including the Guinness prize (1963), Wenner Gren fellowship (1978, 1980), Commonwealth of Pennsylvania fellowship (1984), and a Rockefeller Foundation fellowship.

    Preferred Citation:

    [Identification of item], Nathaniel Tarn Papers , M1132, Dept. of Special Collections, Stanford University Libraries, Stanford, Calif.


    Purchased, 2000. Accessions purchased 01/2001, 05/2011, 08/2011, and 05/2015.

    Access Restrictions

    The materials are open for research use. Audio-visual materials are not available in original format, and must be reformatted to a digital use copy.

    Publication Rights

    All requests to reproduce, publish, quote from, or otherwise use collection materials must be submitted in writing to the Head of Special Collections and University Archives, Stanford University Libraries, Stanford, California 94304-6064. Consent is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission from the copyright owner. Such permission must be obtained from the copyright owner, heir(s) or assigns. See: http://library.stanford.edu/depts/spc/pubserv/permissions.html.
    Restrictions also apply to digital representations of the original materials. Use of digital files is restricted to research and educational purposes.

    Processing Information

    Series 1-4 processed by Bill O'Hanlon in 2001; Series 6 & 7 processed by Diana Kohnke in 2011. Series 9 processed by Malgorzata Schaeffer in 2015.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Ethnology -- Guatemala
    Poetry, modern -- 20th. century.
    American literature -- 20th century.
    Tarn, Nathaniel