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Charles Guenther Papers


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Personal Papers

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Charles Guenther Papers, 1949-1984 | MS Manuscripts

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Collection Overview

Title: Charles Guenther Papers, 1949-1984Add to your cart.

Predominant Dates:1949-1984

ID: MS/MS/ms052

Primary Creator: Guenther, Charles (1920-2008)

Extent: 1.0 Boxes

Date Acquired: 04/28/1970

Languages: English

Scope and Contents of the Materials

The Charles Guenther Papers 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.

Collection Historical 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-Democratfrom 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.

Administrative Information

Repository: MS Manuscripts

Access Restrictions: Open

Use Restrictions:

Users of the collection must read and agree to abide by the rules and procedures set forth in the Materials Use Policies.

Providing access to materials does not constitute permission to publish or otherwise authorize use. All publication not covered by fair use or other exceptions is restricted to those who have permission of the copyright holder, which may or may not be Washington University.

If you wish to publish or license Special Collections materials, please contact Special Collections to inquire about copyright status at (314) 935-5495 or spec@wumail.wustl.edu. (Publish means quotation in whole or in part in seminar or term papers, theses or dissertations, journal articles, monographs, books, digital forms, photographs, images, dramatic presentations, transcriptions, or any other form prepared for a limited or general public.)

Acquisition Source: Gift of Charles Guenther

Acquisition Method:

Accession number 1182, April 28, 1970.

Accession number 1416, June 3, 1974.

Accession number 1875, December 1990.

Accession number 18750, October 17, 2003

Preferred Citation: Name of the Collection, Washington University Libraries, Department of Special Collections

Box and Folder Listing

Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Correspondence],
[Series 2: Translations],
[Series 3: Printed Materials],
[Series 4: Personal Papers],

Series 1: CorrespondenceAdd to your cart.
Box 1Add to your cart.
Folder 1Add to your cart.
Item 1: Mona Van Duyn to Charles Guenther inviting him - as a St. Louis poet of distinction - to contribute manuscripts and worksheets to Washington University, 1964: June 29Add to your cart.
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. (Typescript [carbon], 1 page)
Item 2: Charles Guenther to Mona Van Duyn replying that he has 30 cubic feet of manuscripts, correspondence and publications, 1964: July 8.Add to your cart.
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. (Type Letter Signed, 1 page)
Item 3: 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.Add to your cart.
(Typescript [carbon], 2 pages)
Item 4: Charles Guenther to Mona Van Duyn submitting four verse manuscripts and a periodical in which several of his translations appeared, 1964: July 15.Add to your cart.
(Typed Letter Signed, 1 page)
Item 5: William Matheson to Charles Guenther inviting him to submit further materials in the future, and thanking him for his recent contribution, 1964: July 28.Add to your cart.
(Typescript [carbon], 1 page)
Item 6: Mona Van Duyn to Charles Guenther apologizing for his not receiving Matheson's July 1964 letter and enclosing a copy, 1965: November19.Add to your cart.
Requests that he contact the student director in order to give a poetry reading at Washington University.
Item 7: Charles Guenther to Mona Van Duyn thanking her and describing briefly the adult evening class he directs, 1965: November 22.Add to your cart.
(Typed Letter Signed, 1 page)
Item 8: William Matheson to Charles Guenther cautioning him about weeding his papers and again inviting him to contribute to Washington University, 1967: June 2.Add to your cart.
(Typescript [photocopy], 1 page)
Item 9: Charles Guenther to Elsie Freivogel enclosing an article on Cummings he had written, etc., 1967: June 8.Add to your cart.
(Typed Letter Signed, 1 page)
Item 10: Charles Guenther to William Matheson explaining his position on the disposal of his collections, 1967: June 8.Add to your cart.
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. (Typescript [photocopy] Signed, 2 pages)
Item 11: Elsie Freivogel to Charles Guenther explaining the difficulties in obtaining academic credit and proposing more practical alternatives, 1967: June 13.Add to your cart.
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. (Typescript [carbon], 2 pages)
Item 12: Matheson to Charles Guenther offering his services in obtaining appraisal of Guenther's holdings, 1967: June 14.Add to your cart.
Thanks him for his recent contributions. (Typescript [carbon], 1 page)
Item 13: Charles Guenther to William Matheson resisting an appraisal with explanation, 1967: June 17.Add to your cart.
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. (Typescript [photocopy] signed, 2 pages)
Item 14: Charles Guenther to Elsie Freivogel with greetings from a writer's conference he is attending, 1967: July 7.Add to your cart.
(Autograph postal card, signed)
Item 15: Elsie Freivogel to Charles Guenther encouraging him to look further into the possibilities of a University library job, and academic credit, 1967: September 29.Add to your cart.
Requests more detailed information on the Coiled Wire group and their periodicle Chronicle. (Typescript [carbon], 1 page)
Item 16: 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: October 4.Add to your cart.
(Typescript, [carbon], 1 page)
Item 17: 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: October 11.Add to your cart.
(Typescript, [photocopy] Signed, 1 page)
Item 18: William Matheson to Charles Guenther thanking him for the Curled Wire information, 1967: October 17.Add to your cart.
(Typescript [carbon], 1 page)
Item 19: Charles Guenther to Elsie Freivogel with greeting from a conference he is attending, 1968: July 8.Add to your cart.
(Autograph postalcard Signed)
Item 20: William Matheson to Charles Guenther thanking him for the marked copy of The bulletin of the New York public library, 1969: April 29.Add to your cart.
(Typescript [carbon], 1 page)
Item 21: Charles Guenther to Will Wharton thanking him for his generous review of Guenther's book of Paul Valery translations, 1970: Apr. 27.Add to your cart.
Encloses translation of Caesar [poem] with explanation for changes. Brief comparison of Valery with Mallarme. (Typescript [carbon] Signed, 1 page)

Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Correspondence],
[Series 2: Translations],
[Series 3: Printed Materials],
[Series 4: Personal Papers],

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