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Robert Stone papers

Collection Data

Description
Robert Stone was an award-winning American novelist and screen writer. His works include A Hall of Mirrors, Dog Soldiers, A Flag for Sunrise, Children of Light, and Outerbridge Reach. The Robert Stone papers date from 1950 to 2013, and consist of notes, typescript drafts (on paper and computer disk), galleys, and proof pages for all of Stone's novels; shorter pieces and excerpts from the novels in draft, galley, and published form; reviews and publicity material; and general correspondence. Typescript drafts of Stone's novels comprise the bulk of the papers and reflect his method of composition. Later drafts, galleys, and proofs document the books' progress up to the point of publication. Most of the correspondence are letters received by Stone and document his career as a novelist.
Names
Stone, Robert, 1937-2015 (Creator)
Dates / Origin
Date Created: 1950 - 2012
Library locations
Manuscripts and Archives Division
Shelf locator: MssCol 2894
Topics
Authors
Journalists
Screenwriters
Authors, American
Drug abuse
Drug traffic
Journalists
Nineteen sixties
Short stories, American
Vietnam
New Orleans (La.)
Saigon (Vietnam)
Stanford (Calif.)
Genres
Correspondence
Typescripts
Manuscripts
Proofs
Fiction
Notes
Biographical/historical: Over his career, Robert Stone has received most of the accolades and awards possible for a contemporary novelist, he has been called the best writer of the post-Vietnam era, and his novels have enjoyed commercial success as well as critical acclaim. Often compared to Conrad's for their darkness, to Vonnegut's for their cynicism, Stone's books focus on the sordid aspects of modern life: drugs, alcoholism, sexual perversion, violence, moral, and political corruption. They suggest no potential (satisfactory) resolution of the conflicts confronted by his characters, nor do they offer much hope of anyone's overcoming the basic human dilemmas faced by these characters. While he has some roots in the counter-culture, Stone does not see himself as a leftist, radical, or progressive. He believes his work is an attempt to foster "the awareness of ironies and continuities, showing people that being decent is really hard and that we carry within ourselves our own worst enemy." Robert Anthony Stone was born on August 21, 1937 in Brooklyn, New York. His father abandoned Stone and his mother, a schizophrenic grammar school teacher who was in and out of hospitals, when Stone was still an infant. He lived at a Catholic boarding school until he was nine, then spent the next eight years living with his mother in rooming houses and SRO hotels on Manhattan's West Side. When he was 17, Stone dropped out of high school and joined the Navy. After leaving the Navy in 1958, Stone enrolled at New York University from which he also dropped out. While working the night shift as a copy-boy at the Daily News, Stone began writing and reading poetry, catching the "tail-end" of the beat scene in the Greenwich Village. In 1959 he met and married his wife Janice G. Burr. The couple moved to New Orleans the next year, where they worked odd jobs, had a daughter (Deidre), and lived the poor life. New Orleans became the setting of Stone's first novel A Hall of Mirrors. In 1961, the Stones moved back to New York City where Stone wrote furniture ads and began his first novel. On the strength its first chapter, Stone was offered a fellowship at Wallace Stegner's Stanford writing seminar. In California, Stone continued work on Children of Light (A Hall of Mirrors' working title and later the title of Stone's fourth novel); began his lifelong friendship with Ken Kesey; regularly consumed hallucinogenics and narcotics; and crossed the country with Kesey's group of Merry Pranksters in a bus driven by Neal Cassady. (Tom Wolfe immortalized the trip in his The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test.) The first half of Stone's novel earned him a Houghton Mifflin literary fellowship, which provided Stone with financial support while he finished the manuscript. The book was published in 1967 and received the William Faulkner Foundation's prize for best first novel of the year. Stone later adapted the book for film; the result was an unsuccessful movie, WUSA starring Paul Newman. The critical success of A Hall of Mirrors earned Stone a Guggenheim fellowship and numerous job offers from universities. From 1971 to 1985 Stone was steadily employed as a writer in residence or instructor at several universities around the United States, including Amherst (where the Stones settled), Stanford, University of Hawaii, Harvard, University of California Irvine and San Diego. After the publication of A Hall of Mirrors, however, the Stone family (now with a second child, Ian) moved to London where they remained until 1971. In 1971, the British bi-weekly Ink sent Stone to Vietnam as its correspondent. The magazine soon folded but Stone remained for six weeks, his articles for Ink appearing in the Manchester Guardian (see Box 21, f.8). More importantly, while in Vietnam Stone witnessed the dealings of Saigon's heroin and gold black market. This underworld, predominately inhabited by foreign diplomats and journalists, became the backdrop for Stone's second novel Dog Soldiers. It is a story of an American journalist's attempt to smuggle heroin from Vietnam to the United States. After his time in Saigon, Stone returned to the United States, as a writer in residence at Princeton, and began work on Dog Soldiers. It was published in 1974 and won the National Book Award. The book was eventually made into the movie Who'll Stop the Rain? starring Nick Nolte. Stone co-wrote the screenplay (see Box 8, f.4-5) with Judith Rascoe. Who'll Stop the Rain? was not a box office success; however, it received some critical acclaim. Like Dog Soldiers, Stone's next novel, A Flag for Sunrise (1981), was inspired by a trip. This time Stone visited Central America. The novel takes place in the imaginary Latin American country of Tecan (part Nicaragua, part El Salvador). Its cast of characters (CIA operatives, revolutionaries, secret police, Catholic missionaries etc.) and plot anticipate the unfolding of various Central American conflicts during the 1980s. Stone's next book, Children of Light (1986), explored the movie world in Hollywood. It grew out of Stone's frustrations in adapting his own novels for the screen. This novel was the least well received of Stone's novels: many critics felt it lacked the scope and broad social relevance of his other three. Outerbridge Reach (1992) is the story of a man's participation in a solo circumnavigation competition as he struggles through the midst of a mid-life crisis. It is loosely based upon the experiences of a British sailor, Donald Crowhurst, who entered such a race in 1965. Stone continued to write and publish novels, short stories, and articles until 2013. These novels include Damascus Gate (1998), Bay of Souls (2003), and Death of the Black Haired Girl (2013). The 1997 short story collection Bear and His Daughter was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and his next collection of short stories, Fun with Problems, was published in 2013. In 2007, Stone published a memoir, Prime Green: Remembering the Sixties, in which he recounts the 1960s counterculture and his friendship with Ken Kesey. He also wrote numerous articles, reviews, and short stories for such publications as The New Yorker, Harper's, The New York Review of Books, Rolling Stone, and Playboy. Robert Stone died in Key West, Florida in 2015.
Content: The Robert Stone papers date from 1950 to 2012, and consist of notes, typescript drafts, galleys, and proof pages for all of Stone's novels. Also present are shorter pieces and excerpts from the novels in draft, galley, and published form; reviews and publicity material; and general correspondence. Typescript drafts of Stone's novels comprise the bulk of the papers and reflect his method of composition. Later drafts, galleys, and proofs document the books' progress up to the point of publication. Most of the correspondence are letters received by Stone and document his career as a novelist.
Acquisition: Purchased from Robert Stone in 1994. Additions purchased in 2002, 2012 and 2015 from Robert's widow Janice Stone.
Physical Description
Extent: 23.39 linear feet (57 boxes); 10.77 mb (455 computer files)
Type of Resource
Text
Identifiers
NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b15026117
MSS Unit ID: 2894
Archives collections id: archives_collections_2894
Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): 73f36ad0-d806-0137-6c02-1d18927dd867
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