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David Foster Wallace News and Resources Since March 97

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Home News by Category DFW Archive Why There Were Changes to the Wallace Archive

Why There Were Changes to the Wallace Archive

We've run a few pieces recently about some changes to the David Foster Wallace archive at the Harry Ransom Center. After an email conversation with Bonnie Nadell, Wallace's literary agent, I think it's important to clarify what has changed so we can understand the context and reasoning for why these decisions were made.
Over to Bonnie Nadell (reproduced with her permission):

Karen and I went to see the archives for the first time in July. In those first months after David died, the Ransom Center had approached us about buying the archives; Karen had to get out of the house where she and David lived in Claremont and in the craziness of grief and the mess of packing up the books into boxes to send to the archives, we made some mistakes. We found out there were books included that David had bought at garage sales or were given to him with writing in them so scholars in the archives might think they were reading David's thoughts/critiques on Mill on the Floss and they were actually some stranger's. Those books got taken out of the library or now have notes on them with an explanation. There were others that had people's cell phone numbers and home addresses that David had written in books so now the personal information is covered over or those pages copied and removed. And yes we did decide to restrict some of the self help books that were pored over and written about on the Awl. As some people have realized, these were really personal comments about family members (written years ago) and are private. Having a person's library with paperback books and writing in them as part of an archive is a new thing really and we did not realize how much personal and private information was in them. For the peace of mind and privacy of David's family these things are now restricted. It's a matter of privacy, to me. These are not public figures, their lives are not meant to be discussed on the internet.

Thanks, Bonnie.


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