The papers of a distinguished American literary figure. Reznikoff was a prolific writer of poetry, prose, essays, and chronicler
of Judaism and the American Jewish experience. He worked both as an editor and contributing author on
The Menorah Journal and
Family Chronicle, and was in close association with such noted writers as Ezra Pound, George Oppen, and William Carlos Williams. The correspondence,
which provides documentation of the literary community of 40s, 50s, and 60s America, as well as providing insights into Reznikoff's
personal life, includes letters from Robert Creeley, David Ignatow, Denise Levertov, George Oppen, John Perlman, Willilam
Carlos Williams, and Louis Zukofsky. Also included are the various exchanges between Reznikoff and his numerous publishers.
The bulk of the collection consists of Reznikoff's writings, ranging from original source materials up to finished typescripts,
and includes thousands of pages of revisions. Most of the materials in the collection date from the 1940's to the early 1970's.
The 1989 addition to the Reznikoff papers consists primarily of letters written by Reznikoff to his wife Marie Syrkin between
1928 and 1939. Also included are Reznikoff's letter of will to his wife dated 1961; letters of condolence to Marie following
the poet's death in 1976; and several miscellaneous correspondences. In addition, Reznikoff's personal copies (with annotations)
of eight of his published works have been included. The 1991 addition to the Reznikoff papers contains personal letters from
Reznikoff to Marie Syrkin written in 1930 before their marriage; financial records which detail Reznikoff's activities between
1947 and 1976; and miscellaneous memorabilia.
Charles Reznikoff's long and productive life began 31 August 1894 in Brooklyn, New York. His parents, Nathan Reznikoff and
Sarah Yetta Wolvovsky Reznikoff, were Russian Jews who had recently immigrated to the United States. Reznikoff's family moved
throughout the city, and the anti Semitism which Charles often encountered had a lasting effect on his work. When he was twelve
Reznikoff's family moved to a section of Brooklyn that was isolated from the Jewish community; Reznikoff once described it
as a place where "the hatred for Israel smoldered." He later wrote that he would have to rush home from high school in order
to avoid the taunts of children leaving their grade school.