Joseph Heller, ca. 1954
The Joseph Heller Archive brings to the University of South Carolina's Thomas Cooper Library the comprehensive record of Mr. Heller's literary career over a period of more than thirty years. Its contents range in date from the mid-1960s, with early drafts for his novel Something Happened and his play We Bombed in New Haven, to the 1990s, with his final revisions for his most recent novel Closing Time.
Mr. Heller preserved extensive files from all stages of a book's composition, and the Archive totals over 300 separate file folders and over 150,000 pages of notes, outlines, research, drafts, edited typescripts, proofs, correspondence, and reviews. The Archive documents the detailed crafting of six major books in extraordinary detail, showing the creative interaction between one of America's most distinguished contemporary novelists and the publishing process.
Highlights of the Joseph Heller Archive include:
- the very first handwritten 100-page draft for Heller's Something Happened
- manuscript and edited typescript from Heller's dramatization ofCatch-22
- five early screen collaborations dating from the 1950s
- file boxes of the distinctive index cards that Heller used to plot his novel God Forbid, later retitled God Knows, and other books
- detailed records on late proof changes to Heller's No Laughing Matter, with his own notes from telephone conversations with his editor and his two-page outline for finishing the book
- research files on the artist Rembrandt and other figures gathered in preparation for Heller's novel Poetics, later renamed Picture This
- Heller's correspondence with fellow-veterans as he drafted hisUntitled Novel [Yossarian], revised as Closing Time
For each book, the Archive contains many hundreds of pages charting Heller's creative process stage by stage through to publication. The Archive will provide a uniquely rich resource both for scholarly research on Joseph Heller's work and for introducing students to the world of writing and publishing at the highest level.