Ariel Dorfman, the acclaimed Chilean-American writer, human rights activist and international figure, will place his archive with Duke University, school officials announced Tuesday.
Dorfman holds the Walter Hines Page Chair of Literature and Latin American Studies at Duke, where he has taught since 1985. His award-winning novels, essays and poetry, written both in Spanish and English, have been translated into more than 40 languages.
At 4 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 5, Dorfman will read from his new memoir, "Feeding on Dreams: Confessions of an Unrepentant Exile," in the Gothic Reading Room of Perkins Library on Duke's West Campus. The reading is free and open to the public.
"Ariel Dorfman is one of the most important voices in literature today, especially the literature of social engagement," said Deborah Jakubs, Rita DiGiallonardo Holloway University Librarian and Vice Provost for Library Affairs at Duke. "His books, plays and essays reflect some of the thorniest issues of our time. It is fitting that his life's work should be preserved here at Duke, where it will continue to speak to future generations about the role of the artist in defending human rights and seeking justice."
Dorfman was a member of Salvador Allende's administration in Chile and went into exile when Augusto Pinochet seized power in 1973. Since then, his writings have often examined human rights abuses, the impact of totalitarian ideology, the experience of life in exile, memory and identity, as well as the dilemmas of bilingualism and globalization.
Dorfman was active in the resistance to the Pinochet regime and has continued to work with human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
Dorfman's life is documented in his papers, which include extensive correspondence and email; manuscript drafts of his novels, essays, plays, poetry and other writings; notebooks; journals; photographs, films and video recordings; digital files; and many other materials. They will be deposited in Duke's recently renamed David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, where they will they will join the literary papers of other noted authors such as Reynolds Price, Anne Tyler and William Styron, as well as related collections in Duke's Archive for Human Rights.
The Ariel Dorfman papers will be available to researchers after they have been prepared for research use by Will Hansen, the associate curator of collections.
"I will never forget how Duke provided a home for me and my family during the darkest days of the Chilean dictatorship, and then gave us refuge yet again when we felt it necessary to leave a recently democratic Chile in 1991," Dorfman said. "What better place, therefore, to deposit the books and papers that attest to my struggle to make sense of our times than the wonderful Duke library, so close to where I have been writing for over 25 years and closer even to my heart? I am only transferring my archive from my personal home to the vaster home that Duke has become."
Although Newsweek magazine has been called him "one of the greatest living Latin American novelists," Dorfman is perhaps best known for his plays, which have been staged in more than 100 countries and won numerous international awards.
Among his most famous plays is "Death and the Maiden," which recounts the encounter of a former torture victim with the man she believes tortured her. It received the Olivier Award in London and had a successful Broadway run before being made into a film in 1994. The play is being revived this year on London's West End.