Ariel Dorfman

Ariel Dorfman

Walter Hines Page Research Professor Emeritus of Literature

External address: 
1316 Campus Drive, 101 Friedl Building, Durham, NC 27708
Internal office address: 
Box 90670, 1316 Campus Drive, 101 Friedl, Durham, NC 27708-0670
(919) 684-6605

Walter Hines Page Research Professor of Literature and Latin American Studies; has a Licenciatura in Comparative Literature from the Universidad de Chile, Santiago, 1965. He has taught at the Universidad de Chile, the Sorbonne (Paris IV) and the University of Amsterdam. His major publications include the essays, How to Read Donald Duck (in collaboration with Armand Mattlelart, 1971), The Empire's Old Clothes (1983), and Someone Writes to the Future: Essays on Contemporary Latin American Fiction (1991). He is also the author of a collection of poetry, Last Waltz in Santiago and Other Poems of Exile and Disappearance (1988), and In Case of Fire in a Foreign Land: New and Collected Poems from Two Languages (2002), and the memoir, Heading South, Looking North: A Bilingual Journey (1998). His novels include Widows (1983), The Last Song of Manuel Sendero (1986), Mascara (1988), Hard Rain (1990), Konfidenz (1995), The Nanny and the Iceburg (1999), and Blake's Therapy (2001). His plays include Widows (which won a New American Plays Award from the Kennedy Center), and Reader (winner of the Roger L. Stevens Award from the Kennedy Center) which is in production world wide. Death and the Maiden, winner of many awards and also in production worldwide, was made into a Roman Polanski film. Mascara (with son, Rodrigo Dorfman), premiered in Bonn in 1998, and Who's Who (also with Rodrigo Dorfman) premiered in Frankfurt in 1998. He also has created a collection of his plays, The Resistance Trilogy, which includes Death and the Maiden, Reader, and Widows. His most recent non-fiction works include Exorcising Terror: The Incredible, Unending Trial of General Augusto Pinochet (2002), Other Septembers, Many Americas (2004), Desert Memories: Journeys through the Chilean North (2004), and he collaborated on the novel The Burning City, with his youngest son, Joaquin Dorfman. His latest plays include The Other Side and Purgatorio. A documentary feature film based on his life, "A Promise to the Dead: the Exile Journey of Ariel Dorfman," was directed by Peter Raymont in 2007 and shortlisted for an Academy Award for Best Documentary. He has recently begun to work with composers, writing the libretto (in verse) for an operatic version of Death and the Maiden (music by Jonas Forssell), which premiered at Malmo in September of 2008; and the book for Dancing Shadows (music by Eric Woolfson, lead singer and composer of the Alan Parsons Project), which opened in Seoul in July 2007 and went on to win five Korean Tonys. He is currently working on another opera, with the Scottish composer Nigel Osborne, based on a legend of the Upanishads. He has just completed Feeding on Dreams: Confessions of an Uurepentant Exile, the second volume of his memoirs, which will Houghton Mifflin Harcourt will publish in Fall 2011. Prof. Dorfman continues to write regularly for many of the most important newspapers and magazines in the US and abroad, and in 2010 delivered the 8th Annual Nelson Mandela Lecture in Johannesburg, South Africa.


  • Ph.D., University of Chile 1965

Dorfman, A. In Case of Fire in a Foreign Land (poetry). Duke University Press, 2002.

Dorfman, A. Blake’s Therapy. Seven Stories Press, 2001.

Dorfman, A. The Rabbit’s Rebellion. Transworld, 2001.

Dorfman, A. The Nanny and the Iceberg. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, January 1999.

Dorfman, A. Heading South, Looking North: A Bilingual Journey. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1998.

Dorfman, A. The Resistance Trilogy. Nick Hern Books Limited, 1998.

Dorfman, A. The Resistance Trilogy. Nick Hern Books Limited, 1998.

Dorfman, A. Heading South, Looking North: A Bilingual Journey. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1998.

Dorfman, A. Widows (play). Nick Hern Books Limited, 1997.

Dorfman, A. Reader. Nick Hern Books, London, 1995.


Dorfman, A. "Afterword: Where the Buried Flame Burns." Poems from Guantanamo: The Detainees Speak. Ed. M Falkoff. University of Iowa Press, July 2007.

Dorfman, A. "Breaking Down the Glass Walls of Language." How I Learned English. Ed. T Miller. National Geographic Books, 2007. 217-220.

Dorfman, A. "The Missing and Photography: The Uses and Misuses of Globalization." Spontaneous Shrines and the Public Memorialization of Death. Ed. J Santino. Palgrave Macmillan, April 2006. 255-260.

Dorfman, A. "The Tyranny of Torture: Is Torture Inevitable in Our Century and Beyond?." Torture: A Collection. Ed. S Levinson. Oxford University Press, 2004. 3-18.


Dorfman, A. "How Harold Pinter's Kindness Saved My Play." The Daily Telegraph (October 2011). (Academic Article)

Dorfman, A. "Death and the Maiden's Haunting Relevance." London Guardian (October 2011). (Academic Article)

Dorfman, A. "Epitaph for Another September 11th." The Nation (September 2011). (Academic Article)

Dorfman, A. "My Lost Library." Chronicle of Higher Education (September 2011).

Dorfman, A. "The Other 9-11." Granta (September 2011). (Academic Article)

Dorfman, A. "Losing Superman." Los Angeles Times (May 2011). (Academic Article)

Dorfman, A. "Ghosts of Chile." Los Angeles Times (March 2011). (Academic Article)

Dorfman, A. "Conversations with a myth." Nation 292.2-3 (January 10, 2011): 24-26.


Dorfman, A. "Waving the Star Spanglish Banner." Washington post (Washington, D.C. : 1974) (May 7, 2006). (Scholarly Commentary)

Dorfman, A. "Stew." Ed. E Ensler. Daedalus Fall (2006): 105-107. (Short Story)

Dorfman, A. "Gringos." Subtropics 1 (2006): 119-127. (Short Story)

Rousuck, JW, and Dorfman A, . "Playwright Dorfman puts a face on Torture." Baltimore Sun (2006).

Dorfman, A. "Death and the Maiden." (2006).

Dorfman, A. "Picasso’s Closet." (2006).

Dorfman, A. "Death and the Maiden." (2006).

Dorfman, A. "William Blake has Words from the Other Side of Death for Laura Bush." Ed. B Ramm. The Liberal IV (2005): 40-41.

Penkava, M, and Dorfman A, . "Ariel Dorfman speaks about Purgatorio." WUNC The State of Things (2005).

Dorfman, A. "Chilean writer brings his plays to the world." The Santiago Times (2005).


Who' Who. Writer. (1998)


With Rodrigo Dofman. Premiered in Germany,

My House Is On Fire. Writer. (1997)


Co-directed and co-written with Rodrigo Dorfman. Based on story written by Ariel Dorfman. A short film.

Mascara. Writer. (1996)


Adapted with Rodrigo Dorfman. Based on the novel of the same name. Workshopped at the Arizona Theater Company. Premier, 1996. 1998, Bonn.

Prisoners in Time. Writer. (1995)


With Rodrigo Dorfman. BBC teleplay. Worldwide 1995- 1996. Starring John Hurt. 1995 Writer's Guild of Great Britain award for Best Feature Film (TV category).

Death and the Maiden. Writer. (1991)


After a workshop production in Chile in March, 1991, the play had its world premiere at the Royal Court Theatre (Upstairs) in London in July 1991, and opened on Broadway in 1992. The play has been performed in more than 100 countries to date and is also used as a teaching tool in many classrooms in schools and universities in the United States, Canada, and Europe. England: winner of the Time Out award as Best Play of the Year and the Sir Lawrence Oliver Award as Best Play of the Year for 1991. Korea: 29th Dong Award for Best Play in 1992-93 theatrical season. Japan: 1999 award for Best Play in Translation.

Widows. Writer. (1988)


Based on the novel of the same name. premiered in the Williamstown Theatre Festival. Adapted as a radioplay, BBC; Alternative Theatre Festival, Israel 1987; first prize. The Kennedy Center/American Express New Plays Award, 1988. New version, written with Tony Kushner, premiered main stage, Mark Taper Forum, 1991. Staged in Japan, Israel, Sri Lanka, Turkey, England, Scotland and Chile.