Ariel Dorfman

Ariel Dorfman

Walter Hines Page Distinguished 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 (Chile) 1965

Selected Grants

Hide and Seek Film awarded by Mary Duke Biddle Foundation (Principal Investigator). 1997

South to South: A Symposium on Translating the Literatures of Latin America and the Southern United States awarded by Josiah Charles Trent Memorial Foundation (Principal Investigator). 1994 to 1995

Dorfman, A. Allegro (Spanish). Stella Maris, 2015.

Dorfman, Ariel. Death and the Maiden. 2011.

Dorfman, A. Feeding on Dreams: Confessions of an Unrepentant Exile. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011.

Dorfman, A. Heading South, Looking North. Picador Africa/Pan Macmillan, 2011.

Dorfman, A. Americanos: Los pasos de Murieta. Seix Barral, 2009.

Dorfman, A. Blake's Therapy (screenplay). 2008.

Dorfman, A., and Joaquin Dorfman. Burning City. Random House Children’s Books, 2005.


Dorfman, Ariel. “A RADICAL FAITH The Assassination of Sister Maura.” New York Times Book Review, vol. 121, no. 52, 25 Dec. 2016, pp. 18–18.

Dorfman, A. “Destination: Chile, A Geography Gone Mad.” Salon.Com Literary Guide to the World, 2006.

Dorfman, A. “Taking the Cinematic view of Latin American Politics.” San Francisco Chronicle, 2006.

Dorfman, A. “My First Play.” My First Play - An Anthology of Theatrical Beginnings, edited by N. Hern, Nick Hern Books, 2013, pp. 42–45.

Dorfman, A. “'No Ha Lugar' and 'Traduccíon Simultánea'.” La Libertad No Es Un Sueño: Memoria Poética, edited by R. Silva-Caceres and E. Mardones, EDITORIAL SIGNO LTDA, 2013, pp. 38–43.

Dorfman, A. “Una candela para Kerala.” Delta de Las Arenas: Cuentos Árabes, Cuentos Judíos, edited by R. M. S. compiladora, Literal Publishing, 2013, pp. 95–102.

Allen, Ariel Dorfman for Paula, and Ariel Dorfman for Paula Dorfman A. “afterword.” Flowers in the Desert: The Search for Chile’s Disappeared, University Press of Florida, 2013, pp. 120–25.

Dorfman, A. “'Despedida y amanecer' and 'Farewell and Dawn'.” Write Against Impunity: Latin American Authors Commemorate Their Murdered Colleagues (English and Spanish Version), edited by T. Mitchell and J. S. Tennant, Pen International, 2012.

Dorfman, A. “In the Footsteps of Salvadore Allende: Chile and the Occupy Movement.” The Occupy Handbook, edited by J. Byrne, Back Bay Books/Little Brown and Co., 2012, pp. 218–22.

Dorfman, A., and C. Hitchens. “Foreword to the Twelve Edition.” The Trial of Henry Kissinger, 2012, pp. ix–xiv.

Dorfman, A. “Out of the Dark: An Extract from the New Play.” 40 Years of Index on Censorship, edited by J. Glanville, Arts Council of England, 2012, pp. 180–99.

Herman, J., et al. “An unbearable heartache: Trauma, violence, and memory.” Transforming Terror: Remembering the Soul of the World, 2011, pp. 67–101.

Jentz, T., et al. “Truth telling and justice.” Transforming Terror: Remembering the Soul of the World, 2011, pp. 173–212.


Dorfman, Ariel. “Advice for Maduro.” Nation, vol. 308, no. 6, NATION CO INC, Mar. 2019, pp. 4-+.

Dorfman, A. “What she has seen.” Sinn Und Form, vol. 70, no. 6, Nov. 2018, pp. 725–33.

Dorfman, A. “Spying for Shakespeare: Shakespeare, Cervantes and spies, our exclusive new story for Index from the award-winning writer has it all.” Index on Censorship, vol. 46, no. 4, Dec. 2017, pp. 92–109. Scopus, doi:10.1177/0306422017748826. Full Text

Dorfman, A. “Finding julio gamboa.” Antioch Review, vol. 75, no. 4, Sept. 2017, pp. 567–73. Scopus, doi:10.7723/antiochreview.75.4.0567. Full Text

Dorfman, A. “Sounds of solidarity: The Chilean author presents his short story on the power of music as resistance.” Index on Censorship, vol. 44, no. 4, Dec. 2015, pp. 100–08. Scopus, doi:10.1177/0306422015622945. Full Text

Dorfman, A. “Je suis José Carrasco.” Index on Censorship, vol. 44, no. 1, Jan. 2015, pp. 89–91. Scopus, doi:10.1177/0306422015574214b. Full Text

Dorfman, Ariel. “The Rags of Time.” Literary Review, vol. 58, no. 4, 2015, pp. 149–62.

Dorfman, A. “Separated at birth.” Nation, vol. 300, no. 14, Jan. 2015, pp. 70–72.

Dorfman, A. “Casting away: A new short story by the acclaimed human rights writer.” Index on Censorship, vol. 43, no. 3, Jan. 2014, pp. 132–44. Scopus, doi:10.1177/0306422014549150. Full Text


Allen, Ariel Dorfman for Paula. afterword. University Press of Florida, 2013, pp. 120–25.

Dorfman, A. “It's a Small World.” Boston Review, vol. 37, no. 6, Dec. 2012, pp. 32–49.

Dorfman, A. “The Last Copy.” The Atlantic Monthly, Aug. 2011.

Dorfman, A. “Asylum.” Playboy, 1 Apr. 2010, pp. 56–57.

Dorfman, A. El otro lado. Diario de Cadiz/Teatro Municipal Pedro Muñoz Seca, Nov. 2009.

Dorfman, A. Innocent Passage. Amnesty International UK, July 2009.

Dorfman, A. “Innocent Passage.” Freedom Anthology, Amnesty International UK, July 2009.

Dorfman, A. Introduction to Empire’s Old Clothes. Duke University Press, 2009.

Dorfman, A. “Picasso’s Closet.” The Nasher Museum of Art, 2009.

Dorfman, A. “Poem for the Grandchildren of Three Five O.” 350 Website, edited by Bill McKibben, 2009.