The Archive of the Patriarch
Ransom Center acquires Gabriel García Márquez papers
By Robert Faires,
12:30PM, Tue. Nov. 25, 2014
In one fell swoop, the Harry Ransom Center has given a major boost to its holdings by Latin American authors, Nobel laureates, and the most influential literary figures of the 20th century. The UT-Austin humanities research library and museum has managed all that by acquiring just one archive, that of Gabriel García Márquez.
The Colombian journalist who rose to international prominence with his 1967 novel One Hundred Years of Solitude and went on to burnish his reputation as a fiction writer with The Autumn of the Patriarch, Chronicle of a Death Foretold, and Love in the Time of Cholera, among other works, left behind more than five decades of material from his career. Within the collection that will reside at the HRC are original manuscripts for 10 books, as well as the typewriters and computers on which he wrote them; an annotated typescript of Chronicle of a Death Foretold; drafts of his unpublished novel We'll See Each Other in August; more than 2,000 pieces of correspondence, including letters from Carlos Fuentes and Graham Greene; dozens of photograph albums and scrapbooks documenting his life and career; and drafts of his speech accepting the 1982 Nobel Prize for Literature.
García Márquez's archive will be in good company at the HRC as far as Nobel winners go. The Ransom Center already holds materials by Samuel Beckett, George Bernard Shaw, W. B. Yeats, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, T.S. Eliot, Doris Lessing, and J.M. Coetzee.
As impressive as that is, however, the acquisition must be considered a major coup for the Ransom Center's Latin American collection, which contain some impressive materials – papers from the early career of Jorge Luis Borges,; the archive of Dominican-American writer Julia Alvarez; the papers of Mexican composer Daniel Catán (who died in Austin while working on an opera of Meet John Doe commissioned by the Butler School of Music); 400 letters from Emperor Maximillian I of Mexico to Empress Carlota – but nothing of the scope and stature of the Garcîa Márquez archive. (It seems especially fitting that the Garcîa Márquez collection should land at the institution that holds the papers of literary critic Angel Flores, the first to relate "magical realism" to Latin American fiction.)
Obviously, this also helps cement UT-Austin's reputation as an international center for Latin American scholarship, so it's no surprise that the LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collections – partnering the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies and the Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection – contributed support for the acquisition. In the university press release issued Monday, Charles Hale, director of the partnership, is quoted as saying, "With [García Márquez's] archive at the Ransom Center, the font of faculty expertise across the campus, and the immense array of complementary materials at the Benson Latin American Collection, Austin will consolidate its status as the premier destination for research and scholarly exchange on the wide array of topics that his life and work bring to the fore. We are thrilled to be in collaboration with the Ransom Center on the García Márquez project, and we look forward to forging close ties with our Latin American colleagues and sister institutions, working together to realize its magnificent potential."
The HRC's preliminary plans for realizing that potential include digitizing parts of the archives to make them available online and a university symposium to explore the career of this writer who, notes Ransom Center Director Stephen Enniss, "has had as important an influence on the novel of the second half of the 20th century as James Joyce had on the first half." No dates were announced. First, the archive materials must be processed and cataloged. For more information, visit the Ransom Center website.