Garcia Marquez archive goes to University of Texas

AP News
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Posted: Nov 24, 2014 5:11 PM
Garcia Marquez archive goes to University of Texas

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The archive of celebrated Colombian novelist and Nobel laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez has been acquired by the University of Texas — meaning the critic of U.S. foreign policy is having his papers end up in a country he wasn't always too fond of.

The Harry Ransom Center, a top literary archive located on the university's Austin campus, announced Monday that the collection spans more than 50 years and features original manuscript material for 10 books, including Garcia Marquez's acclaimed 1967 novel, "One Hundred Years of Solitude."

Also included are drafts of Garcia Marquez's acceptance speech for his 1982 Nobel Prize in Literature and 2,000 pieces of correspondence, such as letters to novelists Carlos Fuentes and Graham Greene. There are also typewriters and computers used by Garcia Marquez, who lived most of his life in Mexico City and died there in April at age 87.

Most of the collection is in Spanish. The center plans to digitize part of it eventually to make it more accessible.

"The University of Texas at Austin — with expertise in both Latin America and the preservation and study of the writing process — is the natural home for this very important collection," University of Texas President Bill Powers said in a statement.

The university said it bought the collection from Garcia Marquez's family, but wouldn't say how much it cost, citing a competitive bidding process.

Garcia Marquez was a close friend of former Cuban leader Fidel Castro and was sometimes outspoken in his opposition to U.S. policy in Latin America. The Mexican poet and novelist Homero Aridjis said Monday that it was an "ideological irony" that Garcia Marquez's papers will now rest on American soil.

But Aridjis said it was likely a practical decision based on money, quality of care for the collection and better accessibility.

"The University of Texas, they catalog, take good care of the archives ... and make them available to researchers," Aridjis said. He later added: "It's contradictory, because on one hand it's pragmatic on the part of the heirs. But on the other hand, it's contradictory to the career of Garcia Marquez."

Rafael Tovar y de Teresa, president of Mexico's National Council of Arts and Culture, said he thought the collection would be "well taken care of there in Austin," but disappointment came Monday in Garcia Marquez's home country, where the National Library announced it had been negotiating for the collection eventually to be housed there since late last year.

"There's some regret that this entire archive we're talking about didn't go to Colombia, but I understand there were private negotiations and we respect those," said National Library of Colombia spokesman Sergio Zapata.

The Ransom Center already has extensive archives on writers Jorge Luis Borges, William Faulkner and James Joyce. Other Nobel laureates included in its collection are Samuel Beckett, T. S. Eliot, Ernest Hemingway and John Steinbeck.

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Associated Press Writers Jim Vertuno in Austin, Mark Stevenson in Mexico City and Juan Camilo Hernandez in Bogota, Colombia contributed to this report.