50th Anniversary of Marquez’s “One Hundred Years of Solitude”

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Gabriel García Márquez working on “One Hundred Years of Solitude.” Photograph by Guillermo Angulo
Image courtesy of Harry Ransom Center

                                                                                                                           

Today marks the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, and the Harry Ransom Center (HRC) at the University of Texas at Austin is marking the day by releasing an online collection documenting the creation of the novel that catapulted Márquez onto the world stage.                                                     

This digital launch is part of a larger project funded by a grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources to digitize more than 24,000 images from the Márquez archive, which is slated to be completed by December 2017.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

The acquisition of the Colombian-born author’s collection from the Márquez family in 2014 complements the HRC’s vast literary archives of fellow authors like James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, and Jorge Luis Borges. Students in the Latin American Studies program will no doubt benefit from studying Márquez’s trove of manuscripts, notebooks, correspondence, photo albums, and writing implements, like the two Smith Corona typewriters and five Apple computers Márquez kept and worked on throughout his career.


On May 24, the HRC hosted a Facebook Live discussion where José Montelongo of UT’s Benson Latin American Collection and Alvaro Santana-Acuña, a Ransom Center fellow and assistant professor of sociology at Whitman College led a lively conversation in Spanish and English about Márquez and his book. (See the discussion here.)


Interestingly, Márquez destroyed his working papers for Solitude (the HRC does have galleys as well as the last typescript version of the novel), while the trove that remains reveals a perfectionist at his craft. Santana-Acuña, author of the forthcoming book, Ascent to Glory: The Transformation of ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ Into a Global Classic (Columbia University Press), explained what awaits scholars who examine the remaining drafts. “He was a hardworking writer. He reviewed texts again and again until he made sure that the language was simple and effective.” No small feat for a book whose plot covered seven generations and treated magic and mythology as reality, in the process creating what is widely considered the seminal work of magical realism.

                                                                                                                                                               

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Gabriel García Márquez’s annotated typescript of “Love in the Time of Cholera.” Image courtesy of Harry Ransom Center


The novel would eventually become known as one of the most influential books of the twentieth century, garnering Márquez the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982, yet it was not an immediate smash hit, at least among critics. “The book was an unexpected success, but critics were baffled back in 1967,” explained Santana-Acuña. “It was anachronistic and traditionalist; a return to old-fashioned storytelling at a time when the novel form was said to be in crisis.”


Crisis or no, when it comes to Solitude, Márquez put it best: “There is always something left to love.”

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