The Harry Ransom Center, at the University of Texas in Austin, has acquired the archives of Gabriel García Márquez, the late Colombian novelist and winner of the Nobel Prize for literature. The sale has sparked a row in his native Colombia, where people are asking how the great author’s archives ended up in the United States, a country that had banned him from entering its territory for more than three decades.
The archives include Márquez’s original manuscript material, more than 2,000 pieces of correspondence, including letters from Carlos Fuentes and Graham Greene, and nearly 40 photograph albums documenting all aspects of his life that spanned over eight decades.
His 10 books – including One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967) “Love in the Time of Cholera” (1985) and “Memories of My Melancholy Whores” (2004) – and drafts of his 1982 Nobel Prize acceptance speech are also part of the archives, the university stated in a press release.
The archives also came with the Smith Corona typewriters and computers on which he wrote some of the 20th century’s most beloved works, and scrapbooks meticulously documenting his career via news clippings from Latin America and around the world.
Some reports say the deal to acquire the archive was reached in May this year, just a month after his death.
Colombia has expressed dismay at the sale of his priceless archive. But the author’s family members reacted bitterly, stating they sold the archive to the U.S. library as the Colombian government showed no interest in purchasing it.
But the Colombian government has tweeted back saying the family did not make any financial offer. Neither party is disclosing the price the Texas University paid for the archive.
Some groups have stated that the Márquez family could have held an international auction to verify whether or not the Colombian government had any interest in buying.
Born in Aracataca, Colombia in 1927, García Márquez began his career as a journalist in the 1940s, reporting from Bogotá and Cartagena and later serving as a foreign correspondent in Europe and Cuba. In 1961, he moved to Mexico City.
Alongside his prolific journalism career, García Márquez published many works of fiction, including novels, novellas and multiple short story collections and screenplays. He published the first volume of his three-part memoir “Vivir Para Contarla” (“Living to Tell the Tale”) in 2002.
“García Márquez is a giant of 20th-century literature whose work brims with originality and wisdom,” said Bill Powers, president of the University of Texas in Austin.
The archives will reside at the Ransom Center alongside the work of many of the 20th century’s most notable authors, including Jorge Luis Borges, William Faulkner and James Joyce, who all influenced García Márquez, the Ransom Center said.