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The magically real digital archive of Gabriel García Márquez

By Jullianne Ballou

In December 2015, the Council on Library and Information Resources granted the Harry Ransom Center a Digitizing Hidden Special Collections and Archives award to scan more than 24,000 pages from the Gabriel García Márquez archive. The project, “Sharing ‘Gabo’ with the World,” is now under way, and members of the project team have digitized more than a 2,500 manuscript pages. Over the next 18 months, we will scan more manuscripts, notebooks, scrapbooks, photographs, and ephemera from the archive. Below are items of interest we’ve come across so far, including García Márquez’s pitch for a film about a perfect soccer match and extensive edits to draft pages of Of Love and Other Demons.

The finished project will include an online archive of 24,000 pages from the papers of García Márquez and the implementation of Mirador, an image viewer that allows researchers to view side-by-side comparisons of digitized texts within a single interface, helping them identify successive stages of revision among drafts.


Gabriel García Márquez’s typed “film pitch for a perfect soccer game.”
Gabriel García Márquez’s typed “Idea for a film about a perfect soccer match" (in Spanish).
Gabriel García Márquez’s verso of a draft page of "Of Love and Other Demons."
A draft page of "Of Love and Other Demons" with García Márquez's edits.


The online archive will also serve as an introduction to archival collections to those not accustomed to using archival materials. Last month I had the privilege of speaking about the García Márquez archive to students attending Austin Bat Cave’s magical realism writing workshop. One workshop exercise used García Márquez’s popular short story “Un señor muy viejo con unas alas enormes” (“A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings”) as a prompt for the students’ own stories. With access to the online collection, students, including future writers, will be able to learn from García Márquez’s process first-hand.

Photograph courtesy of Austin Bat Cave.
Photograph courtesy of Austin Bat Cave.

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