Raja Rao archive donated to UT’s Ransom Center

3/13/97 Photo Tom Lankes     Morris story     RAJA RAO,88-year-old literary scholar and former UT Professor, will be the subject of an upcoming symposium at UT-Asian Studies.
3/13/97 Photo Tom Lankes Morris story RAJA RAO,88-year-old literary scholar and former UT Professor, will be the subject of an upcoming symposium at UT-Asian Studies.

The estate of Raja Rao has donated the archive of the late author and philosopher to the Ransom Center at the University of Texas. It’s a notable acquisition in part because Rao is widely considered to have been one of India’s most noted authors, having received the Neustadt International Prize for Literature and other honors.

Rao taught philosophy at the University of Texas from 1966 to 1980. His stint at UT began after he visited Austin in the early 1960s to lecture on philosophy, invited by Texas Dean John Silber. The lectures were so successful that UT’s philosophy department hired him in 1966.

Rao wrote many works of fiction, short stories, poems and essays. His fiction included “Kanthapura” (1938), which dealt with nonviolent resistance in a southern Indian village; “The Serpent and the Rope” (1960); and “The Chessmaster and His Moves” (1988). In 1964, The New York Times called him “perhaps the most brilliant – and certainly the most interesting – writer of modern India.”

He also wrote “The Great Indian Way: A Life of Mahatma Gandhi” (1988), about Gandhi’s time in South Africa.

The archive includes his manuscripts and other materials, including unpublished works, and will be available to researchers once processed and cataloged.

Rao, who died in 2006, was born in southern India in 1908 and earned his bachelor’s degree at Madras University. He did postgraduate studies in literature and history at the University of Montpellier and at the Sorbonne, and his archive contains materials in various languages. He knew Jawaharlal Nehru, a leader of the Indian Independence Movement, and lived at Gandhi’s ashram in the 1940s.

In 1964, he won the Indian National Academy of Letters’ Sahitya Akademi Award for Literature for the “The Serpent and the Rope.” He received the Padma Bhushan Award – one of India’s highest awards for literature — in 1969. And in 1988, he won the Neustadt International Prize for Literature.

Rao retired from teaching in 1980, and afterward, he rose each morning at 6:30 to meditate and walk the hike-and-bike trail.

“It was one of the most joyous times in our life, ” his wife, Susan Rao, told the American-Statesman shortly after his death. “He would talk about Indian philosophy and just enjoy nature. We’d be walking along, and suddenly he’d stop and he’d go, ‘Susan, stop, look at that shadow on the trail; it’s so beautiful! Look, the trees are blowing, it’s like they’re waving at us.’ And he would talk to trees, and he would actually hear answers back. (Once) he told a tree that he was a Brahmin — he was very, very proud of being of the Brahmin caste in India, which was the priestly caste — and the tree told him back, ‘Yes, we’ve known about them for 4,000 years.’ ”

Ransom Center opens Garcia Marquez archive to researchers

ORG XMIT: MXMT105 Colombia's Nobel Literature Prize laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez reads his latest book, titled
ORG XMIT: MXMT105 Colombia’s Nobel Literature Prize laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez reads his latest book, titled “I Didn’t Come Here to Make a Speech”, at his home in Mexico City, Monday, Nov. 1, 2010. The compilation of his speeches about politics, literature and other topics, was presented in Mexico City last Thursday. (AP Photo/Miguel Tovar)

The archive of Nobel Prize-winning author Gabriel García Márquez opened today for research at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas.

The humanities research center agreed to pay $2.2 million for the archive of the late Colombian author last year and announced the acquisition in November.

The author, who lived in Mexico City during his later years, is best known for such acclaimed novels as “One Hundred Years of Solitude” (1967) and “Love in the Time of Cholera” (1985). He died in April of 2014 at the age of 87.

“This archive, strengthening UT’s world-class humanities collection, not only offers research opportunities to our students and to Texans, but will attract a global research community to Austin,” said UT President Gregory L. Fenves.

The archive contains more than 75 boxes of documents, and researchers will have access to manuscript drafts of published and unpublished works, correspondence, 43 photograph albums, 22 scrapbooks, research material, notebooks, newspaper clippings, screenplays and ephemera.

“With the establishment of the Gabriel García Márquez archive, Gabo has entered history,” said Stephen Enniss, director of the Ransom Center. “Like a character in one of his own novels, he has entered a place outside of time. Somewhere among these papers Florentino Ariza still waits outside the house of his first love; somewhere a colonel waits patiently for the weekly post. An archive is a timeless thing, and for years to come the materials that have been collected here will give up, to those who are patient, insights into the art of García Márquez.”

The Ransom Center has started supplementing the archive by acquiring materials that illuminate both the personal and professional activities of the author. A recent acquisition includes 48 letters written by García Márquez to Colombian writer Plinio Apuleyo Mendoza between 1961 and 1971. The letters reveal García Márquez’s thoughts about his work and his life, including difficulties and successes with writing, the center said.

Other additions include a carbon typescript of García Márquez’s “El colonel no tiene quien le escribe” (“No One Writes to the Colonel”), handwritten notes on personalized notecards, typed letters and a copy of “El general en su laberinto” (“The General in His Labyrinth”) with more than a dozen emendations in the author’s hand.

The archive is supported by the university’s LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collections, a partnership between the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies and the Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection. LLILAS is regarded as one of the strongest Latin American studies programs in the country, and the Benson Collection is recognized as one of the world’s premier libraries focusing on Latin American studies, the university said.

LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collections and the Ransom Center will commemorate the opening of the archive with the symposium “Gabriel García Márquez: His Life and Legacy” Oct. 28–30.

Scholars, journalists, filmmakers and former colleagues of García Márquez’s will speak about his global influence in the fields of journalism, filmmaking and literature. Registration is full, but the symposium will be webcast live in English and Spanish via www.hrc.utexas.edu.

Author Salman Rushdie will deliver the opening keynote address Oct. 28, while journalist and author Elena Poniatowska will provide the closing keynote Oct. 30.

A selection of materials from the García Márquez archive is on display in the Ransom Center’s lobby through Nov. 1.

In addition to García Márquez, other Nobel laureates represented in the Ransom Center’s collections are Samuel Beckett, J. M. Coetzee, T. S. Eliot, Ernest Hemingway, Doris Lessing, George Bernard Shaw, Isaac Bashevis Singer, John Steinbeck and W. B. Yeats.

UT Regents approve acquisition of Ishiguro archive

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 02:  Kazuo Ishiguro meets fans and signs copies of his new novel 'The Buried Giant' at Waterstone's, Piccadilly on March 2, 2015 in London, England.  (Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND – MARCH 02: Kazuo Ishiguro meets fans and signs copies of his new novel ‘The Buried Giant’ at Waterstone’s, Piccadilly on March 2, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images)

The University of Texas Regents have approved $1.1 million in spending by the Harry Ransom Center to acquire the archive of acclaimed British novelist Kazuo Ishiguro.

Ishiguro, who is of Japanese descent, has received four Man Booker Prize nominations and won the 1989 award for his novel, “The Remains of the Day,” which eventually was made into an acclaimed movie.

His seventh novel, “The Buried Giant,” was published in March.

The Ransom Center has not announced any details about the acquisition, since it was awaiting approval for the purchase.