The concept of a descriptive bibliography for the work of Gabriel García Márquez began in June 1991, nearly fifteen years after becoming a serious collector of his work.
Unable to find a suitable reference to describe the author’s first editions in Spanish, I began an informal checklist in order to identify and track my own acquisitions—some of which were unwittingly purchased as correct first editions when in fact they were not. Misrepresentation of a scarce book can be quite irritating to the discriminating collector. On the other hand, fishing in foreign waters may net the unexpected.
In my search for a comprehensive reference, I was introduced to the concept of descriptive bibliography by Peter Howard, of Serendipity Books, Berkeley, California. I soon came to appreciate this science for the great service it could provide—a service I was surprised to learn was non-existent for Gabriel García Márquez. Arguably, a descriptive bibliography did not exist for any Latin American author—until I published my first work in 2003. That work had about 1000 citations. The current Bibliographer’s Collection has over 7,000 citations with over 10,000 images and illustrations.
I began to appreciate the need for such a work and was some-what apprehensive in undertaking such a scholarly project as a descriptive bibliography—which I did only after being encouraged by scholars and bibliophiles who indicated ongoing and future studies in many areas of the author’s published work would benefit immensely from the publication of such a work. Thus the seed was planted.
After compiling my original checklist I began to network with institutions, collectors and booksellers in the U.S.—all specializing in Latin American literature. Soon this network became a world-wide well-spring from which I have been able draw a great deal of valuable information; and to discover, and in some cases obtain, many books.
The work gained an invaluable component in 1992 with the acquisition of a laptop computer and a versatile database (© FileMaker Pro) to help analyze and assemble bits and chunks of bibliographic data at home and away.
The promise of collaborating with García Márquez’s literary agent of over thirty years, Carmen Balcells, came to fruition and became a great inspiration, as it has been until her death in 2015.
By 1993 my network of bibliographic informants or “Gabophiles” who helped collaborate on the project stretched from Berkeley to Barcelona, Buenos Aires to Bogotá.
With this dynamic network I became convinced, despite the project’s complex elements, that a respectable product was possible—despite my lack of fluency in Spanish and the fact that most of the author’s works are published either in Spain or Hispanic America. I remained enthusiastic, inspired by the knowledge that the result would be of value to individuals and institutions whose lives and livelihood were somehow interwoven with the prolific work of Gabriel García Márquez. Such thoughts provided solace during difficult periods when various crises related to the bibliography occurred.
Initially, the scope of the research was daunting. The task of sorting the bewildering array of titles and editions of the author’s Spanish works alone seemed impossible. Many editions lacked copyright information or even publishing dates; some were incorrectly identified and poorly described in card catalogues and checklists.
Adding to the chaos was the discovery of “new” titles, primary works of fiction—but mostly non-fiction. These titles were largely unfamiliar or even unknown to specialists and collectors of not only Latin American literature, but García Márquez in particular. For example: Cuando era feliz e indocumentado; Operación Carlota and Cuentos de mi abuelo el coronel.
During the first of many visits to Spain, in December, 1992, I met Gustavo Peña, a Madrid bookseller specializing in Latin American literature. He provided some very interesting books and one very helpful contact. He suggested I pay a visit to the Embassy of Colombia in Madrid in order to meet the cultural attaché, Juan Gustavo Cobo Borda. Cobo Borda is one of Colombia’s most renown men of letters—a poet and critic and a great friend, collector, and collaborator, on various literary projects, with García Márquez.
I met with Cobo Borda at his office in Madrid. Despite a language issue (my poor Spanish; his poor English), I was taken by surprise when he held up a copy of Los cuentos de mi abuelo el coronel, a book I had never seen, nor knew existed—despite the fact that there were over ten-thousand copies published in the first and only edition! The book in hand was Cobo Borda’s personal copy, one of twenty in Roman numerals. Cobo Borda himself was the editor of this fascinating children’s pop-up book comprised of fragments of stories by García Márquez—stories in which children play a key role.
Something even more important came out of my meeting with Cobo Borda—the address of Fernando Jaramillo—a book collector in Cali, Colombia. According to the attaché, Jaramillo knew everything there was to know about the life and work of “Gabo”—the name by which his friends call him.
Jaramillo seemed to know Gabo’s every move on a nearly day by day basis. On my return home to San Francisco, I wrote (before email) Sr. Jaramillo and outlined my bibliography project. After the exchange of a few letters, I was convinced that Cobo Borda was right: my opening salutation to Jaramillo soon became, “Estimado Sr. Gaboloco,” for he was someone truly obsessed with his Nobel Prize winning fellow countryman.
Carmen Balcells, unlike Jaramillo, may not recall every move the author has made but she is in almost daily telephone communication with him, has a file in which every edition while under her fifty year aegis is recorded, and has her own private collection of García Márquez’s works—which I would get to examine and archive years later.
Referred to in the bibliography as CBB (Carmen Balcells Biblioteca), her vast collection numbers in the many thousands of editions—all are file copies: first editions, later issues, limited editions, and ephemera—all in superb condition. I feel honored and deeply grateful to have been allowed access to her collection. When I had the privilege of archiving her collection I noted she had about 29,000 editions.
It should also be noted that Ms. Balcells, with her enthusiastic collaboration, and the aid of her dedicated assistant, Carina Pons, has been an invaluable intermediary by arranging for the translation and publication of my first bibliography with one of Latin America’s preeminent publishers, Grupo Editorial Norma, Bogotá, Colombia.
Another noteworthy source of my research, also from Spain, has been the Biblioteca Nacional de Madrid. Their non-circulating policy and extensive collection of the author’s works (published after 1975) provided a veritable gold mine of Marqueziana. All of the texts petitioned for examination (c. 50) at the BNM were in fine condition without the heavy-duty bindings customarily encountered in other libraries and institutions. Of note: most editions I discovered at the BNM do not exist in any of the other dozen or so state or national libraries in Spain or the in the Americas that I have visited.
Nonetheless, with all this help, it seemed the harder I tried to acquire data related to print runs, etc., i.e., essential bibliographic information, the more difficult and convoluted was my quest. I came to understand that the world of publishing, particularly in Latin America, was not the innocuous domain I had assumed. Rivalry among publishers and agents for literary talent and new markets have always been obvious components of publishing—world-wide. But, it soon became apparent that Hispano-America publishing, particularly in the case of García Márquez (a lucrative business), had its own peculiar history which at times seemed involved in as much intrigue as a mystery best-seller. This mainly concerned print runs, which were often impossible to ascertain or came with conflicting figures.
During my last year of research for the first publication, as more pieces of the bibliographic puzzle came together, I began to learn more about alleged unethical practices in publishing and printing that have arguably gone on for decades and continue unabated in the Americas. García Márquez, being in the forefront of Hispanic narratives—arguably, its most heavily published author—seems to have been prey to every conceivable illicit scheme related to publishing and printing yet devised. It is no wonder he has become a piracy paranoiac attempting to ferret out each and every unauthorized copy of his work—as is his agent Carmen Balcells.
My zeal for obtaining as much information regarding the printing history of each of more than six-hundred editions has unfortunately led to some incomplete bibliographic citations: lack of a print run, a publishing date, cost at publication, and etc. In an effort to fill some of these voids I would often try harder, ask more questions, write more letters and send more faxes. In a few cases, with far less data than hoped for, I elected to keep the citation in place anyway—if for no other reason to let the reader know of the book’s existence. Perhaps they will inspire a future bibliographer to uncover these elusive data.
In compiling Gabriel García Márquez: The Bibliographer’s Collection, I have attempted to introduce consistency, comprehension, and scholarship where I found chaos, confusion, and ignorance. Perhaps I have achieved this by the compilation of the work in such a manner that the final product will be a worthy resource for all.
An important factor in compiling this bibliography was my collaboration among various collectors, publishers, translators, booksellers, librarians, scholars, and other bibliophiles who provided assistance. Many individuals have been of great service to me for their invaluable support and help. To all of them I express my sincere appreciation for each and every contribution—large or small.
I would like to acknowledge the following individuals and institutions, without them this work would not have been possible. Special thanks to Kurt Zimmerman, Wally Gebhard, Gary Oleson, and Ted Estrada, each of whom unhesitatingly shared their private collections of the author’s work. Thanks also to Burton Weiss and Thomas Goldwasser, whose comments, criticism, and erudite suggestions improved the language of the text. I am deeply indebted to Carmen Balcells and Fernando Jaramillo whose proximity to Gabriel García Márquez proved to be invaluable. Antonio Lima, GGM collector extraordinaire, has been and continues to be an invaluable resource. My visit with Lucho Berggrun and many with Fernando Jaramillo in Cali was extremely fruitful. Many conversations with Gregory Rabassa were informative and stimulating; the eminent translator’s papers are located in Special Collections at Boston University. A great deal of thanks to Gonzalo García Barcha (Paris), Gerald Martin (Univ. Pittsburgh), Nelly S. González (Univ. Illinois), William Ratliff (The Hoover Institution), Anna Rosa Nuñez (Univ. Miami), Peter Johnson (Princeton Univ.), Mark Dimunation (Syracuse Univ.), John Hallewell (Colombia Univ.), Everette Larson (Library of Congress), Gloria Lopez Llovet de Rodrigué and Susana Isabel Kaluzynski (Editorial Sudamericana, Buenos Aires), Heras Eduardo (Casa de las Américas, Havana), Araceli García-Carranza (Biblioteca Nacional José Marti, Havana), Lilia Edith Escobar (Biblioteca de UNAM, Mexico City), Antonia Rojas Ávila (Filmoteca de UNAM), Conchita Estrada (Biblioteca Nacional de México), and especially David D. Clark (former World Literature Today editor) for his enthusiastic and unending support. Also thanks to Peter Howard, Alan Milkerit, David Sachs, Nick Burrows, Edith Grossman, John Wronoski, Gary Oleson, Ken Lopez, John Quinn, Charles Seluzicki, Kevin Hunsanger, Fred Grossbard, Bob Brown, Richard McLaughlin, Michael de Haven, Mark Takai, Robert Dagg, Nerissa Moran, John Durham, Michael Pincus, Tom Saltsman, John Dinsmore, Arturo Issa, John Scott, Fernando Vega, Dale Carter, Jr., Facundo Caletti, Matthew E. Gonzalez, Andrew McKinley, Bryan Bilby, Leda Girardi, Michael Calvello III, Gustavo Peña, Jaime Fiol, Juan Gustavo Cobo Borda, Jorge Muños-Tovar, Juan Carlos Castillon, Pamela Smorkaloff, Elvira Mendoza, Ruth Capriles, the firm of Spolter, Mannion, & McDonald, attorneys at law, Mark Cianciarulo, Paul Crosbie, Alfredo Montalvo, Daniel Fernando, Steve Lukrofka, Hans Gehre, Frank Gatell, and the staff at the Agencia Literaria Carmen Balcells: Carina Pons, Antonia Fritz, Enrique Tépox, and Núria; and especially Jeffrey Miller, whose precise editorial comments, unselfishly provided, added to the overall strength and accuracy of the work.
Finally, my personal thanks to Gabriel José García Márquez, whose more than 60 years of creative genius has been both an inspiration and a truly magical experience for us all.
Acknowledgements for GGM Bib.
Carmen Balcells, Fernando Jaramillo, Lucho Berggrun, Antonio Lima, Dasso Saldivar, Gerald Martin, Peter Howard,