Voices of the Americas

As a result of an ongoing digital preservation project to assess and digitize legacy audio recordings in the Manuscripts Division, visitors to the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections can now hear the voices of many of Latin America’s most celebrated modern authors, including five Nobel laureates in Literature, Miguel Angel Asturias (1967), Pablo Neruda (1971), Octavio Paz (1990), Gabriel García Márquez (1982), and Mario Vargas Llosa (2010). Among the other authors represented in the digitized media are Jorge Amado, Reinaldo Arenas, Jorge Luis Borges, Guillermo Cabrera Infante, Julio Cortázar, José Donoso, Carlos Fuentes, Pablo Neruda, Octavio Paz, Emir Rodríguez Monegal, and others. Audio-visual media from the papers of Carlos Fuentes, Mario Vargas Llosa, and other Latin American literary collections are being surveyed for future digitization.

The recordings of interviews, literary readings, and conference presentations are found dispersed among the Manuscripts Division’s rich holdings on Latin American authors and intellectuals since the Boom. The pilot project that identified and preserved the content of approximately 230 audio cassettes and open-reel audio tapes was managed by Elvia Arroyo-Ramírez. Magnetic tape and other analog media have a limited life-span because of the natural degradation of the medium, changes in recording formats, and the obsolescence of listening and viewing equipment. These problems long prevented access to the original recordings, which had to be professionally digitized, backed up for long-term storage, and loaded onto laptops in the Reading Room for access.

Below is a list of what is currently available for listening in the Reading Room of the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections (in Firestone Library, C-Floor), during regular visiting hours, Monday-Friday, 9:00 am to 4:45 pm:

• Rita Guibert Collection of Latin American Authors (C1502). The Argentine-American writer Rita Guibert (1916-2007) made most of these recordings for her book Seven Voices: Seven Latin American Writers Talk to Rita Guibert (1973), with additional interviews on other occasions. Authors include Miguel A. Asturias, Jorge Luis Borges, Guillermo Cabrera Infante, Julio Cortázar, José Donoso, Carlos Fuentes, Gabriel García Márquez, Pablo Neruda, Octavio Paz, Manuel Puig, and Mario Vargas Llosa.

•Thomas Colchie ’64 Collection on Jorge Amado (C1450). Recorded interviews (1984-91) by Thomas Colchie (Class of 1964), with Jorge Amado, as well as with other people about the Brazilian author’s life and work.

• Gabriela Mora Collection on Elena Garro (C0994). Recorded interviews and readings (1974, 1979).

• Emir Rodríguez Monegal Papers (C0652). Numerous recorded interviews, lectures, and conference presentations (1956-84). Authors include Maria Bonatti (about Borges), Julio Cortázar, José Donoso, Carlos Fuentes, Juan Goytisolo, Gabriel García Márquez, Pablo Neruda, Juan Carlos Onetti, Octavio Paz, Manuel Puig, Severo Sarduy, and Mario Vargas Llosa.

• Juan García Ponce Papers (C0977). Recordings (1970-2002) of conferences and readings by this Mexican author, including Tajimara.

• Dolores Koch Collection on Reinaldo Arenas (C0984). Includes a recording of two songs, with Reinaldo Arenas and Dr. Olivier Ameisen (1988).

• Juan Gelman Papers (C1511). Includes a recording, “Bonifaz.”

• François Wahl Collection on Severo Sarduy (C1470). Interviews, radio programming, interviews, and music, 1976-95, collected by Cuban author Severo Sarduy and French editor François Wahl.

• Ann Tashi Slater Collection of Cuban Writings (C0799). Interview by Ann Tashi Slater (Class of 1984), with Reinaldo Arenas (1984).

• Ricardo Piglia Papers (C1513). An interview with the author (undated).

Additional recordings of Latin American authors are available in the archives of PEN American Center, which are also in the Manuscripts Division. They are primarily available through PEN’s online media archives, offering more than 1,500 hours of audio and video. PEN digitized the analog media as part of a multi-year project, in cooperation with the Manuscript Division, with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Mario Vargas Llosa, Pablo Neruda, and other Latin American authors have participated in PEN public programs as speakers or panelists at conferences, such as “Role of the Latin American Writer” (1966); “An Inquiry into the Role of Latin American Writers: The Politics of Torture” (1979/80); and “An Inquiry into the Role of Latin American Writers: Habeas Corpus and Los Desaparecidos” (1979/80).

For more information about Latin American holdings and Reading Room access, contact Public Services at rbsc@princeton.edu

Analog media from the Carlos Fuentes Papers