March 3, 2021

Macondo ‘sounds’ in canary at Harvard

A fine Macondian rain stirred his curiosity more than a decade ago when he was consulting at the Cambridge University Library, a downpour similar to the one that so often moistened the soles of his feet in his hometown. The sociologist Álvaro Santana Acuña (1976, La Laguna) presented at noon yesterday at Harvard (Boston, United States) the content of Ascenso a la Gloria: how One Hundred Years of Solitude was written and how it became a global classic, a book that bears the publishing seal of the Columbia University of New York and that revolves around the most universal work of Gabriel García Márquez (1927-2014).

The foundations of Ascent to Glory They appear associated with a final degree project that with the passage of time evolved to the degree of a doctoral thesis. Its origins must be located in 2007, although in reality it was a year and a half later when Álvaro organized his strategy around the journalist and writer from the Colombian city of Aracataca. “Why did I get into this company?” He asks himself hours before an appointment that almost three hundred people followed. “After Don Quixote, it is the most widely read title in the Spanish language and, furthermore, one of the most commercialized”, he summarizes in relation to the more than 50 million copies that have been sold in the world of One Hundred Years of Solitude.

How it was written

More than a book dedicated to rescuing the memory of Gabo, what Álvaro Santana Acuña has captured in Ascenso a la gloria is how and under what circumstances the chapters that make up One Hundred Years of Solitude were written.

This is how an article of about 20,000 words ended up evolving, thought as an end-of-course project, into a sociology master’s degree and, much later, into a 400-page book that was published half a year ago to excellent reviews. “It has already been favorably reviewed in newspapers, magazines and magazines in more than a dozen countries and can be purchased in about 25 on almost all continents, it is only not available in Antarctica”, said in a humorous tone an author who A year ago he became the curator of an exhibition on García Márquez promoted by Harry Sansom at the University of Austin, Texas. “This sample managed an average of 1,200 weekly visits, but everything was interrupted by the pandemic,” he says based on the catastrophic evolution of the coronavirus in the United States.

“Macondo is saved, he does not die with the end of the Buendía line,” says the Lagunero author


An important part of the archives that were exhibited in Texas became the cornerstone of a literary adventure that has unique nuances: “The main claim of Ascent to Glory: how One Hundred Years of Solitude was written and how it became a It is necessary to look for it in the personal archives of García Márquez that I had the fortune to study –this is a privilege reserved for a small group of experts– and in the use of primary sources ”, he warns before going a little deeper into this appearance.

Anecdotes, myths and legends

Macondo is a universe flooded with countless anecdotes, myths and legends … Some were told by García Márquez while he was alive and others were attributed as One Hundred Years of Solitude was conquering the world. “In one way or another, they have all ended up being part of a truth that is concentrated around its magical realism”, the Canarian specialist has defended in a phase of the conversation in which everything revolves around the secrets that life still hides and work of Gabo. “The starting point of this book is his personal archive and there everything is duly contrasted one hundred percent … In the Anglo-Saxon version I have kept some references, or secrets, that I could not introduce due to the times to mount the work, but that they will be in the material that can be read in Spain when he finishes rewriting it, that is, what will come out in a time that is yet to be determined will be a different project in which not only the researcher will speak … There are secrets to unveil ”, he advances about the work that he is already outlining.

A preview of some of these mysteries is already on the table by Santana Acuña in this talk. “Colonel Aureliano Buendía was not going to be a main character in the novel but had to pass through Macondo during the war and, furthermore, Remedios la Bella was not really as beautiful as she appears, rather she was a disheveled and dirty woman”, reveals this researcher.

Another aspect reflected in Ascent to Glory has to do with the results obtained by the colonel on the battlefield. “Aureliano Buendía also won wars, he did not lose them all … But there is an idea that encompasses all the secrets that are hidden in Macondo”, remarks the lagoon man while explaining that “Macondo is saved, he does not die with the end of the lineage of the Buendía ”.

This work draws on the insides of the personal archive of the Colombian journalist and writer


Professor at Whitman College in Washington and with a past as a student at the universities of La Laguna, Stanford, Chicago, Harvard and at various prestigious centers in the United Kingdom and France, Álvaro Santana Acuña comments that “to summarize more than a decade of work at 400 pages it has been a complex task but, at the same time, tremendously fun. Immersing yourself in such a universal world has been an addictive experience that was born from a beautiful chance that I did not let slip ”.

And it is that this experience was precipitated in the middle of the study of “the formation of the French State in the 18th century after cartography”, which is the challenge in which this canary who also had a past in a period of time spent many hours of reading and writing. Galdosian scene, the Instituto de Canarias Cabrera Pinto de La Laguna.

Cover of ‘Ascent to Glory’.

In Aguere, precisely, he locates a connection with García Márquez’s Macondo. “The Macondian rain, a society associated with the expansion with the Spanish crown towards America and the ability of small towns to become large cities is something that unites these two enclaves”, he flagged seconds before returning to the writing of a be universal.

“García Máquez had the virtue or mastery of writing for all audiences and generations, that is, he knew how to capture on paper stories that are tied to our lives and that he knew how to profit from his excellent command of language and journalistic techniques”, has advance on a discourse that goes beyond Macondo or magical realism. “He wrote about emotions, sensations and feelings that are very close to human reality: love, disappointment, reconciliation; of matters that occupy a good part of our lives.

Yesterday, at Harvard University, Álvaro Santana Acuña closed a circle that he opened more than a decade ago and that, according to him, on more than one occasion gave him the feeling of being “kidnapped” by a fascinating story. “One hundred years of solitude is not an obsession for me, it is a world wonderfully told by Gabriel García Márquez.” Macondo sounded yesterday with a Canarian accent in one of the most internationally recognized university temples.


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