Skip to main content

The Literary Classic and the Underappreciated Significance of Indexical Expressions

  • Chapter
  • First Online:
Sociology of the Arts in Action

Part of the book series: Sociology of the Arts ((SOA))

  • 160 Accesses

Abstract

The analytical potential of indexical expressions remains untapped in sociology. This paper offers a refurbished approach to indexical analysis, which traces how the patterns of meaningfulness that indexical expressions create over time and across space contribute to the emergence of a literary classic. Contrary to ethnomethodologists’ claims, my research on literary classics reveals that the properties of indexical expressions in literature can be nonlocally and externally witnessable. This paper analyzes the novel One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967). Relying on data comprising 56 countries and 47 years, the analysis finds that a literary classic produces at least four patterns of meaningfulness: lived experience, universalization, artistic commensuration, and entrenched criticism.

This is a fully revised and updated version of a section of Santana-Acuña, “How a literary work becomes a classic: The case of One Hundred Years of Solitude,” American Journal of Cultural Sociology (2014), Vol. 2, 1, 97–149.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this chapter

Chapter
USD 29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
eBook
USD 129.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as EPUB and PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
Softcover Book
USD 169.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Compact, lightweight edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info
Hardcover Book
USD 169.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Durable hardcover edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Purchases are for personal use only

Institutional subscriptions

Notes

  1. 1.

    Indexical expressions are similar to deictic expressions—words that need additional information to be understood. The main difference between them is that deictic expressions are associated with spatiotemporal references, while indexical expressions include a wider range of references (e.g., the arts). In sum, I consider deictic expressions a subcategory of indexical expressions.

  2. 2.

    Other elements are the galleon abandoned in the jungle, José Arcadio’s long penis, the four-year-long rain, Mauricio Babilonia and his yellow butterflies, the insomnia plague, the banana strike and massacre of banana workers, the priest’s levitations, and the novel’s ending.

  3. 3.

    The novel’s original context of production included the writer Gabriel García Márquez, his contemporary peers in literature, literary agent Carmen Balcells, publishers Sudamericana and Seix Barral, contemporary literary critics and scholars, and the first generation of readers. More than half a century after the novel’s publication in 1967, its original context of production has basically disappeared (Santana-Acuña, 2020).

  4. 4.

    Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Singapore, Spain, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States, plus the store Amazon en español.

  5. 5.

    This chapter does not argue that classics are so because they have a universal meaning. On the contrary, the fact that an object is classified as universal is the result of cultural conventions shared by a historically situated community (Santana-Acuña, 2020). This process of universalization requires a historical and sociological analysis, like the one offered here.

  6. 6.

    Along with admirers and fans, authors and classics have declared enemies. For example, Voltaire and Tolstoy harshly (and famously) criticized Shakespeare and his plays Hamlet and King Lear. Bernard Shaw and Virginia Woolf also voiced their negative views of Shakespeare and some of his plays. Not only famous writers but also common readers contribute to entrenched criticism. In platforms such as Goodreads.com, they have written criticism, sometimes cruel, about the Odyssey, the Divine Comedy, Hamlet, Don Quixote, Wuthering Heights, War and Peace, Madame Bovary, Ulysses, The Trial, and One Hundred Years of Solitude, among other works (Hancock Rubio, 2015; Foreman, 2016).

  7. 7.

    Citations and years in brackets refer to data from the data set that I collected for the elements under analysis between 1967 and 2020. Due to lack of space in this chapter, I only indicate basic information about the authorship behind each reference to the elements in the novel. For the full database, go to: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1dmmKquw3ZJPG1eEVK0sbpulZysZ4FQjU

  8. 8.

    Similar evidence about the universalization of Macondo was found for years 1971, 1978, 2006, 2007, and 2012.

References

  • Alexander, J., Jacobs, R., & Smith, P. (2012). Introduction: Cultural Sociology Today. In J. Alexander, R. Jacobs, & P. Smith (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Cultural Sociology (pp. 3–22). Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bange, P. (1986). Towards a Pragmatic Analysis of Narratives in Literature. Poetics, 15(1–2), 73–87.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bar-Hillel, Y. (1954). Indexical Expressions. Mind, 63(251), 359–379.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Barcia, P. (2007). Cien años de soledad en la novela hispanoamericana. In R. A. Española (Ed.), Cien años de soledad (pp. 477–494). Real Academia Española y Asociación de Academias de la Lengua Española.

    Google Scholar 

  • Becker, H. (1982). Art Worlds. University of California Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Benzecry, C. (2011). The Opera Fanatic: Ethnography of an Obsession. University of Chicago Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Born, G. (2010). The Social and the Aesthetic: For a Post-Bourdieuian Theory of Cultural Production. Cultural Sociology, 4(2), 171–208.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bourdieu, P. (1992). Les règles de l'art: genèse et structure du champ littéraire. Seuil.

    Google Scholar 

  • Collins, R. (1981). On the Microfoundations of Macrosociology. American Journal of Sociology, 86(5), 984–1014.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Collins, R., & Guillén, M. (2012). Mutual Halo Effects in Cultural Production: The Case of Modernist Architecture. Theory and Society, 41(6), 527–556.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Childress, C. (2017). Under the Cover: The Creation, Production, and Reception of a Novel. Princeton University Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Chong, P. (2020). Inside the Critics’ Circle: Book Reviewing in Uncertain Times. Princeton University Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • DeNora, T. (2000). Music in Everyday Life. Cambridge University Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Domínguez Rubio, F. (2012). The Material Production of the Spiral Jetty: A Study of Culture in the Making. Cultural Sociology, 6(2), 143–161.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • de la Fuente, E. (2007). The “New Sociology of Art”: Putting Art Back into Social Science Approaches to the Arts. Cultural Sociology, 1(3), 409–425.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Eco, U. (1984). Semiotics and the Philosophy of Language. Indiana University Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Fau, M. (1980). Gabriel García Márquez: An Annotated Bibliography, 1947–1979. Greenwood Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Fau, M., & González, N. (1986). Bibliographic Guide to Gabriel García Márquez, 1979–1985. Greenwood Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Fontdevila, J. (2010). Indexes, Power, and Netdoms: A Multidimensional Model of Language in Social Action. Poetics, 38(6), 587–609.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Foreman, A. (2016, April 22). As You Dislike It: The Anti-Shakespeare Club. Wall Street Journal. Accessed May 30, 2020, from http://www.wsj.com/articles/as-you-dislike-it-the-anti-shakespeare-club-1461339431

  • García Márquez, G., & Vargas Llosa, M. (1968). La novela en América latina: diálogo. Universidad Nacional de Ingeniería.

    Google Scholar 

  • Garfinkel, H. (1967). Studies in Ethnomethodology. Prentice-Hall.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gell, A. (1998). Art and Agency: An Anthropological Theory. Clarendon Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Godart, F., & White, H. (2010). Switchings Under Uncertainty: The Coming and Becoming of Meanings. Poetics, 38(6), 567–586.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • González, N. (1994). Bibliographic Guide to Gabriel Garcia Márquez, 1986–1992. Greenwood Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • González, N. (2003). Bibliographic Guide to Gabriel Garcia Márquez, 1992–2002. Praeger.

    Google Scholar 

  • González, N. (n.d.). Bibliographic Guide to Gabriel García Márquez, 2002-on. Accessed February 4, 2013, from http://media.library.uiuc.edu/projects/ggm/

  • Griswold, W. (1986). Renaissance Revivals: City Comedy and Revenge Tragedy in the London Theatre, 1576–1980. University of Chicago Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Griswold, W. (1987). The Fabrication of Meaning: Literary Interpretation in the United States, Great Britain, and the West Indies. American Journal of Sociology, 92(5), 1077–1117.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Griswold, W. (1993). Recent Moves in the Sociology of Literature. Annual Review of Sociology, 19, 455–467.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Griswold, W., Mangione, G., & McDonnell, T. (2013). Objects, Words, and Bodies in Space: Bringing Materiality into Cultural Analysis. Qualitative Sociology, 36(4), 343–364.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hancock Rubio, J. (2015, December 21). Los clásicos de la literatura también reciben críticas crueles. El País. Accessed May 30, 2020, from http://verne.elpais.com/verne/2015/12/21/articulo/1450701484_895908.html

  • Hennion, A. (1993). La passion musicale: une sociologie de la médiation. Edition Métailié.

    Google Scholar 

  • Karush, M. (2016). Musicians in Transit: Argentina and the Globalization of Popular Music. Duke University Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Liebes, T., & Katz, E. (1990). The Export of Meaning: Cross-Cultural Readings of Dallas. Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Leonard, J. (1982, February 11). The Mosquito Coast. New York Times, C31.

    Google Scholar 

  • Levitt, P. (2015). Artifacts and Allegiances: How Museums Put the Nation and the World on Display. University of California Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Martin, G. (2009). Gabriel García Márquez: A Life. Alfred A. Knopf.

    Google Scholar 

  • NameExoWorlds. (2020). Approved Names. Accessed May 30, 2020, from http://www.nameexoworlds.iau.org/final-results

  • Peirce, C. (1965). Collected Papers of Charles Sanders Peirce. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Peterson, R. (1997). Creating Country Music: Fabricating Authenticity. University of Chicago Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Phillips, D. (2013). Shaping Jazz: Cities, Labels, and the Global Emergence of an Art Form. Princeton University Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Pizarro, C. (2011, November 17). El balón “Macondo”, de la literatura a la cancha. Radio France Internationale. Accessed May 30, 2020, from http://www.rfi.fr/es/deportes/20111117-macondo

  • Rouncefield, M., & Tolmie, P. (2011). Ethnomethodology at Work. Ashgate.

    Google Scholar 

  • Santana-Acuña, A. (2020). Ascent to Glory: How One Hundred Years of Solitude Was Written and Became a Global Classic. Columbia University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Silverstein, M. (1976). Shifters, Linguistic Categories, and Cultural Description. In K. Basso & H. Selby (Eds.), Meaning in Anthropology (pp. 11–55). University of New Mexico Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Silverstein, M. (2003). Indexical Order and the Dialectics of Sociolinguistic Life. Language & Communication, 23(3–4), 193–229.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Siskind, M. (2014). Cosmopolitan Desires: Global Modernity and World Literature in Latin America. Northwestern University Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Thumala Olave, M. A. (2018). Reading Matters: Towards a Cultural Sociology of Reading. American Journal of Cultural Sociology, 6(3), 417–454.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Vineberg, S. (1982, October 28). Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo: Eraserhead on the Amazon? The Stanford Daily, 10.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wikipedia. (2020). Macondo Writers Workshop. Accessed May 30, 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macondo_Writers_Workshop

  • Witkin, R. (1997). Constructing a Sociology for an Icon of Aesthetic Modernity: Olympia Revisited. Sociological Theory, 15(2), 101–125.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Zapata, J. (2007). Gabo nació en Caracas no en Aracataca. Alfa.

    Google Scholar 

  • Zeng, L. (2009). Chinese Interpretation of One Hundred Years of Solitude. Journal of Southwest University (Social Sciences Edition), 2.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Alvaro Santana-Acuña .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

Copyright information

© 2022 The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG

About this chapter

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this chapter

Santana-Acuña, A. (2022). The Literary Classic and the Underappreciated Significance of Indexical Expressions. In: Rodríguez Morató, A., Santana-Acuña, A. (eds) Sociology of the Arts in Action. Sociology of the Arts . Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-11305-5_10

Download citation

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-11305-5_10

  • Published:

  • Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, Cham

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-031-11304-8

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-031-11305-5

  • eBook Packages: Social SciencesSocial Sciences (R0)

Publish with us

Policies and ethics