March 30, 2023

#08-296: Three Novels of Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Gabriel García Márquez in 2002 (Wikipedia)

Note: These three novels can give us a "feel" for the work of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1982.

Get Ready: Are you familiar with "magical realism"? What does it involve?

Latin American literature, with its elements of "magical realism," rose to global prominence in the late 20th century, with such authors as Jorge Luis Borges of Argentina, Chile's Isabel Allende, Mario Vargas Llosa of Peru, and today's subject--the Colombian Gabriel Garcia Marquez--becoming essential reading for the would-be literati.

Garcia Marquez has had several novels of major importance. Let's take a quick look at three of them.

One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967) is a seven-generation family saga in which a patriarch, José Arcadio Buendía, in an effort to escape the world outside founds the city of Macondo on an island. But this "city of mirrors" reflects Don Buendia's inner world more than anything exterior, and it becomes the locus of a series of bizarre incidents--a good example of the "magical realism."

For many years, the only interaction of the city's people and the world is through a band of gypsies, who introduce the citizens to such scientific discoveries as magnets, telescopes, and ice.

Nevertheless, "progress" occurs: the city is swept up in politics and civil war; the railway arrives; the Colombian army massacres thousands of striking banana plantation workers. In the end, utopic Macondo has become nearly abandoned, and a scion of the Buendia family is born with the tail of a pig, fulfilling an ancient encrypted prophecy. This same document, not decoded until the end of the story, foretold all the vicissitudes of the Buendia family, including the wind that sweeps its last members and all of Macondo away in the novel's last sentence.

Chronicle of a Death Foretold (1981) is a novella told as a nonlinear narrative about the death of rancher Santiago Nasar. He is killed by twin brothers named Vicario for the offense of taking their sister's virginity before her wedding.

The story is told as a sort of comedy of errors: missed meetings, undelivered messages, and official failures. There is every reason to believe that Santiago will escape by learning of the twins' intention, as they go around town bragging about their plans to kill him, and are even once disarmed of their pig-butchering knives by the local authorities.

But he never does. When at last they catch up to Santiago and chase him to his house, his mother--thinking he is inside--bars the door that he is trying to enter and they stab him right there, 20 times, seven of them fatal. The Vicario family leaves town in shame, and the twins spend three years in prison.

Love in the Time of Cholera (1985) begins with the torrid but forbidden affair between Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza. Fermina's father breaks the relationship up. When she marries a boring doctor--Juvenal Urbino, a national hero who is dedicated to the eradication of cholera--Florentino swears his undying love and that he will wait for Fermina.

In the meantime Florentino has hundreds of affairs, and even falls in love a few times, but he is able to hide his infidelities from Fermina.

At last Dr. Juvenal dies (from falling off a ladder while trying to rescue his pet parrot from a mango tree), and after his funeral Florentino once again presses his suit for Fermina's hand in marriage. She hesitantly accepts, and the elderly couple sails off on a river cruise.


Practice: Match the term to its definition below:

  1. encrypted
  2. eradication
  3. infidelities
  4. locus
  5. prominence
  6. scion
  7. undying
  8. utopic
  9. vicissitudes
  10. would-be

  1. importance
  2. wishing to become
  3. eternal; without end
  4. changing phases; "ups and downs"
  5. perfect
  6. a descendant
  7. elimination; wiping out
  8. a site
  9. written in code
  10. acts of cheating on one's lover

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for March 30, 2023

1 comment:

  1. Answers to the Practice: 1. i; 2. g; 3. j; 4. h; 5. a; 6. f; 7. c; 8. e; 9. d; 10. b