Márquez, Gabriel García (Vol. 170)
Gabriel García Márquez 1928-
(Full name Gabriel José García Márquez) Colombian novelist, short story writer, journalist, playwright, critic, autobiographer, screenwriter, and children's writer.
The following entry presents an overview of García Márquez's career through 2003. See also Gabriel Garcia Marquez Criticism (Introduction), and Volumes 2, 3, 8, 15, 27.
Nobel laureate García Márquez is included among the group of South American writers who rose to prominence during the 1960s, a period often referred to as the “boom” of Latin American literature. Like several of his peers, including authors Julio Cortázar and Ernesto Sabato, García Márquez wrote fiction for many years before gaining international recognition. The almost simultaneous publication of major works by these three authors—Cortázar's Hopscotch (1963), Sabato's On Heroes and Tombs (1961), and García Márquez's Cien años de soledad (1967; One Hundred Years of Solitude)—together with the appearance of first novels by Carlos Fuentes and Mario Vargas Llosa and the newly acknowledged importance of such writers as Jorge Luis Borges and Pablo Neruda, led to a renewed recognition of Latin American letters as a potent force in contemporary literature. The enthusiastic critical reception of García Márquez's works is usually attributed to his imaginative blending of history, politics, social realism, and fantasy. He frequently makes use of the literary style known as “magic realism,” embellishing his works with surreal events and fantastic imagery to obscure the distinctions between illusion and reality which, he implies, define human existence.
García Márquez was born in Aracataca, Colombia, where he lived with his grandparents for the first eight years of his life. His grandmother's storytelling and the myths and superstitions of the townspeople all played major roles in shaping his imagination. He enrolled in the University of Bogotá in 1947 to study law, but when civil warfare in Colombia caused the school to close in 1948, he transferred to the University of Cartagena, simultaneously working as a journalist for the periodical El universal. Devoting himself to journalistic and literary endeavors, he discontinued his law studies in 1950 and moved to Barranquilla to work for the daily paper El heraldo. During this period, he began writing short stories that were published in regional periodicals, and through a circle of local writers, he became acquainted with the works of such authors as Franz Kafka, William Faulkner, Virginia Woolf, and James Joyce. García Márquez returned to Bogotá in 1954, serving as a film critic and reporter for El espectador, and the next year his novella La hojarasca (1955; Leaf Storm) was published. He worked as a foreign correspondent for the Espectador in 1955. A year later, however, the military government of Colombia headed by Gustavo Rojas Pinilla shut down the periodical and García Márquez subsequently traveled as a freelance journalist in London, Caracas, and Paris. In May 1959 he was instrumental in launching a branch of Prensa Latina, a news-wire service started by Cuban President Fidel Castro, in Bogotá, Columbia. In 1961 he moved to New York City with his family, finally settling in Mexico City in 1963. In 1982 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. García Márquez has received numerous awards and accolades throughout his career, including the Prix de Meilleur Livre Etranger in 1969 and the Romulo Gallegos prize in 1971 for One Hundred Years of Solitude, the Books Abroad/Neustadt International Prize for Literature in 1972, a Los Angeles Times Book Prize nomination for fiction for Crónica de una muerte anunciada (1981; Chronicle of a Death Foretold), and a Los Angeles Times Book Prize for fiction for El amor en los tiempos de cólera (1985; Love in the Time of Cholera).
García Márquez's early short stories were written in the late 1940s and early 1950s and are collected in such retrospective volumes as Leaf Storm and Other Stories (1972), Ojos de Perro Azul (1972; Eyes of a Blue Dog), La increíble y triste historia de la cándida Eréndira y de su abuela desalmada (1972), and Innocent Eréndira and Other Stories (1978). In his novella Leaf Storm García Márquez introduces Macondo, the fictional village based on García Márquez's hometown of Aracataca that would become the setting for several of his subsequent works. Leaf Storm recounts the story of a colonel and the inhabitants of a small town, dominated by a banana company, who come into conflict over the death of a solitary and unpopular doctor. The story's multiple narrative perspectives contribute to its theme of solitude and reflect the influence of author William Faulkner. In El coronel no tiene quien le escriba (1961; No One Writes to the Colonel) García Márquez presents a retired military officer who waits in a rural village for the mail to arrive with his government pension check. With its depiction of stifling social and political institutions, the novella has been taken to represent Columbia in general, and in particular, the state of the country during la violencia, a period of violent social and political crises that culminated during the 1950s. In his first novel La mala hora (1961; In Evil Hour) García Márquez uses a montage-like narrative style to depict a backwater town torn by political oppression and moral corruption.
García Márquez won immediate international acclaim and popularity with the publication of One Hundred Years of Solitude. The novel chronicles the history of Macondo, from its harmonious beginnings under founder José Arcadio Buendia to its increasingly chaotic decline through six generations of descendants. The novel presents Macondo as a microcosm of Colombia and, by extension, of South America and the world. In addition to reflecting the political, social, and economic ills of South America, the novel is replete with fantastic events—for example, a baby is born with a pig's tail. Characterized by nonlinear narration and long, free-flowing sentences, critics have hailed One Hundred Years of Solitude as a masterpiece for its labyrinthine structure, epic scope, and stylistic complexity. García Márquez's next novel, El otoño del patriarca (1975; The Autumn of the Patriarch), depicts the evils of despotism as embodied in an unloved dictator. Blending aspects of journalism and literature, the novel represents a powerful political statement against totalitarianism and a poignant evocation of loneliness. The novel is written as a phantasmagorical narrative in which shifting viewpoints and extensive use of hyperbole enhance comedic and horrific effects.
Following a six-year hiatus, García Márquez published Chronicle of a Death Foretold, a fictionalized journalistic investigation embellished with the stylistic devices typical of his fiction. The story centers upon a murder that occurred twenty-seven years earlier and reportedly involved people with whom García Márquez was acquainted. Presenting eyewitness accounts that ultimately prove unreliable within shifting time sequences and a surreal atmosphere, Chronicle of a Death Foretold examines a tragedy that is fostered rather than averted by the inhabitants of rural community. In Love in the Time of Cholera, García Márquez explores various manifestations of love and examines themes relating to aging, death, and decay. Set in a South American community plagued by recurring civil wars and cholera epidemics from the late nineteenth century to the 1930s, the novel vividly details the emotional states of the three principal characters. The nonlinear narrative depicts poignant events in ordinary life and the history of the region, blending social realism with elements of sentimental literature and soap opera. The narrative is replete with witty epigrams and playful associations between the physical symptoms of cholera and the intense emotions of anger and love, as well as García Márquez's exploration of the motivation and interpretation of human behavior. In El general en su laberinto (1989; The General in His Labyrinth), García Márquez fictionalizes the last days in the life of Simón Bolívar, who led revolutionary armies to oust the Spaniards from the former South American colonies between 1811 and 1824. Despite his dreams of a unified South America, Bolívar sees his hopes for unification destroyed as alliances crumble due to intrigues, secessions, and military coups.
Del amor y otros demonios (1994; Of Love and Other Demons) was inspired by an event García Márquez witnessed as a reporter in 1949. Assigned to watch the transfer of burial remains from a convent in Cartagena, García Márquez was intrigued by the remains of a young girl with twenty-two meters of human hair attached to the skull. In the novella, he reconstructs the life and death of the girl, whom he names Sierva Maria. His interest in journalism and events in his native Colombia led to Noticia de un secuestro (1996; News of a Kidnapping), a nonfiction account of a series of abductions engineered by the Medellin drug cartel in 1990. The work explores the political situation in Colombia and the repercussions of the drug trade on its citizens. In 2002 García Márquez published his first volume of autobiography, Vivir para contarla (Living to Tell the Tale), which follows his life from his early years to the publication of Leaf Storm in 1972.
García Márquez has developed a reputation as one of the most influential living world authors. Although his recent works have not garnered the near-universal acclaim of his masterpiece, One Hundred Years of Solitude, his prose has still attracted an eager popular and critical audience. John Bayley has commented that, despite the success of One Hundred Years of Solitude, García Márquez's subsequent works “have broken fresh ground in their outlook and technique, and all have been received with praise and attention. Márquez has never repeated his own formula, no matter how much it may have been taken up and exploited by later novelists.” A number of scholars have debated the merits of García Márquez's continuing fusion of social issues and magic realism. While some have argued that García Márquez's unique perspective on political issues allows him to create imaginative and insightful metaphors, others have asserted that his elements of fantasy distort his social commentary, turning his subjects into grotesque caricatures. García Márquez's richly imagined locales, particularly that of the fictional village Macondo, have frequently drawn critical comparisons to Yoknapatawpha county, the mythical setting of William Faulkner's novels. His short stories and novels have also been favorably compared to the works of Franz Kafka, Virginia Woolf, and James Joyce.
La hojarasca [Leaf Storm] (novella) 1955
El coronel no tiene quien le escriba [No One Writes to the Colonel] (novella) 1961
La mala hora [In Evil Hour] (novel) 1961
Los Funerales de la Mamá Grande [Big Mama's Funeral] (short stories) 1962
Cien años de soledad [One Hundred Years of Solitude] (novel) 1967
No One Writes to the Colonel and Other Stories (novella and short stories) 1968
La novella en America Latina: Diálago [with Mario Vargas Llosa] (criticism) 1968
Relato de un náufrago [The Story of a Shipwrecked Sailor] (journalism) 1970
La increíble y triste historia de la cándida Eréndira y de su abuela desalmada (short stories) 1972
Leaf Storm and Other Stories (novella and short stories) 1972
Ojos de Perro Azul [Eyes of a Blue Dog] (short stories) 1972
Cuando era feliz e indocumentado (journalism) 1973
El otoño del patriarca [The Autumn of the Patriarch] (novel) 1975
Todos los cuentos de Gabriel García Márquez: 1947-1972 (short stories) 1975
Crónica y reportajes (journalism) 1978
Innocent Eréndira and Other...
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SOURCE: Moraña, Mabel. “Modernity and Marginality in Love in the Time of Cholera.” Studies in Twentieth Century Literature 14, no. 1 (winter 1990): 27-43.
[In the following essay, Moraña provides a thematic and stylistic analysis of Love in the Time of Cholera.]
The brilliant and complex prose of Gabriel García Márquez has still not been sufficiently analyzed for its ideological implications. His “paper human beings” (to use Roland Barthes's term for literature's men and women) both evokes and surpasses other prototypical literary representations as well as the actual protagonists of Latin American history. His patriarchs and matriarchs, his colonels, the lyricism and solitude of his lonely characters, his legendary and magical families, tenuously evoke known reality. At the same time, it is obvious that they are not susceptible to a literal reading. They victoriously transcend mere referentiality and at times appear to be figments of poetic license.
Criticism has generally identified the Latin American question in his work with certain elements related to basic political and economic problems. In this case, critics frequently limit themselves to demonstrating explicit references to a particular period which then would seem simply to lend authority to the documentary basis that supports the second term of the well-known formula, “magic realism.” It is true that...
(The entire section is 6370 words.)
SOURCE: Buehrer, David. “‘A Second Chance on Earth’: The Postmodern and the Post-apocalyptic in García Márquez's Love in the Time of Cholera.” Critique 32, no. 1 (fall 1990): 15-26.
[In the following essay, Buehrer discusses Love in the Time of Cholera as a postmodern novel that utilizes a traditional thematic structure.]
On a day like today, my master William Faulkner said in this very place, “I refuse to admit the end of mankind.” I should not feel myself worthy of standing where he once stood were I not fully conscious that, for the first time in the history of humanity, the colossal disaster which he refused to recognize thirty-two years ago is now simply a scientific possibility. Face to face with a reality that overwhelms us, one which over man's perceptions of time must have seemed a utopia, tellers of tales who, like me, are capable of believing anything, feel entitled to believe that it is not yet too late to undertake the notion of a minor utopia: a new and limitless utopia for life wherein no one can decide for others how they are to die, where love really can be true and happiness possible, where the lineal generations of one hundred years of solitude will have at last and for ever a second chance on earth.
—Gabriel García Márquez, Nobel Address, 1982. Trans. Richard Cardwell
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SOURCE: Adams, Robert M. “Liberators.” New York Review of Books 37, no. 15 (11 October 1990): 17-18.
[In the following review, Adams praises the elegiac language of The General in His Labyrinth, contrasting the work with the fiction of Mario Vargas Llosa.]
Some years ago a society of malcontents planted a large bomb under the roadway leading from Colombey-les-deux-Eglises to Paris. They exploded it almost on time, and blew up, instead of General de Gaulle, a car full of his bodyguards and secretaries. The general emerged from his undamaged vehicle, surveyed the carnage with a professional eye, and said simply, “Dommage. Une belle sortie.” In effect: A fine opportunity wasted.
Simón Bolívar, known simply but sufficiently as the Liberator, also suffered from a script writer with a bad sense of timing. Gabriel García Márquez, with more than a few touches of his novelist's art, has improved on history by changing the account of Bolívar's last months from a slow-paced and solemn funeral procession into a panorama of heroic achievements culminating in sardonic and embittered failure.
The General in His Labyrinth begins at the very end of Bolívar's unimaginably adventurous and frequently triumphant career, and lets just enough of its past brilliance shine through to lend pathos and perspective to the slow, inevitable present. When he died in...
(The entire section is 3292 words.)
SOURCE: Rodman, Selden. “The Conqueror's Descent.” National Review 42, no. 20 (15 October 1990): 87-9.
[In the following review, Rodman commends García Márquez's balanced portrait of Símon Bolívar in The General in His Labyrinth.]
A visitor once suggested to Gabriel García Márquez that a novel exploring the life of Símon Bolívar might win him the Nobel Prize. “I'd like to receive it,” he replied, “after I've made enough money to refuse—without economic remorse. The Nobel Prize has become an international lizard hunt.”
So now, twenty years later, with the Nobel Prize already his, the Colombian poet-novelist has indeed written his threnody to the immortal Liberator [The General in His Labyrinth], and what kind of book is it? Dazzling, of course. And with a jacket painting almost as dazzling as the text, showing the great man's hammock (slung between two flowering trees) containing nothing but a few fallen blossoms, and the general's imperial poncho tumbling among the bric-a-brac of his tragic descent into hell. Far in the distance, under a sickle moon, may be seen a snow-capped peak of the Sierra Nevada that this dying 46-year-old with the decayed body of a centenarian could have conquered (and possibly did) in a matter of hours on one of those incredible campaigns from Colombia and Venezuela to Peru and Bolivia that stunned the world.
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SOURCE: Bierman, John. “The Playboy Liberator.” Maclean's 103, no. 43 (22 October 1990): 63.
[In the following review, Bierman offers a positive assessment of The General in His Labyrinth, noting that “García Márquez has painted a memorable picture of greatness in decay, both physical and moral.”]
In South America, heroic equestrian statues attest to the glory of Simón Bolívar—“The Liberator,” as he grandiosely but accurately called himself. In North America, Bolívar's name carries fewer resonances, but Gabriel García Márquez's new novel seems likely to help redress that situation. The General in His Labyrinth should certainly make Bolívar (1783-1830) better known than a conventional biography might, if only because any new book by the Nobel laureate is a literary event and assured of wide circulation. Still, García Márquez's new work is more demanding than his richly textured and accessible last novel, Love in the Time of Cholera. It is labyrinthine in parts.
García Márquez traces, and reflects upon, the life and career of Bolívar through an intricate and feverish series of flashbacks and occasional flash-forwards. As the book opens, the protagonist—driven out of power by his onetime comrades and ravaged by a wasting disease—is travelling down the Rio Magdalena to Cartagena on the coast of Colombia. He is on his way to an intended...
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SOURCE: Siegel, Lee. “Writer on the Stump.” Commonweal 118, no. 19 (9 November 1990): 662-64.
[In the following unfavorable review, Siegel argues that, despite García Márquez's skillful prose, The General in His Labyrinth is still a disappointing and unoriginal work.]
Few writers since the beginning of modernism's long slow decline have had such a distinct fictional vision as García Márquez. What some critics neatly refer to as his “magical realism” seems no less than an attempt at historical redemption—extreme imaginative acts meant to retrieve a civilization from an ongoing explosion of extreme events. His trademark metaphor—the solitude his characters wear like a crown of ice—is endlessly expansive. His very paragraphs are Promethean: they characteristically present the beginning and the end of an episode before its telling, as if the author never stopped wanting to show his contempt for time as a transparent artifice.
At first glance the subject of this latest novel, a poetically compressed account of Simon Bolívar's life, might seem to be the pièce de résistance for such a large literary appetite. The “Liberator,” who drove Spain off the South American peninsula, is not only the most important figure in Latin American history, but in many ways the embodiment of the history of Colombia, García Márquez's native land and fictional turf. After...
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SOURCE: Palencia-Roth, Michael. “Gabriel García Márquez: Labyrinths of Love and History.” World Literature Today 65, no. 1 (winter 1991): 54-8.
[In the following essay, Palencia-Roth examines the dominant thematic concerns in Love in the Time of Cholera and The General in His Labyrinth, concluding that “taken together, these two most recent novels demonstrate once again the astonishing range of García Márquez's work and the empathetic flexibility of his mind and heart.”]
After his first surprise best seller, Cien años de soledad (Eng. One Hundred Years of Solitude), burst on the literary scene in 1967 and transformed a group of writers (Carlos Fuentes, Mario Vargas Llosa, José Donoso, and others) into a phenomenon known as “el boom,” bringing him and them worldwide fame, every work by Gabriel García Márquez has been published to great fanfare and has been widely reviewed. The books under joint discussion here, El amor en los tiempos del cólera (Eng. Love in the Time of Cholera) and El general en su laberinto (Eng. The General in His Labyrinth),1 have been met mostly by laudatory reviews in all three Americas. Differences in the reception are generally of tone and enthusiasm. In North America the reviews, though almost all positive, usually have been elegantly detached and even scholarly.2 In Latin America...
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SOURCE: Siemens, William L. Review of El general en su laberinto, by Gabriel García Márquez. World Literature Today 65, no. 1 (winter 1991): 85.
[In the following review, Siemens investigates the techniques that García Márquez uses to demythologize Simón Bolívar in The General in His Labyrinth.]
A common phenomenon of the contemporary literary scene is the tendency to demythologize historical figures, and perhaps the greatest of these for Latin America is Simón Bolívar. In reading El general en su laberinto (Eng. The General in His Labyrinth, 1990), one gains the impression that García Márquez feels the author has no right to compose an epic concerning the founder of a nation that never truly came to be. A myth often concludes with the appearance of a new star or constellation, but in this work one of the general's companions comments that there are now fewer stars than there were eighteen years ago.
Accordingly, the author has left a key element out of the myth of Theseus that appears to underlie his text. As Theseus is about to enter the labyrinth to slay the monster that has been devouring his people, Ariadne gives him a thread to follow in order to find his way out safely. For Bolívar there is no thread; in the penultimate paragraph of the novel he exclaims, “How am I going to get out of this labyrinth!”
Throughout the work the...
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SOURCE: Williamson, Edwin. “The Myth of the Liberator.” Times Literary Supplement, no. 4581 (18 January 1991): 12.
[In the following review, Williamson lauds the poetic narrative and accomplished storytelling in The General in His Labyrinth.]
In The General in His Labyrinth Gabriel García Márquez displays once more his preoccupation with the condition of failure. The novel begins at the point where Simón Bolívar, the great hero of Spanish American Independence, realizes that everything he has fought for is lost; the dream of continental unity, of creating a single nation “from Mexico to Cape Horn,” has been shattered. Spurned and insulted by squabbling demagogues, Bolívar decides to leave the country and seek exile in Europe. The narrative relates his voyage from the highland capital down the Magdalena River to Cartagena de Indias on the Caribbean coast, a fateful journey that, in carrying him to the sea, leads to death.
This is not a historical novel in the conventional sense; it contains no grand scenes, no analysis of major events, few portraits of important characters and it shows little interest in ideas or political beliefs. And yet, intensely focused as it is on the character of Bolívar, the novel presents him entirely from the outside; like the faithful manservant José Palacios, the narrator too can only wonder at the mystery of his leader's motives....
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SOURCE: Carvalho, Susan de. “Origins of Social Pessimism in García Márquez: ‘The Night of the Curlews.’” Studies in Short Fiction 28, no. 3 (summer 1991): 331-38.
[In the following essay, de Carvalho argues that the short story “The Night of the Curlews” is a turning point in García Márquez's literary development.]
At the end of 1949, the Colombian journalist Alfonso Fuenmayor said of his friend García Márquez: “Gabito parece ser el gran cuentista que con tanto paciencia y con tanto escepticismo ha venido esperando el país” [“Gabito appears to be the great storyteller that the country has been waiting for with such patience and such skepticism”].1 By that date, the young author had published only five short stories,2 toward which later critics have shared little of Fuenmayor's enthusiasm. These early stories were not seriously studied until after the publication of One Hundred Years of Solitude. Even today, however, most critical references to these stories tend to isolate them from the main body of García Márquez's fiction, rather than to note the thematic and stylistic development of preoccupations that would continue to direct the author's literary trajectory. Perhaps the harshest, and most often quoted, critic of these stories is Mario Vargas Llosa; in his study of García Márquez he labels this phase of production “a morbid prehistory”...
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SOURCE: Wood, Michael. “A Bitter Fairyland.” Times Literary Supplement, no. 4617 (27 September 1991): 26.
[In the following review of Collected Stories, Wood delineates the differences between García Márquez's short fiction and his novels.]
Walter Benjamin distinguished between stories and novels on the basis not of length or subject or style but of a projected relation to experience. The novel, even if read aloud, is centred on the solitude of the book, offers rich pictures of the “profound perplexity of living”. The novelist is “uncounseled, and cannot counsel others”. The storyteller, even if working in print, remembers and recreates a world of spoken connections, and “has counsel” for his or her readers. Benjamin notes—he is writing in 1936—that the idea of having counsel has “an old-fashioned ring”, but makes clear that counsel is not a separable moral or a lesson: “counsel is less an answer to a question than a proposal concerning the continuation of a story which is just unfolding”. To seek counsel we have to be able to tell a story. To receive counsel is to know how to act on it, but not necessarily to have a formula in which we could summarize it.
With the return of narrative to novels—the High Modernists were deeply disapproving of plot and story-telling—Benjamin's distinction begins to look shaky, but holds, I think, if we follow its...
(The entire section is 1366 words.)
SOURCE: Landau, Iddo. “Metafiction as a Rhetorical Device in Hegel's History of Absolute Spirit and Gabriel García Márquez' One Hundred Years of Solitude.” CLIO 21, no. 4 (1992): 401-10.
[In the following essay, Landau contrasts the use of metafiction as a rhetorical device in Hegel's history of “Absolute Spirit” and García Márquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude.]
“Metafiction” has been defined as “fictional writing which self-consciously and systematically draws attention to its status as an artefact in order to pose questions about the relationship between fiction and reality.”1 Of course, many literary works include some element of self-awareness or self-reference. However, the term “metafiction” is usually applied only to those cases in which the self-relation is used to undermine our traditional understanding of the distinction between fiction and reality. Metafiction shows the rhetorical power to do so by relating a fictional work to itself, by including discussions of a fictional work as part of it. Thus, the distinction between the actual fictional work we are reading and holding in our hands as part of reality and the fictional world which the work describes is blurred or collapses. But this also gives metafiction the rhetorical power to create a feeling of absurdity, subverting temporal, logical, and literary distinctions of before...
(The entire section is 4356 words.)
SOURCE: Mejía, Adelaida López. “Burying the Dead: Repetition in El otoño del patriarca.” MLN 107, no. 2 (March 1992): 298-320.
[In the following essay, Mejía examines the relationship between the dictator and populace as portrayed in The Autumn of the Patriarch.]
Of course, there is no need of a signifier to be a father, any more than to be dead.
The figure of the unburied corpse, which Gabriel García Márquez evokes with an epigraph from Antigone in his first novel La hojarasca, returns in El otoño del patriarca (OP) with the force of an obsession.2 In the later novel, at the beginning of each chapter, a first-person-plural narrator describes the dead body of the dictator. Although this narrative voice repeatedly splinters into first-person singular and third-person narrators, it never fails to recompose itself into the first-person plural, whenever a new chapter begins and at the jubilant end of the novel. Such unstable, polymorphous narration might conceivably issue from what Julia Kristeva terms the semiotic chora, “an essentially mobile and extremely provisional articulation constituted by movements and their ephemeral stases” (25). For Kristeva, the chora serves as a model with which to interpret the...
(The entire section is 8912 words.)
SOURCE: Kooreman, Thomas E. “Poetic Vision and the Creation of Character in El coronel no tiene quien le escriba.” Romance Notes 33, no. 3 (spring 1993): 271-77.
[In the following essay, Kooreman illustrates “how the Colonel's language and intuition reflect a poetic view of his environment” in No One Writes to the Colonel.]
A close reading of García Márquez' El coronel no tiene quien le escriba reveals that structure and language are intricately brought together to create a profound character study. The author moves the Colonel through three stages of development. First, he presents him to the reader as quixotic and unaware of his own power over reality; secondly, he moves the Colonel to a stage of self-doubt, a moment of accepting practical approaches to the problems of old age and poverty; and, finally, he brings the protagonist to a state of self-awareness, in which he discovers that his poet's confrontation with these problems is his only means of survival. In his final stage of development the Colonel projects a sense of peaceful determination, which manifests itself in the very deliberate actions that mark the close of the story.
The objective of this study is to illustrate, through analysis of selected passages from the text, how the Colonel's language and intuition reflect a poetic view of his environment. As the reader comprehends this illusory reality,...
(The entire section is 2609 words.)
SOURCE: Christie, John S. “Fathers and Virgins: García Márquez's Faulknerian Chronicle of a Death Foretold.” Latin American Literary Review 21, no. 41 (June 1993): 21-9.
[In the following essay, Christie examines the work of William Faulkner in order to expound on García Márquez's various allusions in Chronicle of a Death Foretold.]
It might seem risky to attempt to piece together a puzzle embedded in a novel's plot when so much critical focus celebrates that novel's fragmentation, its indecipherable artifice, and its purely textual, metafictional focus. Although, as is said of one of its characters, Chronicle of a Death Foretold tends “to conceal rather than reveal” its secrets, this in no way implies that answers to the novel's mysteries cannot be found or that such an exploration is without reward in understanding the work beyond the level of story line. Gabriel García Márquez's technique of dissociating biblical and mythical allusions from their referents (Penuel 188), his patterns of undisclosed information, and the general unreliability of his detective narrator all contribute to critics' hesitation to draw conclusions concerning the central mystery of the story. Yet the existence in the novel of narrative ambiguities, such as the frequently cited detail that no two characters agree about the weather on the day of Santiago Nasar's murder, is insufficient reason for the...
(The entire section is 4385 words.)
SOURCE: Booker, M. Keith. “The Dangers of Gullible Reading: Narrative as Seduction in García Márquez' Love in the Time of Cholera.” Studies in Twentieth Century Literature 17, no. 2 (summer 1993): 181-95.
[In the following essay, Booker asserts that Love in the Time of Cholera is a more complex book than most critical readings suggest and links the novel with Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary and Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita.]
Initial critical reaction to Gabriel García Márquez' Love in the Time of Cholera has been positive, even rhapsodic, and most readers have found the book to be an uplifting affirmation of the human spirit, the author's kindest and gentlest work. Gene Bell-Villada is typical: even while recognizing that overly romantic attitudes are sometimes the subject of satire in the book, he still concludes that Love is basically “a good old-fashioned love story” (191). Indeed, Bell-Villada goes on to applaud García Márquez for his “courage and originality in writing a novel of love (a subject traditionally thought of as the preserve of younger authors) when on the verge of old age” (202). But Love is a complex work, and as García Márquez himself has said of it in an interview, “you have to be careful not to fall into my trap” (Williams 136). Love in the Time of Cholera is indeed a novel of love, but it is also much more, and...
(The entire section is 6497 words.)
SOURCE: Sturrock, John. “A Wilder Race.” Times Literary Supplement, no. 4720 (17 September 1993): 20.
[In the following review, Sturrock offers a negative assessment of Strange Pilgrims, arguing that the collection is comprised of “facile stories, too easy on the mind, soft-centred and poorly focused.”]
Strangeness is something that, in his last novel, The General in His Labyrinth, Gabriel García Márquez did unexpectedly well without. That was by his phantasmagorial lights a plain book, in which he movingly spelt out the last few, stricken weeks of life of Simón Bolívar, the deposed Liberator, as he made his way downriver to a melancholy death on the Caribbean coast. García Márquez had his factual sources to contend with in writing that story, and such embroidery as he allowed himself in impersonating his hero was of a far more responsible kind than anything we were used to from him. The wonderful folklore of his earlier novels had been shelved.
Strange Pilgrims may make it look as though he has now recanted, because in these twelve stories García Márquez is back to fantasizing. In fact, though, they predate The General in His Labyrinth, having been with him as ideas for a decade or more but been written up and published only in the past two years, in intervals of his more glamorous literary work, writing movie and television scripts. The time...
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SOURCE: Hopkinson, Amanda. “Travelling Hopefully.” New Statesman and Society 6, no. 271 (24 September 1993): 54-5.
[In the following review, Hopkinson evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of Strange Pilgrims.]
“I saw him only once in Boccacio, the popular Barcelona club, a few hours before his miserable death.” It takes courage and confidence to open a story thus, and García Márquez clearly had an abundance of both, 20 years ago as now.
This volume of short stories [Strange Pilgrims] written mainly during his stays and travels in Europe in the 1970s and early 1980s, provides the eternal outsider's view of the local, often displaced, residents. It has all the necessary García Márquez ingredients of violent death and magical imagination; physical and psychic suffering and conquest; characters of unaccountable spontaneity and inescapable habits, taken across any age and nationality with the same easy felicity.
For García Márquez is, finally, a happy writer. He has refined his style so it no longer needs to sprawl across the vast canvas of One Hundred Years of Solitude, and condensed its contents so the reader feels s/he knows people and places intimately from the tiniest vignettes. Often touching, often funny, always unexpected, the experience is as enriching as travel itself. From the simple philosophy that all life is a journey, we are...
(The entire section is 646 words.)
SOURCE: Hood, Edward Waters. Review of Doce cuentos peregrinos, by Gabriel García Márquez. World Literature Today 67, no. 4 (autumn 1993): 782-83.
[In the following review, Hood praises the stylistic and thematic unity of the stories in Strange Pilgrims.]
The interesting and innovative stories of his new collection [Doce cuentos peregrinos] complement and add several new dimensions to Gabriel García Márquez's fictional world. In the prologue, “Porqué doce, porqué cuentos y porqué peregrinos” (a short story in and of itself), the author explains how the book came into existence. The stories were written over the past eighteen years, during which time they experienced a series of radical transformations: “Antes de su forma actual, cinco de ellos fueron notas periodísticas y guiones de cine, y uno fue un serial de televisión.” Another story was transcribed from an oral interview and published by one of the author's friends. Two of the stories, “El verano feliz de la señora Forbes” and “El rastro de tu sangre en la nieve,” originally appeared in 1982.
Although the publication of Doce cuentos peregrinos coincided with the quincentennial of the European “discovery” of the Americas, the stories present the strange things that happen to contemporary Latin Americans in their discovery of Europe (“las cosas extrañas que les suceden a los...
(The entire section is 632 words.)
SOURCE: Rincón, Carlos. “The Peripheral Center of Postmodernism: On Borges, García Márquez, and Alterity.” Boundary 2 20, no. 3 (fall 1993): 162-79.
[In the following essay, Rincón discusses the roles that Jorge Luis Borges and García Márquez hold as South American postmodern authors.]
Recently, Peter Buerger tried, like Lukács before him, to interpret literary modernism by resorting to the Hegelian premise that a double alienation between the subject and the object and between ‘man’ as an individual and ‘man’ as a member of a species are basic characteristics of modern (bourgeois) society.1 Proceeding from this premise, he catalogs the variety of narrative modes in which the subject seeks (unattainably) to become one with surrounding objects. The historico-philosophical foundation of Buerger's investigation assumes the continuity of literary modernity and its Eurocentric determination. Is it possible to ascertain a threshold between the modern and the postmodern at a point where Buerger wants to see nothing but continuity? Or, better, what is the “other” that allows the identity of the postmodern itself—as the recognition of the end of Eurocentrism and Western hegemony—to appear?
Against the horizon of new forms of culture and social reproduction, the art of narrative plays a different role today than it did in the early 1960s, when the term...
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SOURCE: Sonenclar, Ken. “Dream Follies, Miseries Abroad.” New Leader 76, no. 13 (15 November 1993): 18-19.
[In the following review, Sonenclar unfavorably compares García Márquez's short fiction to his novels, arguing that some of the stories in Strange Pilgrims are trite and hackneyed.]
Traveling through Scandinavia a couple of summers ago, my wife and I signed on for a three-day tour of Norway's southern fjords. As the group assembled in the lobby of a Bergen hotel I noticed that, except for an Australian couple, our 30 fellow travelers were all speaking Spanish. We assumed that they came from Madrid, and by most measures—their designer clothes, their attentiveness to the tour guide, the video cameras they shouldered—you couldn't distinguish these people from the rest of the burgeoning European middle class. But just hours into the tour, it was evident that amid the uniform troupe there were six free spirits. They argued with gusto, laughed from their bellies, and kept a certain distance from the others. It turned out that the six were not Spanish but Mexican, at the tail end of a summer-long grand tour. They spoke nearly fluent English and seemed to have a lot mere in common with us—being big NFL fans, among other things—than with the Europeans.
I was reminded of that excursion while reading Gabriel García Márquez' new collection of short stories. Strange...
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SOURCE: Bayley, John. “Singing in the Rain.” New York Review of Books 41, no. 4 (17 February 1994): 19-21.
[In the following review, Bayley explores the major thematic concerns of the stories in Strange Pilgrims.]
Films can more easily be truly international than modern novels. A film's appeal is less parochial, more immediate, more comprehensive. Publishers are shy of translating and trying to sell the latest fictional masterpiece from Portugal or Turkey or Bulgaria: they know all too well how limited its appeal will be, and how limited a grasp of its real virtues will be achieved by the most sympathetically disposed reader. Even Mark Kharitenov, the first winner of the Russian Booker Prize, and an accomplished novelist in the classic Russian tradition, has still to see an English version of his work.
But Latin America has been somehow different. The local characteristics, which so often inhibit the success of a novel when it is translated into a quite different culture, have somehow served miraculously to popularize One Hundred Years of Solitude. Critics and literary theorists, in Europe and in North America, hailed the advent of a new vision and a new technique in novel writing, and dubbed it “magic realism.” The author, Gabriel García Márquez, who was already well known as a journalist and story writer in his native Colombia and in the Spanish-speaking world, became...
(The entire section is 3441 words.)
SOURCE: Theroux, Alexander. Review of Strange Pilgrims, by Gabriel García Márquez. Review of Contemporary Fiction 14, no. 1 (spring 1994): 211.
[In the following review, Theroux praises the stories in Strange Pilgrims, calling the work “a rich and wonderful collection.”]
These twelve tales [in Strange Pilgrims] set in contemporary Europe, written over the last eighteen years (and rewritten, Márquez tells us in a prologue, in “eight feverish months”) deal with an often brave but hapless variety of Latin Americans, all either visiting or living abroad—Geneva, Rome, Barcelona, Paris, Naples, etc.—who for the most part are unprepared in whatever environment to live safely or well. They are comic eccentrics, mostly, obsessives and oddballs. A woman makes a living by telling her dreams. An old prostitute is waiting for death. A beautiful Caribbean boy is driven mad in Spain. A widow dressed in the habit of Saint Francis sails to Rome from Argentina to meet the pope. A lonely and ill ex-president, dying in Geneva, pawns his stolen loot to get medical attention. (“There is no poverty worse than an impoverished president,” writes Márquez. “Even surviving seems contemptible.”)
There is great sureness in the stories, although several are too brief, and one or two too inconsequential, to matter. There are, however, three classics among them that...
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SOURCE: Jones, Anny Brooksbank. “Utopia and Other Commonplaces in García Márquez's El amor en los tiempos del cólera.” Modern Language Review 89, no. 3 (July 1994): 635-44.
[In the following essay, Jones addresses García Márquez's perspective on male-female relationships in Love in the Time of Cholera.]
A number of critics have noted what Verity Smith calls García Márquez's ‘growing concern with the position of women in society’ and the shifts in their characterization since Cien años de soledad (1967).1 For Sandra María Boschetto this process begins with Crónica de una muerte anunciada (1981), in which ‘García Márquez undertakes […] a view of women in which, although granted that the outline is more sketchy, the figure is more convincing.’.2 Later in the same article Boschetto nevertheless admits to being disturbed by certain episodes in Crónica, for example when Angela Vicario ‘falls madly in love’ on her wedding night ‘with the man who rejects her like a dirty rag’ (p. 130). Apart from a closing observation to the effect that García Márquez fares rather better when he is dealing with art than with life—a more problematic distinction in this context that she acknowledges—Boschetto does not attempt to bring these two observations together.
What follows is an exploration of the tension that...
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SOURCE: Clark, John R. “‘The Biblical Hurricane’ in One Hundred Years of Solitude: Bang or Whimper?” Studies in Contemporary Satire 19 (1995): 118-23.
[In the following essay, Clark provides a critical interpretation of the conclusion of One Hundred Years of Solitude.]
—it shall pass, however, for wondrous Deep, upon no wiser a Reason than because it is wondrous Dark—
Concerning the catastrophic finale in Gabriel García Márquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967), these are the cues we are given: we read that Melquiades has left an obscure “prophecy” about the Buendia family. We are informed that three sets of Buendias have engaged in deliberate acts of incest, one couple most recently, and that two of these pairs of sinners have as a consequence produced deformed children—infants with a pig's tail, stigmatized with what José Arcadio euphemistically calls “animal features.”1 Now we learn at the conclusion of the novel, as the entirety of Macondo is being ravaged and literally blown away in a cyclone, that this is a “biblical hurricane” (383). I am afraid that that is all most readers need to induce them to leap to the conclusion that here is God's just, Old Testament vengeance come again. Such readers...
(The entire section is 1688 words.)
SOURCE: Hood, Edward Waters. Review of Del amor y otros demonios, by Gabriel García Márquez. World Literature Today 69, no. 2 (spring 1995): 327-28.
[In the following review, Hood contends that although Of Love and Other Demons is well-written and interesting, “it is less complex and engrossing than many of García Márquez's previous novels.”]
In Del amor y otros demonios Gabriel García Márquez continues the trend he established with his two most recent novels of writing on specific historical periods of his part of Latin America: the Atlantic coast of Colombia. While the events portrayed in El general en su laberinto (1989; see WLT 65:1, p. 85) and El amor en los tiempos del cólera (1985) occur in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries respectively, the action of Del amor y otros demonios takes place in the eighteenth century, during the colonial period of Latin American history. In this novel García Márquez explores how the cultural and religious values of that epoch restrain and deform the expression of love between a cleric and the daughter of a marquis.
In addition to the characteristics these three texts share, there are some striking similarities in both form and content between Del amor y otros demonios and the author's other novels. For example, like Crónica de una muerte anunciada, the new work is...
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SOURCE: Penuel, Arnold M. “A Contemporary Fairy Tale: García Márquez' ‘El rastro de tu sangre en la nieve.’” Studies in Twentieth Century Literature 19, no. 2 (summer 1995): 239-55.
[In the following essay, Penuel discusses how “El rastro de tu sangre en la nieve” utilizes various elements of the fairy tale genre.]
Like most of García Márquez' stories and novels, the short story “El rastro de tu sangre en la nieve” integrates elements from a variety of sources, but the story's principal intertextual element is the fairy tale. Although the titular image of blood on the snow comes from “Little Snow-White,” the story is a subtle recreation of “Little Briar-Rose,” better known as “Sleeping Beauty.” Well aware of the symbolic import of fairy tales, García Márquez exploits that tradition to create a contemporary fairy tale replete with symbolic meaning. His fairy tale explores the cultural origins of individual psychology and culturally conditioned modes of being.
Images that confirm the story's fairy-tale matrix are in evidence throughout the text, starting, of course, with the title itself. In “Little Snow-White,” a queen pricks her finger while sewing, and three drops of blood fall upon the snow (126). In “El rastro” Nena Daconte pricks her finger on a thorn in a bouquet of roses she receives from the Colombian ambassador in Madrid: “[Y] luego...
(The entire section is 6855 words.)
SOURCE: Kerrigan, Michael. “Heretics in Their Dungeons.” Times Literary Supplement, no. 4814 (7 July 1995): 23.
[In the following review, Kerrigan delineates the major thematic concerns of Of Love and Other Demons.]
In the sanctuary of the Bishop's library, a young priest attempts briefly to read, prays for a time with the ardour of desperation, then takes out a valise belonging to a young female charge. Opening it up, he unpacks her personal possessions item by item—touching, smelling, taking possession himself—before recoiling again in horror and flagellating himself with an iron scourge. If, in the wrong hands, love becomes fetishism, so, when faith atrophies, does devotion become relic-worship. Where purity is obsessive, the most natural human feeling seems demonic. The less extravagant the witness, the more marvellous the miracle; it is no coincidence that Gabriel García Márquez, the world's leading chronicler of the magical, should have begun his career as a newspaper reporter. It was, indeed, as reporter rather than as novelist that he stumbled on the story of his latest novel [Of Love and Other Demons]. Working on the local paper in the Colombian coastal city of Cartagena de Indias in 1949, he was sent, one slow news day, to the ruined Convent of Santa Clara, where workmen clearing the site for a five-star hotel were to excavate the old burial crypts, dating back to the...
(The entire section is 1351 words.)
SOURCE: Gould, Tony. “Superstition Sets the Whole World in Flames.” Spectator 275, no. 8715 (22 July 1995): 29.
[In the following review, Gould offers a positive assessment of Of Love and Other Demons.]
A novel by Márquez is generally a rich confection, and this one is no exception [Of Love and Other Demons]. The ‘magical’ elements, whether real or not, are all there: a dead girl's hair measuring over 22 metres in length and a horse living to be 100 years old, to cite but two. The language is sometimes close to self-parody, as in the following passage, selected almost at random:
She left without saying goodbye. The marquis never knew, and no one else ever knew, just when Dulce Olivia had stopped being herself and become no more than a nocturnal apparition in the house.
But it works. Like all the best historical novels, this tale (set in 18th-century Central America) reflects aspects of the past which resonate in our own times.
At the centre of the story is a young girl whose distinguishing feature is a shock of red-gold hair which has never been cut. Sierva Maria is neglected by her drug-addicted, nymphomaniac mother and by her father, the marquis, whose occasional frenetic bursts of affectionate activity cannot mask his ultimate indifference. She wanders in a twilight world between white masters...
(The entire section is 663 words.)
SOURCE: Bemrose, John. “Rabid Religion.” Maclean's 108, no. 30 (24 July 1995): 50.
[In the following review, Bemrose criticizes Of Love and Other Demons, faulting García Márquez's prose as overwrought and rigid.]
Long before he wrote One Hundred Years of Solitude and won the 1982 Nobel Prize for literature, Gabriel García Márquez worked as a newspaper reporter in his native Colombia. One autumn day in 1949, his editor at the Bogotá daily asked the 21-year-old journalist to investigate the demolition of an old convent. Márquez watched as workmen broke into the adjacent tombs—and uncovered a flow of coppery red hair which he says was over 22 metres long. It was attached to the skull of a girl, Sierva María de Todos Los Angeles. The discovery led Márquez to recall a legend his grandmother had told him, about a 12-year-old Colombian saint with fantastically long hair who had died of rabies from a dog bite. He speculated that the workmen had found the saint's grave—and now, nearly half a century later, he has transformed his musings into a fanciful if somewhat overwrought novella, Of Love and Other Demons.
Of course, this is far from the first time that Márquez has become attached to something as bizarre as 22 metres of hair. The most famous of Latin America's magic realists, he turned the laws of physics upside down in his 1970 masterpiece, One...
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SOURCE: Dinnage, Rosemary. “Melting into Air.” New York Review of Books 43, no. 1 (11 January 1996): 37-9.
[In the following excerpt, Dinnage asserts that Of Love and Other Demons is “an ambitious book, different from and darker than anything García Márquez has written before.”]
Gabriel García Márquez's Of Love and Other Demons is the opposite of Eco's novel [The Island of the Day Before]: small and spare (some 50,000 words), but glowing with Hispano-American magic that comes partly just from the setting that Márquez made his own in Love in the Time of Cholera: the old town of Cartagena de Indias on the torpid Caribbean coast of Colombia. The time is uncertain—a century later than Eco's tale?—slaves and superstitions, at any rate, are still plentiful, sicknesses are treated with herbs, spells, and invocations. In the harbor float bloated bodies; on a mud beach, children throw stones at a pelican.
In his preface Márquez says that the story sprang from an incident in 1949, when he was a young newspaper reporter. The old convent of Clarissan nuns in Cartagena was being demolished so that a five-star tourist hotel could be built on the site, and the burial crypts were being emptied. (Is it true? In spring of this year, the hotel was still on the drawing board.) The editor sent him over to concoct a news story. What he saw when he entered the...
(The entire section is 1243 words.)
SOURCE: Butt, John. “Death in Bogotá.” Times Literary Supplement, no. 4879 (4 October 1996): 26.
[In the following review, Butt praises García Márquez's journalistic excellence in News of a Kidnapping.]
On the evening of November 7, 1990, the car carrying Maruja Pachón and her sister-in-law, Beatriz Villamizar, was ambushed in a Bogotá street by assassins sent by the boss of the Medellín cocaine cartel, Pablo Escobar. The attackers briskly killed the chauffeur and drove the two women away to captivity. Maruja Pachón's slender claim to fame was that she was the sister-in-law of Luis Carlos Galán, a New Liberal politician and an enemy of the cocaine traders, who had been murdered the year before. The kidnappers belatedly decided to keep Beatriz when the radio identified her as the sister of another well-known Colombian politician.
Gabriel García Márquez's latest book [Noticia de un secuestro], which will appear in English translation soon, gives a detailed account of the atrocities inflicted on these women and on several of the other hostages Escobar had kidnapped at about the same time, in particular Marina Montoya, the sister of the former Secretary-General of the Presidency, and Diana Turbay, the daughter of the previous President. There is much which must not be revealed in this review, since the novel relies on suspense, but the fate of Marina Montoya, described...
(The entire section is 2149 words.)
SOURCE: Massing, Michael. “Goodfella.” Los Angeles Times Book Review (1 June 1997): 10-11.
[In the following mixed review, Massing argues that News of a Kidnapping is a cogent and powerful account of the impact of drug trafficking on García Márquez's native Colombia.]
Over the last 20 years, Latin America has been hit by scourges of many kinds, from leftist insurgencies and right-wing death squads to currency collapses and cholera epidemics. None, however, has been quite as insidious or corrosive as drug trafficking. El narcotrafio has filled morgues, bloated economies, spread addiction, turned schoolchildren into assassins and made judges into martyrs. So macabre and malevolent have been its effects that only a writer of unsurpassed descriptive powers could hope to do justice to them. And at long last, Latin America's most acclaimed writer has accepted the challenge. Gabriel García Márquez, whose One Hundred Years of Solitude probably ranks as the most evocative account of life in Latin America ever written, has, in News of a Kidnapping, attempted to capture the essence of narcotics trafficking and the calamitous impact it has had on his native Colombia.
In writing One Hundred Years of Solitude, García Márquez, seeking to convey the surreal quality of life in rural Colombia, felt called upon to create a whole new genre of fiction, known as...
(The entire section is 2133 words.)
SOURCE: Hensher, Philip. “A Gangster Takes on the State.” Spectator 278, no. 8813 (28 June 1997): 43-4.
[In the following review, Hensher praises News of a Kidnapping, complimenting García Márquez for “giving the reader exactly the right details and leading him through a complicated series of events with perfect clarity.”]
Through it doesn't live up to the excitement of a new novel by Gabriel García Márquez, the true story he tells in this book is so strange and interesting that, even ignoring the fascination of the author's personality, it deserves to be widely read. It is often forgotten, by his legion of readers in Europe and North America, that he is a Colombian novelist. He seems, in his plain, visionary novels, to be too big to be confined by national borders; he appears to us to belong first, to Latin America as a whole, and then to the world. What this excellent book reminds us of is that he does not see himself in quite that light, nor do his first and best readers think of him as an international novelist. For them—for his Colombian readers—he is a writer of wonderful specificity, whose books are not the magical realist fantasies they are usually taken for in the West, but careful analyses of real situations. In News of a Kidnapping he makes no pretence of invention; and yet the splendid result, in its imaginative force and depth of thought, goes well beyond what...
(The entire section is 1300 words.)
SOURCE: Butt, John. “Captive in Colombia.” Times Literary Supplement, no. 4919 (11 July 1997): 21.
[In the following review, Butt evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of News of a Kidnapping.]
The Spanish original of this book [News of a Kidnapping] was warmly praised by me in the TLS of October 4, 1996, and my enthusiasm has not cooled after reading this English version. The suspense never flags, even when the outcome is known—which is doubly remarkable, since the author gives away the fate of all the hostages in his own introduction. Not that a reading in translation can be the same experience; on renewed acquaintance, the character of the psychopath Escobar grows in complexity and mystery, as does the troublingly ambiguous relationship between him and Villamizar, the husband of one of the captives. These two seem inhibited by a grudging and irrational mutual respect that probably reflects the moral and political inconsistencies typical both of the vicious chaos of Colombia and of most of García Márquez's writing.
The book recreates, from interviews and diaries, the events surrounding the brutal kidnapping of several Colombian notables by the thugs of Pablo Escobar, the billionaire godfather of the Medellín cocaine cartel. Since it is presented as a factual account of real events, it is far from the magic realism that García Márquez is known for. At its...
(The entire section is 695 words.)
SOURCE: Saunders, Kate. “Pain and Rage.” New Statesman 126, no. 4345 (1 August 1997): 46-7.
[In the following review, Saunders examines García Márquez's portrayal of true-life details in News of a Kidnapping, arguing that the work transcends both reportage and fiction.]
Between September 1983 and January 1991, 26 Colombian journalists were murdered by the drug cartels who were crucifying that wretched country. One woman, Maruja Pachon, suggested to Gabriel García Márquez that he write a book about her kidnapping by the “shadow power”. Márquez soon realised that Pachon's experience was inextricably bound to nine other abductions at the same time. He expanded the narrative to include the kidnappings of Diana Turbay and her film crew, and the newspaperman Pacho Santos.
“Their pain, their patience and their rage,” he says, “gave me the courage to persist in this autumnal task, the saddest and most difficult of my life.”
In the hands of the great Colombian storyteller, News of a Kidnapping grew into a tragedy at once personal, national and international. This is neither straight reportage nor fiction; Márquez's brilliant “j'accuse” embraces and transcends both.
In November 1990 Maruja, a prominent journalist, and her sister-in-law, Beatriz, are kidnapped on their way home from work in Bogota. The gunmen are...
(The entire section is 614 words.)
SOURCE: Levi, Jonathan. “A Nation Held Hostage.” Chicago Tribune Books (10 August 1997): 3, 6.
[In the following review of News of a Kidnapping, Levi commends García Márquez's gripping portrayal of a series of abductions carried out in Bogotá in 1990.]
A few winters ago, I had lunch in New York with a 25-year-old Colombian man who had spent his previous summer on a farm outside Bogota, blindfolded and tethered to a tree. He had been kidnapped from his family's factory (one of the managers was later implicated) and held for four months until a ransom was paid. I told him the story sounded familiar. “García Márquez,” he said, “One Hundred Years of Solitude.” I remembered the scene from that remarkable book. The old man, the patriarch of the family, José Arcadio Buendia, goes mad and is tethered, one end of a rope around his waist, the other around a large chestnut tree. “I asked the guards,” my friend said. “They answered, yes, they had read the book. That's where they got the idea.”
It is not an exaggeration to say that as many Colombians have been touched by kidnappings as have been touched by the books of Gabriel García Márquez, the Nobel laureate and supreme commander of Latin American writers. So there is something oxymoronic in the title of García Márquez's latest book, the non-fictional News of a Kidnapping. Kidnappings are not...
(The entire section is 1424 words.)
SOURCE: Lane, Charles. “The Writer in His Labyrinth.” New Republic 217, no. 8 (25 August 1997): 30-8.
[In the following positive review of News of a Kidnapping, Lane provides biographical background on García Márquez, his ideological development, and the political situation in Colombia.]
The Falklands War produced its share of sensational stories, but none was more sensational than the one published by Gabriel García Márquez in the Madrid newspaper El País on April 6, 1983, a year after the war ended. It was an account, based on a purported “letter” from an unnamed “witness,” of gruesome atrocities perpetrated by the British Army's Nepalese auxiliaries, the Gurkhas, García Márquez, who had won the Nobel Prize for Literature the year before, wrote that the “legendary and ferocious Nepalese decapitators,” wielding “assassins' scimitars,” beheaded one Argentine prisoner “every seven seconds.” And “because of some strange custom they held up the severed head by the hair and cut off the ears.” The “beasts were so crazed,” García Márquez reported, that “they continued killing the English themselves, until the English had to subdue them with handcuffs.”
There was one problem with García Márquez's story. Nothing remotely like it had actually taken place. The only kernel of truth was that the Gurkhas, who...
(The entire section is 6952 words.)
SOURCE: Bemrose, John. “Cocaine's Captives.” Maclean's 110, no. 35 (1 September 1997): 56.
[In the following review, Bemrose derides García Márquez's lack of analysis as well as his focus on upper-class characters in News of a Kidnapping, but notes that the book is still an unforgettable piece of journalism.]
One autumn evening in 1990, in Bogotá, Maruja Pachon and her sister-in-law, Beatriz Villamizar, were being driven home from work by Pachon's chauffeur when their lives spun into nightmare. Two cars suddenly cut off their Renault, forcing it to stop. With chilling swiftness, gunmen stepped up to the vehicle, killed the chauffeur, forced the women into their own vehicles and drove off. Pachon and Villamizar had just become pawns in a murderous, long-term confrontation between the Colombian government and Pablo Escobar, the head of the country's notorious international drug trade. The two women—they both worked for a government agency promoting the country's films—were valuable to Escobar because they had strong family connections to several politicians who had waged war against the drug trade. They were at the beginning of an ordeal that would last six months—in a fetid, windowless room where the lights were never turned off, and their guards' guns were ever at the ready.
Pachon and Villamizar are among the 10 kidnapping victims whose stories are chronicled in...
(The entire section is 985 words.)
SOURCE: Page, Joseph A. “Unmagical Realism.” Commonweal 124, no. 16 (26 September 1997): 20-1.
[In the following review, Page criticizes News of a Kidnapping, asserting that “perhaps the most glaring weakness of the book is its failure to put these events in a perspective that would render them more comprehensible to readers unfamiliar with Colombia's tortured history.”]
Like the proverbial 800-pound gorilla, Nobel laureate Gabriel García Márquez can sit wherever he pleases, even if this means abandoning the field of Latin American fiction he has dominated since the publication of One Hundred Years of Solitude in 1967. So when he decided, as a personal favor to one of the victims, to write a nonfictional account of a series of drug-trafficking-related kidnappings in his native Colombia in 1990, there could be no doubt that his endeavor would find its way into print.
Unfortunately, neither the substantive content nor the literary qualities of News of a Kidnapping come near matching the dimensions of his generous impulse. The book takes as its subject an episode that will scarcely rate as a blip on the radar screen of Colombia's recent history. Moreover, the author's terse style recalls his early career as a journalist, and reflects a conscious choice to let the hostages tell their own stories without impressing upon them the stamp of the García Márquez...
(The entire section is 972 words.)
SOURCE: Reid, Alastair. “Report from an Undeclared War.” New York Review of Books 44, no. 15 (9 October 1997): 19-22.
[In the following favorable review, Reid offers a stylistic analysis of News of a Kidnapping and expounds on the events that inspired the book.]
In late February of this year, just as Colombia was preparing to celebrate his seventieth birthday on March 6, Gabriel García Márquez announced from his house in Cartagena that he would not be present for the occasion. Colombia, he said, “had become an uncomfortable country, uncertain and troubling for a writer,” and he was exiling himself to Mexico, where he has lived intermittently for much of his writing life.
The reaction of most Colombians was more sorrowful than angry, although a few irritated columns appeared in the press. Even so, the country went ahead with its celebrations, and the newspapers of March 6 not only took notice of the event on their front pages, but reviewed the long and fruitful writing career of their Nobel laureate and carried reminiscences of his early unheralded days by some of his oldest friends. Caracol, the radio channel to which many Colombians are addicted, ran a whole morning of remembrances, but on this occasion there was no word at all from the writer himself. Unlike the majority of Colombians, he had the choice of living elsewhere.
Colombians, however, are...
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SOURCE: Deas, Malcolm. “Moths of Ill Omen.” London Review of Books 19, no. 21 (30 October 1997): 29-31.
[In the following review, Deas offers a negative assessment of News of a Kidnapping.]
The Hispanic world is particularly reverential towards its writers, perhaps because, through the vagaries of world history, it has not much else to be reverential about. There are the turn of the century poets who could fill opera houses; the overcoated figures photographed on the Paris boulevards, making it, in what Latin Americans still sometimes call, with touching loyalty, the City of Light; the accounts, in the (unreadable) Sunday cultural supplements of La Prensa, El Universal, El Tiempo, or in certain beautifully printed but contentless monthly reviews, of breakfast conversations in New England when the revered poet was in residence on some campus or other. Matchless friends, great souls, universal intelligences, and often even accomplished cooks. Think how the shadow of Gabriel García Márquez has loomed over Colombia. Thirty years ago he published One Hundred Years of Solitude, the foundation stone of an unmanageable fame rivalled in the Spanish-speaking world only by Fidel Castro—a possible reason for their friendship—and not by many outside it.
A hundred years before One Hundred Years came out, Jorge Isaacs published his María, a tale of...
(The entire section is 834 words.)
SOURCE: Irvine, Dean J. “Fables of the Plague Years: Postcolonialism, Postmodernism, and Magic Realism in Cien años de soledad [One Hundred Years of Solitude].” ARIEL 29, no. 4 (October 1998): 53-80.
[In the following essay, Irvine discusses One Hundred Years of Solitude as a work of magical realism and places the novel within the context of Latin American postmodernism and postcolonialism.]
Akin to the strain of poststructuralist theory Jacques Derrida practices in his essay “The Law of Genre,” governed by “a principle of contamination, a law of impurity, a parasitical economy” and initiated as “a sort of participation without belonging—a taking part in without being part of” (59), the diagnostic method of this paper purports to enchain strains of postcolonialism and postmodernism as a model for the theory and practice of magic realism in Gabriel García Márquez's Cien años de soledad [One Hundred Years of Solitude].1 The model of magic realism under construction here is a double-helix: postcolonialism as one genetic strand, postmodernism as the other. In this model, magic realism and the magic realist text are collocated in the twists and gaps of this double discourse, that is, the discursive of enchainment of postcolonialism and postmodernism.
In the essays collected by Lois Parkinson Zamora and Wendy B. Faris for the...
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SOURCE: Cohn, Deborah. “‘The Paralysis of the Instant’: The Stagnation of History and the Stylistic Suspension of Time in Gabriel García Márquez's La hojarasca.” College Literature 26, no. 2 (spring 1999): 59-78.
[In the following essay, Cohn explores García Márquez's treatment of linear time in Leaf Storm and notes the influence of William Faulkner, James Joyce, and Virginia Woolf on the novel.]
Gabriel García Márquez's first novel, La hojarasca (1955), has often been deemed “too Faulknerian,” and García Márquez himself criticized for not yet having developed a voice of his own, differentiated from that of the southerner.1 To be sure, García Márquez's early journalistic writings clearly reflect his fascination with Faulkner: in April of 1950, he called the southerner “lo más extraordinario que tiene la novela del mundo moderno” [the most extraordinary thing that the novel of the modern world offers],2 and predicted that the Nobel Prize Selection Committee would, lamentably, bypass Faulkner and choose instead to honor the Venezuelan Rómulo Gallegos that year, in the same way that it had previously overlooked James Joyce in favor of Pearl S. Buck, and for the same presumably shortsighted reasons that it had withheld the honor from Marcel Proust and Virginia Woolf. Happily, several months later García Márquez was proven incorrect, and...
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SOURCE: Spiller, Elizabeth A. “‘Searching for the Route of Inventions’: Retracing the Renaissance Discovery Narrative in Gabriel García Márquez.” CLIO 28, no. 4 (summer 1999): 375-98.
[In the following essay, Spiller examines the “mythic and historical” aspects of One Hundred Years of Solitude, arguing that the novel “emerges out of a Renaissance genre which used myth to create what then became history while it also transformed existing history into a form of myth.”]
If, as Harold Bloom suggests, One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967) is a “supreme fiction,” it achieves that status as it reformulates early modern narratives of self-discovery and dominion.1 García Márquez signals his intention of rewriting the great Renaissance narratives of discovery when he begins his 1982 Nobel Prize acceptance speech with an account of Antonio Pigafetta's Viaggio attorno al mondo (1522). As a navigator aboard Magellan's 1519-21 voyage around the world, Pigafetta kept a log that García Márquez categorizes as an ancestor “of our contemporary novels.”2 Where many Latin American writers might describe their work as postcolonial, García Márquez here suggests that his writing is post-Columbian. In One Hundred Years of Solitude, García Márquez defines for his reader what it means to experience the world from the perspective of post-Columbian...
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SOURCE: Matos, Nicole C. “García Márquez's Of Love and Other Demons.” Explicator 59, no. 1 (fall 2000): 46-8.
[In the following essay, Matos considers the recurring motif of animals and animalistic behavior in Of Love and Other Demons.]
In Gabriel García Márquez's Of Love and Other Demons, the chain of events that leaves the promising Father Delaura exiled to a leper community and the young Sierva Maria dead is set off by a rabid dog that appears in the very first pages:
An ash gray dog with a white blaze on its forehead burst through the rough terrain of the market on the first Sunday in December, knocked down tables of fried food, overturned Indians' stalls and lottery kiosks, and bit four people who happened to cross its path. Three of them were black slaves. The fourth, Sierva Maria [… was] the only child of the Marquis de Casalduero […].
The image of a rabid dog encroaching on a cherished human space and wreaking havoc without regard to race or other social constructions introduces the subtle threat to colonial culture that animals, wild or domesticated, often embody in the novel. Animals and animalistic behavior eventually emerge in the novel as a paradoxically evocative motif—represented simultaneously as fascinating and repulsive.
The strange liminal space...
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SOURCE: Belli, Gioconda. “Gabo Speaks.” Los Angeles Times (16 February 2003): R5.
[In the following review, Belli praises Vivir para contarla, noting that, for Latin Americans, “being able to read García Márquez … without intermediaries is one privilege we cannot forfeit.”]
When I opened Vivir para contarla, the plane was climbing to 35,000 feet and fear was thrashing through my blood. Just a few pages later, however, Gabriel García Márquez's words would have sufficed to keep me flying even if the plane had succumbed to the law of gravity. I was oblivious to the fear of death.
The following day, back on terra firma, as I continued to read, such contentment came over me that I treated myself to a long and leisurely bath scented with aromatic salts while Cecilia Garcia Amaro's sensuous music played in the background. Furthermore, I was seized by a ferocious urge to eat chocolate. My body makes no mistake, I thought; this is a great book.
The plane on which I began reading García Márquez's memoirs was taking me back to Los Angeles from Managua. I'd been in Nicaragua to celebrate New Year's with my family. I'd covered all the bookstores in the city, growing more and more disappointed because the answer I got in all of them was the same: “García Márquez's book? Uh, we're all out of it. It sold out. We haven't got a single copy left.”...
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Castro, Fidel. “Chronicle of a Friendship Foretold.” Foreign Policy (March-April 2003): 78-9.
Castro, the president of Cuba, discusses his longtime friendship with García Márquez and praises Vivir para contarla.
García Márquez, Gabriel, and Jon Lee Anderson. “The Power of García Márquez: Can the Nobel Prize-winning Novelist Rescue Columbia?” New Yorker 75, no. 28 (27 September 1999): 56-70.
García Márquez discusses his role in the negotiations between the Colombian government and Marxist guerillas.
Handelman, Jonathan. Review of Of Love and Other Demons, by Gabriel García Márquez. Literary Review 42, no. 4 (summer 1999): 635.
Handelman explores Of Love and Other Demons as a postmodern novel, noting that “there is a strong continuity between this novel and others within the admittedly vague compass of the genre.”
Marting, Diane E. “The End of Eréndira's Prostitution.” Hispanic Review 69, no. 2 (spring 2001): 175-90.
Marting examines the portrayal of prostitution in García Márquez's short story “La increíble y triste historia de la cándida Eréndira y de su abuela desalmada.”
Paternostro, Silvana. “Three Days with Gabo.” Paris Review 38, no. 141 (winter 1996): 220-47.
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