Chronicle of a Death Foretold

by Gabriel García Márquez

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Speculate on the absurdity of time as it is presented in Chronicle of a Death Foretold. Consider the concepts of simultaneity confidence and memory. How do these contribute to Garcia Marquez's presentation of time?

The concept of time is a prominent theme in the novel. Garcia Marquez uses different styles of writing to capture and express the essence of time in the novel, from a linear narration to stories within stories, flashbacks and flashforwards. The book is also known for its opening sentence, "Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice."

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Chronicle of a Death Foretold is a short 1983 novel by the Columbia Nobel laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Despite its relative brevity (120 pages), Garcia Marquez explores time and memory in a complex, ambiguous manner. However, I'm not sure I would go so far as to say, per the question, that the book is about "the absurdity of time," since time is an essential and unavoidable part of existence.

Garcia Marquez, in the way he presents the events of the story, does not write in a strictly chronological manner or approach time in a linear fashion. Time is conflated, and we learn that the most important event of the story, the death, is being recalled: "his mother, told me twenty-seven years later, recalling the details of that distressing Monday" (3) The story sticks in the memory of the small village where it occurred, yet not everyone always agrees on the facts, even down to the weather on the day.

The point Garcia Marquez seems to be making is that time is fluid, that memory is slippery and unreliable, and that one story can be told in many different ways. The murder, however it is interpreted, remains important to the town: "For years we couldn't talk about anything else" (96). Exploring how stories are remembered, told, and playing with time are very much representative of postmodern writing, and, though Garcia Marquez is forever slapped with the "magical realism" label, his importance and influence as a postmodern novelist should not be discounted.

*edition used is the 1983 Knopf hardcover

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