Gabriel García Márquez Long Fiction Analysis
Gabriel García Márquez denies that the fictional world he describes in his novels is a world of fantasy. In an article about fantasy and artistic creation in Latin America, he concludes: “Reality is a better writer than we are. Our destiny, and perhaps our glory, is to try to imitate it with humility, and the best that is possible for us.” Perhaps because García Márquez began writing as a journalist, this attitude permeates much of his writing, and this version of reality is reflected in his fiction. A deep-seated strain of antirationality underlies all of his fiction, which deals with Latin American “reality” in broad terms, rejecting the narrow regionalism of his literary fathers. The result is a type of fiction that transcends its regional base, a Faulknerian fiction that one critic of Spanish American literature, John S. Brushwood, called “transcendent regionalism.” A self-proclaimed admirer of Faulkner, García Márquez has worked toward a transcendent regionalism in nearly all his works, with varying degrees of success. His redefinition of realism implies a faithfulness to a higher truth, a mythical level of reality that a more pedestrian realism cannot comprehend. These three factors—antirationality, transcendent regionalism, and myth—are integral to the aesthetics of García Márquez’s fiction, aesthetics that balance journalistic depictions of historical events with fantastic stories and cultural myths.
García Márquez’s first published work of long fiction was the novella Leaf Storm. Asked in 1982 to judge how the young García Márquez wrote this tale, the mature writer had the following response: With passion, because he wrote it quickly, thinking he wouldn’t write anything else in his lifetime, that that one was his only opportunity, and so he tried to put in everything he had learned up to then. Especially literary techniques and tricks taken from American and English writers he was reading.
As anyone who reads Leaf Storm recognizes immediately, the apprentice writer used techniques from Faulkner. The parallels between Leaf Storm and Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying (1930) in structure and narrative point of view are blatant.
The setting of Leaf Storm is Macondo during approximately the first quarter of the twentieth century, and the action centers on an unnamed doctor, believed to be from France, who had lived in Macondo during this twenty-five-year period and who ultimately committed suicide. All of this is revealed through three narrators who attend the doctor’s wake, a nine-year-old boy, his mother, and his grandfather; the multiple points of view involve the reader in a process of discovery. The content of the boy’s narration tends to be limited to his immediate situation, revealing primarily what he sees at the wake and how he feels at the moment. The mother’s scope is broader; she relates information and anecdotes beyond the immediate circumstance, although limited primarily to her own friends. The grandfather’s narration provides a historical account of the doctor’s life and Macondo. The effect of this structure is a deeper penetration into the reality of Macondo than either a strictly personal or a strictly historical version would have allowed.
Leaf Storm is a point of departure in establishing elements basic to all of García Márquez’s fiction. The underlying antirationality of this structure lies in the fact that effects are often apparent before causes, or, in some cases, causes never surface. The reader can never rationally explain, for example, why the town’s priest reads from the Bristol Almanac or why the doctor eats grass for dinner. The novel has the formal elements of transcendent regionalism: García Márquez constructs a story of universal thematic scope—death, solitude—on a clearly defined regional base. One reason the novel does not have the universal appeal of his later fiction is the author’s relative ineffectiveness in creating a mythical level of...
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