Gabriel García Márquez

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Gabriel García Márquez World Literature Analysis

(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Latin American fiction flourished in the 1960’s and became appreciated as a powerful force in contemporary literature. Along with fellow Latin American authors Julio Cortázar, Ernesto Sabato, Mario Vargas Llosa, and Carlos Fuentes, García Márquez is one of the most significant literary influences in this period, known as the Latin American Boom. His fiction presents a reality quite unlike that in the novels of previous generations. Blending history, folktales, and imagination, García Márquez creates an expanded vision of life. Literary critics have coined a term for this bold interweaving of imagination and reality: Magical Realism.

The bulk of García Márquez’s fiction, which includes social and political issues and commentary, is set between the early 1800’s and the early 1900’s in the mythical village of Macondo, which resembles his childhood village of Aracataca. García Márquez researches details of daily life in the nineteenth century for use in his fiction. He also considers himself “quite disrespectful of real time and space,” and, thus, free to build relationships between different worlds and eras. Because he has “no desire to change a detail” that he likes “just to make the chronology function properly,” García Márquez writes stories that free readers from space/time boundaries and encourage them to take a fresh look at the world. García Márquez seems to suggest through his writings that nothing is impossible.

Through rich and luxurious language, García Márquez characteristically offers detailed images of persons, places, and things. He provides his readers mathematical precision. In One Hundred Years of Solitude, for example, a breakfast consists of exactly eight quarts of coffee, thirty eggs, and juice from forty oranges. Rain falls in Macondo for precisely four years, eleven months, and two days. Such concrete specificity within myth and legend helps to create the stimulating interplay between reality and fantasy for which García Márquez is best known.

Thematically, García Márquez attends to topics and ideas that challenge the established order in people’s lives. A recurring image is a plague that comes and changes all that it touches. García Márquez once said that the only subject about which he writes is solitude, and it is certainly a recurring theme. He also said that all of his books are about love, and that also seems to be true. Frequently, he investigates the relationship among love, solitude, and power, especially with an eye toward uncovering an individual’s relationship to his or her fate or destiny. Themes of nostalgia and dignity pervade some of his more mature works.

Death is another characteristic theme, although the gloomy perspective prior to 1959 contrasts sharply with García Márquez’s more mature work. García Márquez also writes frequently about both the humor and the emotions of aging, from his first two books, Leaf Storm and No One Writes to the Colonel, to his more recent Love in the Time of Cholera and The General in His Labyrinth. He cites his grandparents as the models for most of the mature people in his fiction. Other influences from García Márquez’s childhood also abound: old houses, ancient matriarchs, a sense of nostalgia, civil wars, colonels, and banana companies, among other things.

Although García Márquez’s work shows thematic consistency, his tone and style have undergone considerable changes. His early work was generally most concerned with communicating content through a precise, controlled style. An exception was his elaborate, dense first work of fiction, Leaf Storm. In the late 1950’s, however, García Márquez’s approach became more allegorical, and he entered into a period of literary crisis, a period of severe self-criticism and dissatisfaction with previous work. Caught between his old sparse style and the growing mythical approach, with its flowing language, supernatural occurrences, and hyperbole , García Márquez wrote no...

(The entire section is 3,505 words.)