Gabriel García Márquez García Márquez, Gabriel (Vol. 8)

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García Márquez, Gabriel (Vol. 8)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

García Márquez, Gabriel 1928–

Colombian novelist, short story writer, and journalist whose works, including the monumental One Hundred Years of Solitude, are noted for their blending of the real and the surreal. (See also CLC, Vols. 2, 3, and Contemporary Authors, Vols. 33-36.)

It is to be hoped that [One Hundred Years of Solitude] soon gets established as the Great Latin American Novel, for it will mean that Latin American literature will change from being the exotic interest of a few to essential reading, and that Latin America itself will be looked on less as a crazy subculture and more as a fruitful, alternative way of life. For this novel shines in its abundance—of obsession, eccentricity, fantasy, magic, myth, comedy, whimsy, political satire, archetypical beings, romances, folk tales, cycles, and tragedies—all in the amazing single, continuing story of the Buendía family, in the town of Macondo, Colombia, Latin America, the world. García Márquez restores storytelling to the anaemic, motivation-ridden context of the novel; and the combination of his sheer humanity and Rabassa's marvelous English recreation under the guise of translation establishes this work as a green milestone, which makes our fiction shrivel by comparison. The book is an imperative; its quality is that of restoring health—to dreams-in-life, to the language, to the reader. (p. 129)

The Antioch Review (© 1973 by The Antioch Review, Inc.; reprinted by permission of the editors), Vol. XXX, No. 1, 1970.

Gabriel García Márquez is a man who has so far dedicated his entire literary career to the writing of one novel. That is not to say that he has written only one book. It is rather that [all his earlier works] … can be seen now as warming up exercises for his masterpiece, Cien años de soledad ('One hundred years of solitude', 1967). Nearly all his works explore a remote, swampy, imaginary town called Macondo, a backwater in the Colombian ciénaga, the region where García Márquez was brought up. The richly charted town of Macondo is García Márquez's fictional 'world', his contribution to Latin American literature. Yet the Macondo whose hundred years of solitary history is recorded triumphantly in Cien años de soledad had to be built, brick by brick, in its creator's imagination. The earlier works serve this purpose of meticulous construction. For this reason I shall concentrate on the definitive novel. Indeed there is nothing of importance that can be said of it that cannot be applied to the previous works.

Of all contemporary Latin American novels, none has captured the public imagination more than Cien años de soledad. It has sold hundreds of thousands of copies in Latin America and Spain, and many more in numerous translations. In Latin America it appears, remarkably, to appeal to most people who can read. Enthusiasm for it comes readily from university professors, but also, for example, from ladies who normally read Spanish translations of Agatha Christie. The enthusiasm, moreover, appears to be genuine. Why?

The main reason for the book's success may be that it can be read on many levels, and there is a superficial level on which it can be read of very obvious appeal. For this town of Macondo that García Márquez has been inventing for so many years is an extraordinarily dotty place, populated by endearingly eccentric people whose antics are, above all, funny. The novel is full of comic caricatures. (pp. 144-45)

The dead-pan depiction of extraordinary people and extraordinary events is indeed one of the principle stratagems the book employs to achieve its comic effects. Events and personal characteristics are spectacularly exaggerated, made quite absurdly larger than life, yet in a style that takes the hyperbole for granted, as though it were a meticulous fact. (p. 145)

There is plenty of satisfaction to be derived from this book simply in the savouring of his joy in whimsy and much of the novel's appeal lies in the sense of liberation it inspires in...

(The entire section is 3,549 words.)