Gabriel García Márquez

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Introduction

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

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.

Biographical Information

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).

Major Works

García Márquez's early short stories were written in the late 1940s and early 1950s and are collected in such retrospective volumes as

(The entire section is 147,910 words.)