Gabriel García Márquez Márquez, Gabriel García (Vol. 170) - Essay


(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 Leaf Storm and Other Stories (1972), Ojos de Perro Azul (1972; Eyes of a Blue Dog), La increíble y triste historia de la cándida Eréndira y de su abuela desalmada (1972), and Innocent Eréndira and Other Stories (1978). In his novella Leaf Storm García Márquez introduces Macondo, the fictional village based on García Márquez's hometown of Aracataca that would become the setting for several of his subsequent works. Leaf Storm recounts the story of a colonel and the inhabitants of a small town, dominated by a banana company, who come into conflict over the death of a solitary and unpopular doctor. The story's multiple narrative perspectives contribute to its theme of solitude and reflect the influence of author William Faulkner. In El coronel no tiene quien le escriba (1961; No One Writes to the Colonel) García Márquez presents a retired military officer who waits in a rural village for the mail to arrive with his government pension check. With its depiction of stifling social and political institutions, the novella has been taken to represent Columbia in general, and in particular, the state of the country during la violencia, a period of violent social and political crises that culminated during the 1950s. In his first novel La mala hora (1961; In Evil Hour) García Márquez uses a montage-like narrative style to depict a backwater town torn by political oppression and moral corruption.

García Márquez won immediate international acclaim and popularity with the publication of One Hundred Years of Solitude. The novel chronicles the history of Macondo, from its harmonious beginnings under founder José Arcadio Buendia to its increasingly chaotic decline through six generations of descendants. The novel presents Macondo as a microcosm of Colombia and, by extension, of South America and the world. In addition to reflecting the political, social, and economic ills of South America, the novel is replete with fantastic events—for example, a baby is born with a pig's tail. Characterized by nonlinear narration and long, free-flowing sentences, critics have hailed One Hundred Years of Solitude as a masterpiece for its labyrinthine structure, epic scope, and stylistic complexity. García Márquez's next novel, El otoño del patriarca (1975; The Autumn of the Patriarch), depicts the evils of despotism as embodied in an unloved dictator. Blending aspects of journalism and literature, the novel represents a powerful political statement against totalitarianism and a poignant evocation of loneliness. The novel is written as a phantasmagorical narrative in which shifting viewpoints and extensive use of hyperbole enhance comedic and horrific effects.

Following a six-year hiatus, García Márquez published Chronicle of a Death Foretold, a fictionalized journalistic investigation embellished with the stylistic devices typical of his fiction. The story centers upon a murder that occurred twenty-seven years earlier and reportedly involved people with whom García Márquez was acquainted. Presenting eyewitness accounts that ultimately prove unreliable within shifting time sequences and a surreal atmosphere, Chronicle of a Death Foretold examines a tragedy that is fostered rather than averted by the inhabitants of rural community. In Love in the Time of Cholera, García Márquez explores various manifestations of love and examines themes relating to aging, death, and decay. Set in a South American community plagued by recurring civil wars and cholera epidemics from the late nineteenth century to the 1930s, the novel vividly details the emotional states of the three principal characters. The nonlinear narrative depicts poignant events in ordinary life and the history of the region, blending social realism with elements of sentimental literature and soap opera. The narrative is replete with witty epigrams and playful associations between the physical symptoms of cholera and the intense emotions of anger and love, as well as García Márquez's exploration of the motivation and interpretation of human behavior. In El general en su laberinto (1989; The General in His Labyrinth), García Márquez fictionalizes the last days in the life of Simón Bolívar, who led revolutionary armies to oust the Spaniards from the former South American colonies between 1811 and 1824. Despite his dreams of a unified South America, Bolívar sees his hopes for unification destroyed as alliances crumble due to intrigues, secessions, and military coups.

Del amor y otros demonios (1994; Of Love and Other Demons) was inspired by an event García Márquez witnessed as a reporter in 1949. Assigned to watch the transfer of burial remains from a convent in Cartagena, García Márquez was intrigued by the remains of a young girl with twenty-two meters of human hair attached to the skull. In the novella, he reconstructs the life and death of the girl, whom he names Sierva Maria. His interest in journalism and events in his native Colombia led to Noticia de un secuestro (1996; News of a Kidnapping), a nonfiction account of a series of abductions engineered by the Medellin drug cartel in 1990. The work explores the political situation in Colombia and the repercussions of the drug trade on its citizens. In 2002 García Márquez published his first volume of autobiography, Vivir para contarla (Living to Tell the Tale), which follows his life from his early years to the publication of Leaf Storm in 1972.

Critical Reception

García Márquez has developed a reputation as one of the most influential living world authors. Although his recent works have not garnered the near-universal acclaim of his masterpiece, One Hundred Years of Solitude, his prose has still attracted an eager popular and critical audience. John Bayley has commented that, despite the success of One Hundred Years of Solitude, García Márquez's subsequent works “have broken fresh ground in their outlook and technique, and all have been received with praise and attention. Márquez has never repeated his own formula, no matter how much it may have been taken up and exploited by later novelists.” A number of scholars have debated the merits of García Márquez's continuing fusion of social issues and magic realism. While some have argued that García Márquez's unique perspective on political issues allows him to create imaginative and insightful metaphors, others have asserted that his elements of fantasy distort his social commentary, turning his subjects into grotesque caricatures. García Márquez's richly imagined locales, particularly that of the fictional village Macondo, have frequently drawn critical comparisons to Yoknapatawpha county, the mythical setting of William Faulkner's novels. His short stories and novels have also been favorably compared to the works of Franz Kafka, Virginia Woolf, and James Joyce.

Principal Works

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

La hojarasca [Leaf Storm] (novella) 1955

El coronel no tiene quien le escriba [No One Writes to the Colonel] (novella) 1961

La mala hora [In Evil Hour] (novel) 1961

Los Funerales de la Mamá Grande [Big Mama's Funeral] (short stories) 1962

Cien años de soledad [One Hundred Years of Solitude] (novel) 1967

No One Writes to the Colonel and Other Stories (novella and short stories) 1968

La novella en America Latina: Diálago [with Mario Vargas Llosa] (criticism) 1968

Relato de un náufrago [The Story of a...

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Mabel Moraña (essay date winter 1990)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Moraña, Mabel. “Modernity and Marginality in Love in the Time of Cholera.Studies in Twentieth Century Literature 14, no. 1 (winter 1990): 27-43.

[In the following essay, Moraña provides a thematic and stylistic analysis of Love in the Time of Cholera.]

The brilliant and complex prose of Gabriel García Márquez has still not been sufficiently analyzed for its ideological implications. His “paper human beings” (to use Roland Barthes's term for literature's men and women) both evokes and surpasses other prototypical literary representations as well as the actual protagonists of Latin American history. His patriarchs and matriarchs, his...

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David Buehrer (essay date fall 1990)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Buehrer, David. “‘A Second Chance on Earth’: The Postmodern and the Post-apocalyptic in García Márquez's Love in the Time of Cholera.Critique 32, no. 1 (fall 1990): 15-26.

[In the following essay, Buehrer discusses Love in the Time of Cholera as a postmodern novel that utilizes a traditional thematic structure.]

On a day like today, my master William Faulkner said in this very place, “I refuse to admit the end of mankind.” I should not feel myself worthy of standing where he once stood were I not fully conscious that, for the first time in the history of humanity, the colossal disaster which he refused to...

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Robert M. Adams (review date 11 October 1990)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Adams, Robert M. “Liberators.” New York Review of Books 37, no. 15 (11 October 1990): 17-18.

[In the following review, Adams praises the elegiac language of The General in His Labyrinth, contrasting the work with the fiction of Mario Vargas Llosa.]

Some years ago a society of malcontents planted a large bomb under the roadway leading from Colombey-les-deux-Eglises to Paris. They exploded it almost on time, and blew up, instead of General de Gaulle, a car full of his bodyguards and secretaries. The general emerged from his undamaged vehicle, surveyed the carnage with a professional eye, and said simply, “Dommage. Une belle sortie.” In...

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Selden Rodman (review date 15 October 1990)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Rodman, Selden. “The Conqueror's Descent.” National Review 42, no. 20 (15 October 1990): 87-9.

[In the following review, Rodman commends García Márquez's balanced portrait of Símon Bolívar in The General in His Labyrinth.]

A visitor once suggested to Gabriel García Márquez that a novel exploring the life of Símon Bolívar might win him the Nobel Prize. “I'd like to receive it,” he replied, “after I've made enough money to refuse—without economic remorse. The Nobel Prize has become an international lizard hunt.”

So now, twenty years later, with the Nobel Prize already his, the Colombian poet-novelist has indeed written his...

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John Bierman (review date 22 October 1990)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Bierman, John. “The Playboy Liberator.” Maclean's 103, no. 43 (22 October 1990): 63.

[In the following review, Bierman offers a positive assessment of The General in His Labyrinth, noting that “García Márquez has painted a memorable picture of greatness in decay, both physical and moral.”]

In South America, heroic equestrian statues attest to the glory of Simón Bolívar—“The Liberator,” as he grandiosely but accurately called himself. In North America, Bolívar's name carries fewer resonances, but Gabriel García Márquez's new novel seems likely to help redress that situation. The General in His Labyrinth should certainly make...

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Lee Siegel (review date 9 November 1990)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Siegel, Lee. “Writer on the Stump.” Commonweal 118, no. 19 (9 November 1990): 662-64.

[In the following unfavorable review, Siegel argues that, despite García Márquez's skillful prose, The General in His Labyrinth is still a disappointing and unoriginal work.]

Few writers since the beginning of modernism's long slow decline have had such a distinct fictional vision as García Márquez. What some critics neatly refer to as his “magical realism” seems no less than an attempt at historical redemption—extreme imaginative acts meant to retrieve a civilization from an ongoing explosion of extreme events. His trademark metaphor—the solitude his...

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Michael Palencia-Roth (essay date winter 1991)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Palencia-Roth, Michael. “Gabriel García Márquez: Labyrinths of Love and History.” World Literature Today 65, no. 1 (winter 1991): 54-8.

[In the following essay, Palencia-Roth examines the dominant thematic concerns in Love in the Time of Cholera and The General in His Labyrinth, concluding that “taken together, these two most recent novels demonstrate once again the astonishing range of García Márquez's work and the empathetic flexibility of his mind and heart.”]

After his first surprise best seller, Cien años de soledad (Eng. One Hundred Years of Solitude), burst on the literary scene in 1967 and transformed a group of...

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William L. Siemens (review date winter 1991)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Siemens, William L. Review of El general en su laberinto, by Gabriel García Márquez. World Literature Today 65, no. 1 (winter 1991): 85.

[In the following review, Siemens investigates the techniques that García Márquez uses to demythologize Simón Bolívar in The General in His Labyrinth.]

A common phenomenon of the contemporary literary scene is the tendency to demythologize historical figures, and perhaps the greatest of these for Latin America is Simón Bolívar. In reading El general en su laberinto (Eng. The General in His Labyrinth, 1990), one gains the impression that García Márquez feels the author has no right to compose an...

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Edwin Williamson (review date 18 January 1991)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Williamson, Edwin. “The Myth of the Liberator.” Times Literary Supplement, no. 4581 (18 January 1991): 12.

[In the following review, Williamson lauds the poetic narrative and accomplished storytelling in The General in His Labyrinth.]

In The General in His Labyrinth Gabriel García Márquez displays once more his preoccupation with the condition of failure. The novel begins at the point where Simón Bolívar, the great hero of Spanish American Independence, realizes that everything he has fought for is lost; the dream of continental unity, of creating a single nation “from Mexico to Cape Horn,” has been shattered. Spurned and insulted by...

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Susan de Carvalho (essay date summer 1991)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Carvalho, Susan de. “Origins of Social Pessimism in García Márquez: ‘The Night of the Curlews.’” Studies in Short Fiction 28, no. 3 (summer 1991): 331-38.

[In the following essay, de Carvalho argues that the short story “The Night of the Curlews” is a turning point in García Márquez's literary development.]

At the end of 1949, the Colombian journalist Alfonso Fuenmayor said of his friend García Márquez: “Gabito parece ser el gran cuentista que con tanto paciencia y con tanto escepticismo ha venido esperando el país” [“Gabito appears to be the great storyteller that the country has been waiting for with such patience and such...

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Michael Wood (review date 27 September 1991)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Wood, Michael. “A Bitter Fairyland.” Times Literary Supplement, no. 4617 (27 September 1991): 26.

[In the following review of Collected Stories, Wood delineates the differences between García Márquez's short fiction and his novels.]

Walter Benjamin distinguished between stories and novels on the basis not of length or subject or style but of a projected relation to experience. The novel, even if read aloud, is centred on the solitude of the book, offers rich pictures of the “profound perplexity of living”. The novelist is “uncounseled, and cannot counsel others”. The storyteller, even if working in print, remembers and recreates a world of...

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Iddo Landau (essay date 1992)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Landau, Iddo. “Metafiction as a Rhetorical Device in Hegel's History of Absolute Spirit and Gabriel García Márquez' One Hundred Years of Solitude.CLIO 21, no. 4 (1992): 401-10.

[In the following essay, Landau contrasts the use of metafiction as a rhetorical device in Hegel's history of “Absolute Spirit” and García Márquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude.]

“Metafiction” has been defined as “fictional writing which self-consciously and systematically draws attention to its status as an artefact in order to pose questions about the relationship between fiction and reality.”1 Of course, many literary works include some...

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Adelaida López Mejía (essay date March 1992)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Mejía, Adelaida López. “Burying the Dead: Repetition in El otoño del patriarca.MLN 107, no. 2 (March 1992): 298-320.

[In the following essay, Mejía examines the relationship between the dictator and populace as portrayed in The Autumn of the Patriarch.]

Of course, there is no need of a signifier to be a father, any more than to be dead.

—Jacques Lacan1


The figure of the unburied corpse, which Gabriel García Márquez evokes with an epigraph from Antigone in his first novel La hojarasca, returns in El otoño del...

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Thomas E. Kooreman (essay date spring 1993)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Kooreman, Thomas E. “Poetic Vision and the Creation of Character in El coronel no tiene quien le escriba.Romance Notes 33, no. 3 (spring 1993): 271-77.

[In the following essay, Kooreman illustrates “how the Colonel's language and intuition reflect a poetic view of his environment” in No One Writes to the Colonel.]

A close reading of García Márquez' El coronel no tiene quien le escriba reveals that structure and language are intricately brought together to create a profound character study. The author moves the Colonel through three stages of development. First, he presents him to the reader as quixotic and unaware of his own power over...

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John S. Christie (essay date June 1993)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Christie, John S. “Fathers and Virgins: García Márquez's Faulknerian Chronicle of a Death Foretold.Latin American Literary Review 21, no. 41 (June 1993): 21-9.

[In the following essay, Christie examines the work of William Faulkner in order to expound on García Márquez's various allusions in Chronicle of a Death Foretold.]

It might seem risky to attempt to piece together a puzzle embedded in a novel's plot when so much critical focus celebrates that novel's fragmentation, its indecipherable artifice, and its purely textual, metafictional focus. Although, as is said of one of its characters, Chronicle of a Death Foretold tends “to...

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M. Keith Booker (essay date summer 1993)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Booker, M. Keith. “The Dangers of Gullible Reading: Narrative as Seduction in García Márquez' Love in the Time of Cholera.Studies in Twentieth Century Literature 17, no. 2 (summer 1993): 181-95.

[In the following essay, Booker asserts that Love in the Time of Cholera is a more complex book than most critical readings suggest and links the novel with Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary and Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita.]

Initial critical reaction to Gabriel García Márquez' Love in the Time of Cholera has been positive, even rhapsodic, and most readers have found the book to be an uplifting affirmation of the human spirit, the...

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John Sturrock (review date 17 September 1993)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Sturrock, John. “A Wilder Race.” Times Literary Supplement, no. 4720 (17 September 1993): 20.

[In the following review, Sturrock offers a negative assessment of Strange Pilgrims, arguing that the collection is comprised of “facile stories, too easy on the mind, soft-centred and poorly focused.”]

Strangeness is something that, in his last novel, The General in His Labyrinth, Gabriel García Márquez did unexpectedly well without. That was by his phantasmagorial lights a plain book, in which he movingly spelt out the last few, stricken weeks of life of Simón Bolívar, the deposed Liberator, as he made his way downriver to a melancholy death...

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Amanda Hopkinson (review date 24 September 1993)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Hopkinson, Amanda. “Travelling Hopefully.” New Statesman and Society 6, no. 271 (24 September 1993): 54-5.

[In the following review, Hopkinson evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of Strange Pilgrims.]

“I saw him only once in Boccacio, the popular Barcelona club, a few hours before his miserable death.” It takes courage and confidence to open a story thus, and García Márquez clearly had an abundance of both, 20 years ago as now.

This volume of short stories [Strange Pilgrims] written mainly during his stays and travels in Europe in the 1970s and early 1980s, provides the eternal outsider's view of the local, often displaced,...

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Edward Waters Hood (review date autumn 1993)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Hood, Edward Waters. Review of Doce cuentos peregrinos, by Gabriel García Márquez. World Literature Today 67, no. 4 (autumn 1993): 782-83.

[In the following review, Hood praises the stylistic and thematic unity of the stories in Strange Pilgrims.]

The interesting and innovative stories of his new collection [Doce cuentos peregrinos] complement and add several new dimensions to Gabriel García Márquez's fictional world. In the prologue, “Porqué doce, porqué cuentos y porqué peregrinos” (a short story in and of itself), the author explains how the book came into existence. The stories were written over the past eighteen years, during which...

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Carlos Rincón (essay date fall 1993)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Rincón, Carlos. “The Peripheral Center of Postmodernism: On Borges, García Márquez, and Alterity.” Boundary 2 20, no. 3 (fall 1993): 162-79.

[In the following essay, Rincón discusses the roles that Jorge Luis Borges and García Márquez hold as South American postmodern authors.]

Recently, Peter Buerger tried, like Lukács before him, to interpret literary modernism by resorting to the Hegelian premise that a double alienation between the subject and the object and between ‘man’ as an individual and ‘man’ as a member of a species are basic characteristics of modern (bourgeois) society.1 Proceeding from this premise, he catalogs the...

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Ken Sonenclar (review date 15 November 1993)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Sonenclar, Ken. “Dream Follies, Miseries Abroad.” New Leader 76, no. 13 (15 November 1993): 18-19.

[In the following review, Sonenclar unfavorably compares García Márquez's short fiction to his novels, arguing that some of the stories in Strange Pilgrims are trite and hackneyed.]

Traveling through Scandinavia a couple of summers ago, my wife and I signed on for a three-day tour of Norway's southern fjords. As the group assembled in the lobby of a Bergen hotel I noticed that, except for an Australian couple, our 30 fellow travelers were all speaking Spanish. We assumed that they came from Madrid, and by most measures—their designer clothes, their...

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John Bayley (review date 17 February 1994)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Bayley, John. “Singing in the Rain.” New York Review of Books 41, no. 4 (17 February 1994): 19-21.

[In the following review, Bayley explores the major thematic concerns of the stories in Strange Pilgrims.]

Films can more easily be truly international than modern novels. A film's appeal is less parochial, more immediate, more comprehensive. Publishers are shy of translating and trying to sell the latest fictional masterpiece from Portugal or Turkey or Bulgaria: they know all too well how limited its appeal will be, and how limited a grasp of its real virtues will be achieved by the most sympathetically disposed reader. Even Mark Kharitenov, the first winner...

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Alexander Theroux (review date spring 1994)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Theroux, Alexander. Review of Strange Pilgrims, by Gabriel García Márquez. Review of Contemporary Fiction 14, no. 1 (spring 1994): 211.

[In the following review, Theroux praises the stories in Strange Pilgrims, calling the work “a rich and wonderful collection.”]

These twelve tales [in Strange Pilgrims] set in contemporary Europe, written over the last eighteen years (and rewritten, Márquez tells us in a prologue, in “eight feverish months”) deal with an often brave but hapless variety of Latin Americans, all either visiting or living abroad—Geneva, Rome, Barcelona, Paris, Naples, etc.—who for the most part are...

(The entire section is 470 words.)

Anny Brooksbank Jones (essay date July 1994)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Jones, Anny Brooksbank. “Utopia and Other Commonplaces in García Márquez's El amor en los tiempos del cólera.Modern Language Review 89, no. 3 (July 1994): 635-44.

[In the following essay, Jones addresses García Márquez's perspective on male-female relationships in Love in the Time of Cholera.]

A number of critics have noted what Verity Smith calls García Márquez's ‘growing concern with the position of women in society’ and the shifts in their characterization since Cien años de soledad (1967).1 For Sandra María Boschetto this process begins with Crónica de una muerte anunciada (1981), in which ‘García...

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John R. Clark (essay date 1995)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Clark, John R. “‘The Biblical Hurricane’ in One Hundred Years of Solitude: Bang or Whimper?” Studies in Contemporary Satire 19 (1995): 118-23.

[In the following essay, Clark provides a critical interpretation of the conclusion of One Hundred Years of Solitude.]

—it shall pass, however, for wondrous Deep,
                    upon no wiser a Reason than because
                                                                      it is wondrous Dark—

—Jonathan Swift

Concerning the catastrophic finale in Gabriel García Márquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967), these are the cues we are...

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Edward Waters Hood (review date spring 1995)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Hood, Edward Waters. Review of Del amor y otros demonios, by Gabriel García Márquez. World Literature Today 69, no. 2 (spring 1995): 327-28.

[In the following review, Hood contends that although Of Love and Other Demons is well-written and interesting, “it is less complex and engrossing than many of García Márquez's previous novels.”]

In Del amor y otros demonios Gabriel García Márquez continues the trend he established with his two most recent novels of writing on specific historical periods of his part of Latin America: the Atlantic coast of Colombia. While the events portrayed in El general en su laberinto (1989; see...

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Arnold M. Penuel (essay date summer 1995)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Penuel, Arnold M. “A Contemporary Fairy Tale: García Márquez' ‘El rastro de tu sangre en la nieve.’” Studies in Twentieth Century Literature 19, no. 2 (summer 1995): 239-55.

[In the following essay, Penuel discusses how “El rastro de tu sangre en la nieve” utilizes various elements of the fairy tale genre.]

Like most of García Márquez' stories and novels, the short story “El rastro de tu sangre en la nieve” integrates elements from a variety of sources, but the story's principal intertextual element is the fairy tale. Although the titular image of blood on the snow comes from “Little Snow-White,” the story is a subtle recreation of...

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Michael Kerrigan (review date 7 July 1995)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Kerrigan, Michael. “Heretics in Their Dungeons.” Times Literary Supplement, no. 4814 (7 July 1995): 23.

[In the following review, Kerrigan delineates the major thematic concerns of Of Love and Other Demons.]

In the sanctuary of the Bishop's library, a young priest attempts briefly to read, prays for a time with the ardour of desperation, then takes out a valise belonging to a young female charge. Opening it up, he unpacks her personal possessions item by item—touching, smelling, taking possession himself—before recoiling again in horror and flagellating himself with an iron scourge. If, in the wrong hands, love becomes fetishism, so, when faith...

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Tony Gould (review date 22 July 1995)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Gould, Tony. “Superstition Sets the Whole World in Flames.” Spectator 275, no. 8715 (22 July 1995): 29.

[In the following review, Gould offers a positive assessment of Of Love and Other Demons.]

A novel by Márquez is generally a rich confection, and this one is no exception [Of Love and Other Demons]. The ‘magical’ elements, whether real or not, are all there: a dead girl's hair measuring over 22 metres in length and a horse living to be 100 years old, to cite but two. The language is sometimes close to self-parody, as in the following passage, selected almost at random:

She left without saying goodbye. The...

(The entire section is 663 words.)

John Bemrose (review date 24 July 1995)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Bemrose, John. “Rabid Religion.” Maclean's 108, no. 30 (24 July 1995): 50.

[In the following review, Bemrose criticizes Of Love and Other Demons, faulting García Márquez's prose as overwrought and rigid.]

Long before he wrote One Hundred Years of Solitude and won the 1982 Nobel Prize for literature, Gabriel García Márquez worked as a newspaper reporter in his native Colombia. One autumn day in 1949, his editor at the Bogotá daily asked the 21-year-old journalist to investigate the demolition of an old convent. Márquez watched as workmen broke into the adjacent tombs—and uncovered a flow of coppery red hair which he says was over 22...

(The entire section is 895 words.)

Rosemary Dinnage (review date 11 January 1996)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Dinnage, Rosemary. “Melting into Air.” New York Review of Books 43, no. 1 (11 January 1996): 37-9.

[In the following excerpt, Dinnage asserts that Of Love and Other Demons is “an ambitious book, different from and darker than anything García Márquez has written before.”]

Gabriel García Márquez's Of Love and Other Demons is the opposite of Eco's novel [The Island of the Day Before]: small and spare (some 50,000 words), but glowing with Hispano-American magic that comes partly just from the setting that Márquez made his own in Love in the Time of Cholera: the old town of Cartagena de Indias on the torpid Caribbean coast of...

(The entire section is 1243 words.)

John Butt (review date 4 October 1996)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Butt, John. “Death in Bogotá.” Times Literary Supplement, no. 4879 (4 October 1996): 26.

[In the following review, Butt praises García Márquez's journalistic excellence in News of a Kidnapping.]

On the evening of November 7, 1990, the car carrying Maruja Pachón and her sister-in-law, Beatriz Villamizar, was ambushed in a Bogotá street by assassins sent by the boss of the Medellín cocaine cartel, Pablo Escobar. The attackers briskly killed the chauffeur and drove the two women away to captivity. Maruja Pachón's slender claim to fame was that she was the sister-in-law of Luis Carlos Galán, a New Liberal politician and an enemy of the cocaine traders,...

(The entire section is 2149 words.)

Michael Massing (review date 1 June 1997)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Massing, Michael. “Goodfella.” Los Angeles Times Book Review (1 June 1997): 10-11.

[In the following mixed review, Massing argues that News of a Kidnapping is a cogent and powerful account of the impact of drug trafficking on García Márquez's native Colombia.]

Over the last 20 years, Latin America has been hit by scourges of many kinds, from leftist insurgencies and right-wing death squads to currency collapses and cholera epidemics. None, however, has been quite as insidious or corrosive as drug trafficking. El narcotrafio has filled morgues, bloated economies, spread addiction, turned schoolchildren into assassins and made judges into...

(The entire section is 2133 words.)

Philip Hensher (review date 28 June 1997)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Hensher, Philip. “A Gangster Takes on the State.” Spectator 278, no. 8813 (28 June 1997): 43-4.

[In the following review, Hensher praises News of a Kidnapping, complimenting García Márquez for “giving the reader exactly the right details and leading him through a complicated series of events with perfect clarity.”]

Through it doesn't live up to the excitement of a new novel by Gabriel García Márquez, the true story he tells in this book is so strange and interesting that, even ignoring the fascination of the author's personality, it deserves to be widely read. It is often forgotten, by his legion of readers in Europe and North America, that...

(The entire section is 1300 words.)

John Butt (review date 11 July 1997)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Butt, John. “Captive in Colombia.” Times Literary Supplement, no. 4919 (11 July 1997): 21.

[In the following review, Butt evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of News of a Kidnapping.]

The Spanish original of this book [News of a Kidnapping] was warmly praised by me in the TLS of October 4, 1996, and my enthusiasm has not cooled after reading this English version. The suspense never flags, even when the outcome is known—which is doubly remarkable, since the author gives away the fate of all the hostages in his own introduction. Not that a reading in translation can be the same experience; on renewed acquaintance, the character of the...

(The entire section is 695 words.)

Kate Saunders (review date 1 August 1997)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Saunders, Kate. “Pain and Rage.” New Statesman 126, no. 4345 (1 August 1997): 46-7.

[In the following review, Saunders examines García Márquez's portrayal of true-life details in News of a Kidnapping, arguing that the work transcends both reportage and fiction.]

Between September 1983 and January 1991, 26 Colombian journalists were murdered by the drug cartels who were crucifying that wretched country. One woman, Maruja Pachon, suggested to Gabriel García Márquez that he write a book about her kidnapping by the “shadow power”. Márquez soon realised that Pachon's experience was inextricably bound to nine other abductions at the same time. He...

(The entire section is 614 words.)

Jonathan Levi (review date 10 August 1997)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Levi, Jonathan. “A Nation Held Hostage.” Chicago Tribune Books (10 August 1997): 3, 6.

[In the following review of News of a Kidnapping, Levi commends García Márquez's gripping portrayal of a series of abductions carried out in Bogotá in 1990.]

A few winters ago, I had lunch in New York with a 25-year-old Colombian man who had spent his previous summer on a farm outside Bogota, blindfolded and tethered to a tree. He had been kidnapped from his family's factory (one of the managers was later implicated) and held for four months until a ransom was paid. I told him the story sounded familiar. “García Márquez,” he said, “One Hundred Years...

(The entire section is 1424 words.)

Charles Lane (review date 25 August 1997)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Lane, Charles. “The Writer in His Labyrinth.” New Republic 217, no. 8 (25 August 1997): 30-8.

[In the following positive review of News of a Kidnapping, Lane provides biographical background on García Márquez, his ideological development, and the political situation in Colombia.]


The Falklands War produced its share of sensational stories, but none was more sensational than the one published by Gabriel García Márquez in the Madrid newspaper El País on April 6, 1983, a year after the war ended. It was an account, based on a purported “letter” from an unnamed “witness,” of gruesome atrocities perpetrated...

(The entire section is 6952 words.)

John Bemrose (review date 1 September 1997)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Bemrose, John. “Cocaine's Captives.” Maclean's 110, no. 35 (1 September 1997): 56.

[In the following review, Bemrose derides García Márquez's lack of analysis as well as his focus on upper-class characters in News of a Kidnapping, but notes that the book is still an unforgettable piece of journalism.]

One autumn evening in 1990, in Bogotá, Maruja Pachon and her sister-in-law, Beatriz Villamizar, were being driven home from work by Pachon's chauffeur when their lives spun into nightmare. Two cars suddenly cut off their Renault, forcing it to stop. With chilling swiftness, gunmen stepped up to the vehicle, killed the chauffeur, forced the women into...

(The entire section is 985 words.)

Joseph A. Page (review date 26 September 1997)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Page, Joseph A. “Unmagical Realism.” Commonweal 124, no. 16 (26 September 1997): 20-1.

[In the following review, Page criticizes News of a Kidnapping, asserting that “perhaps the most glaring weakness of the book is its failure to put these events in a perspective that would render them more comprehensible to readers unfamiliar with Colombia's tortured history.”]

Like the proverbial 800-pound gorilla, Nobel laureate Gabriel García Márquez can sit wherever he pleases, even if this means abandoning the field of Latin American fiction he has dominated since the publication of One Hundred Years of Solitude in 1967. So when he decided, as a...

(The entire section is 972 words.)

Alastair Reid (review date 9 October 1997)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Reid, Alastair. “Report from an Undeclared War.” New York Review of Books 44, no. 15 (9 October 1997): 19-22.

[In the following favorable review, Reid offers a stylistic analysis of News of a Kidnapping and expounds on the events that inspired the book.]

In late February of this year, just as Colombia was preparing to celebrate his seventieth birthday on March 6, Gabriel García Márquez announced from his house in Cartagena that he would not be present for the occasion. Colombia, he said, “had become an uncomfortable country, uncertain and troubling for a writer,” and he was exiling himself to Mexico, where he has lived intermittently for much...

(The entire section is 4397 words.)

Malcolm Deas (review date 30 October 1997)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Deas, Malcolm. “Moths of Ill Omen.” London Review of Books 19, no. 21 (30 October 1997): 29-31.

[In the following review, Deas offers a negative assessment of News of a Kidnapping.]

The Hispanic world is particularly reverential towards its writers, perhaps because, through the vagaries of world history, it has not much else to be reverential about. There are the turn of the century poets who could fill opera houses; the overcoated figures photographed on the Paris boulevards, making it, in what Latin Americans still sometimes call, with touching loyalty, the City of Light; the accounts, in the (unreadable) Sunday cultural supplements of La Prensa,...

(The entire section is 834 words.)

Dean J. Irvine (essay date October 1998)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Irvine, Dean J. “Fables of the Plague Years: Postcolonialism, Postmodernism, and Magic Realism in Cien años de soledad [One Hundred Years of Solitude].” ARIEL 29, no. 4 (October 1998): 53-80.

[In the following essay, Irvine discusses One Hundred Years of Solitude as a work of magical realism and places the novel within the context of Latin American postmodernism and postcolonialism.]

Akin to the strain of poststructuralist theory Jacques Derrida practices in his essay “The Law of Genre,” governed by “a principle of contamination, a law of impurity, a parasitical economy” and initiated as “a sort of participation without...

(The entire section is 10514 words.)

Deborah Cohn (essay date spring 1999)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Cohn, Deborah. “‘The Paralysis of the Instant’: The Stagnation of History and the Stylistic Suspension of Time in Gabriel García Márquez's La hojarasca.College Literature 26, no. 2 (spring 1999): 59-78.

[In the following essay, Cohn explores García Márquez's treatment of linear time in Leaf Storm and notes the influence of William Faulkner, James Joyce, and Virginia Woolf on the novel.]

Gabriel García Márquez's first novel, La hojarasca (1955), has often been deemed “too Faulknerian,” and García Márquez himself criticized for not yet having developed a voice of his own, differentiated from that of the...

(The entire section is 10312 words.)

Elizabeth A. Spiller (essay date summer 1999)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Spiller, Elizabeth A. “‘Searching for the Route of Inventions’: Retracing the Renaissance Discovery Narrative in Gabriel García Márquez.” CLIO 28, no. 4 (summer 1999): 375-98.

[In the following essay, Spiller examines the “mythic and historical” aspects of One Hundred Years of Solitude, arguing that the novel “emerges out of a Renaissance genre which used myth to create what then became history while it also transformed existing history into a form of myth.”]

If, as Harold Bloom suggests, One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967) is a “supreme fiction,” it achieves that status as it reformulates early modern narratives of...

(The entire section is 9082 words.)

Nicole C. Matos (essay date fall 2000)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Matos, Nicole C. “García Márquez's Of Love and Other Demons.Explicator 59, no. 1 (fall 2000): 46-8.

[In the following essay, Matos considers the recurring motif of animals and animalistic behavior in Of Love and Other Demons.]

In Gabriel García Márquez's Of Love and Other Demons, the chain of events that leaves the promising Father Delaura exiled to a leper community and the young Sierva Maria dead is set off by a rabid dog that appears in the very first pages:

An ash gray dog with a white blaze on its forehead burst through the rough terrain of the market on the first Sunday in December, knocked down...

(The entire section is 1075 words.)

Gioconda Belli (review date 16 February 2003)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Belli, Gioconda. “Gabo Speaks.” Los Angeles Times (16 February 2003): R5.

[In the following review, Belli praises Vivir para contarla, noting that, for Latin Americans, “being able to read García Márquez … without intermediaries is one privilege we cannot forfeit.”]

When I opened Vivir para contarla, the plane was climbing to 35,000 feet and fear was thrashing through my blood. Just a few pages later, however, Gabriel García Márquez's words would have sufficed to keep me flying even if the plane had succumbed to the law of gravity. I was oblivious to the fear of death.

The following day, back on terra firma, as I...

(The entire section is 2084 words.)

Further Reading

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Castro, Fidel. “Chronicle of a Friendship Foretold.” Foreign Policy (March-April 2003): 78-9.

Castro, the president of Cuba, discusses his longtime friendship with García Márquez and praises Vivir para contarla.

García Márquez, Gabriel, and Jon Lee Anderson. “The Power of García Márquez: Can the Nobel Prize-winning Novelist Rescue Columbia?” New Yorker 75, no. 28 (27 September 1999): 56-70.

García Márquez discusses his role in the negotiations between the Colombian government and Marxist guerillas.

Handelman, Jonathan. Review of Of Love and Other Demons, by Gabriel García Márquez. Literary...

(The entire section is 378 words.)