Gabriel García Márquez

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Besides his short fiction, including short stories and novellas, Gabriel García Márquez’s fictional work includes full-length novels, such as his masterpiece and best-known novel, Cien años de soledad (1967; One Hundred Years of Solitude, 1970). In addition, during his long career as a journalist, he has written numerous articles, essays, and reports on a variety of topics, particularly relating to Latin American life and politics. Among his nonfiction works is Noticia de un secuestro (1996; News of a Kidnapping, 1997), an account of the nefarious activities of drug lord Pablo Escobar in 1990.


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In 1967, Gabriel García Márquez’s highly acclaimed novel One Hundred Years of Solitude appeared and was immediately recognized by critics as a masterpiece of fiction. As a work of high literary quality, this novel was unusual in that it also enjoyed tremendous popular success both in Latin America and in translation throughout the world. This work made García Márquez a major figure—perhaps the major figure—of contemporary Latin American literature.

García Márquez’s work has been praised for bringing literary fiction back into contact with real life in all of its richness. His combination of realism and fantasy known as Magical Realism (realismo mágico) sets the stage for a full spectrum of Latin American characters. His stories focus on basic human concerns, and characters or incidents from one work are often integrated into others, if only with a passing reference.

García Márquez won the Colombian Association of Writers and Artists Award in 1954, for the story “Un dia despues del sabado.” The novel One Hundred Years of Solitude garnered the French Prix de Meilleur Livre Étranger, the Italian Chianciano Award, and the Venezuelan Rómulo Gallego Prize. Awarding him the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1982, the Nobel committee compared the breadth and quality of his work to that of such great writers as William Faulkner and Honoré de Balzac. In 1988 García Márquez won the Los Angeles Times Book Award, for El amor en los tiempos del cólera (1985; Love in the Time of Cholera, 1988).

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In addition to his novels, Gabriel García Márquez has published short stories, screenplays, and nonfiction works such as essays on cultural and political subjects. Many of his short stories were published originally in newspapers; virtually all of these have been collected in volumes in Spanish. García Márquez’s stories have also appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, Esquire, and The New Yorker. Almost all of his stories are available in English.


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After the publication of One Hundred Years of Solitude in 1967, Gabriel García Márquez enjoyed increasing international appeal in the Spanish-speaking world and beyond. The initial reaction to the novel’s Spanish edition, which was first issued in Buenos Aires, was overwhelming: New editions were published at the amazing rate of one per week as the public and critics alike applauded the Colombian masterpiece. Reactions around the world were similar as translations were published: In France, the novel was proclaimed the best foreign book of 1969; in Italy, it was awarded the Chianchiano Prize (1969); and in the United States, it was named one of the twelve best books of the year by The New York Times Book Review (1970). One Hundred Years of Solitude has been translated into more than twenty-seven languages.

The worldwide appeal of García Márquez’s masterpiece is widely acknowledged to have been the single most important factor in the extraordinary growth of interest in the Latin American novel. No novelist of the post-World War II era has had an international influence greater than that of García...

(This entire section contains 238 words.)

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Márquez; his use of Magical Realism gave rise to one of the dominant trends in world fiction in the 1970’s and the 1980’s. The winner of numerous literary honors, including the Neustadt International Prize for Literature in 1972, García Márquez was awarded the world’s highest literary accolade, the Nobel Prize in Literature, in 1982.

Discussion Topics

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What are some examples of Gabriel García Márquez’s Magical Realism? How do these examples help shape the text in which they appear?

To what extent do the recurrent themes of his works—love and solitude, nostalgia and dignity, death and destiny—reflect the cultural context in which García Márquez writes? To what extent are these themes more universal?

The General in His Labyrinth and Living to Tell the Tale are both based very strongly on real, historical events, yet incorporate a great number of fictive or imaginative elements. In what ways does the inclusion of the fictional benefit or detract from the reader’s experience and/or understanding of the historical events?

In what ways do the works of García Márquez help to bridge a literary gap between the works of Latin American writers and North American and European writers?

In interviews and elsewhere, García Márquez has alluded to the very personal experiences that are the basis for many of his characters, settings, and plots. What might this pattern suggest about the author’s views on the nature of literature?

How has One Hundred Years of Solitude shaped readers’ and critics’ expectations of Magical Realism, both within García Márquez’s texts and in a broader literary canon?


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Bell, Michael. Gabriel García Márquez: Solitude and Solidarity. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1993. This book explores García Márquez’s works from a number of different perspectives, ranging from comparative literary criticism to political and social critiques. Aso included are commentaries on García Márquez’s styles, including journalism and Magical Realism.

Bell-Villada, Gene H. García Márquez: The Man and His Work. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1990. (See Magill’s Literary Annual review) Includes biographical information on García Márquez, analyses of his major works, an index, and a bibliography.

Bell-Villada, Gene H, ed. Gabriel García Márquez’s “One Hundred Years of Solitude”: A Casebook. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002. A dozen essays on García Márquez’s masterpiece, comprising a wide range of critical approaches.

Bloom, Harold, ed. Gabriel García Márquez. New York: Chelsea House, 1989. Essays by eighteen critics, with an introduction by Bloom, on the fiction of García Márquez. Includes two studies of Chronicle of a Death Foretold, estimates of the influences of Kafka and Faulkner, analyses of narrative stylistics, and inquiries into the author’s types of realism.

Byk, John. “From Fact to Fiction: Gabriel García Márquez and the Short Story.” Mid- American Review 6 (1986): 111-116. Discusses the development of García Márquez’s short fiction from his early imitations of Kafka to his more successful experiments with Magical Realism.

Gerlach, John. “The Logic of Wings: García Márquez, Todorov, and the Endless Resources of Fantasy.” In Bridges to Fantasy, edited by George E. Slusser, Eric S. Rabkin, and Robert Scholes. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1982. Argues that the point of view of “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” makes readers sympathize with the old man by establishing his superiority over the villagers.

González, Nelly Sfeir de. Bibliographic Guide to Gabriel García Márquez, 1986-1992. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1994. An annotated bibliography that includes works by García Márquez, criticism and sources for him, and an index of audio and visual materials related to the author and his works.

Hart, Stephen M. Gabriel García Márquez: “Crónica de una Muerte Anunciada.” London: Grant and Cutler, 1994. A thorough critical guide to Chronicle of a Death Foretold.

McMurray, George R., ed. Critical Essays on Gabriel García Márquez. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1987. A collection of book reviews, articles, and essays covering the full range of García Márquez’s fictional work. Very useful for an introduction to specific novels and collections of short stories. Also includes an introductory overview by the editor and an index.

McNerney, Kathleen. Understanding Gabriel García Márquez. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1989. An overview addressed to students and nonacademic readers. After an introduction on Colombia and a brief biography, the five core chapters explain his works in depth. Chapters 1 through 3 discuss three novels, chapter 4 focuses on his short novels and stories, and chapter 5 reviews the role of journalism in his work. Includes a select, annotated bibliography of critical works and an index.

McQuirk, Bernard, and Richard Cardwell, eds. Gabriel García Márquez: New Readings. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1987. A collection of twelve essays in English by different authors reflecting a variety of critical approaches and covering García Márquez’s major novels as well as a selection of his early fiction: No One Writes to the Colonel, Innocent Eréndira, and Chronicle of a Death Foretold. Also includes a translation of García Márquez’s Nobel address and a select bibliography.

Minta, Stephen. García Márquez: Writer of Colombia. New York: Harper and Row, 1987. After a useful first chapter on Colombia, the book traces García Márquez’s life and work. Minta focuses his discussion on the political context of the violencia in No One Writes to the Colonel and In Evil Hour. Includes two chapters on Macondo as García Márquez’s fictional setting and another chapter with individual discussions of The Autumn of the Patriarch, Chronicle of a Death Foretold, and Love in the Time of Cholera. Includes a select bibliography by chapter and an index.

Oberhelman, Harley D. Gabriel Gárcia Márquez: A Study of the Short Fiction. Boston: Twayne, 1991. Argues that García Márquez’s short fiction is almost as important as his novels. Suggests that his stories have the same narrative pattern as his novels. Includes five interviews with García Márquez and essays by four critics.

Solanet, Mariana. García Márquez for Beginners. New York: Writers and Readers, 2001. Part of the “Beginners” series of brief introductions to major writers and their works. Very basic, but a good starting point.

Williams, Raymond L. Gabriel García Márquez. Boston: Twayne, 1984. A good introduction to García Márquez’s works for the beginning student.

Wood, Michael. Gabriel García Márquez: “One Hundred Years of Solitude.” New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990. This book provides much of the background information necessary to understand the history and cultural traditions that inform García Márquez’s writings, including insight into the sociopolitical history of Latin America and biographical information about García Márquez himself.


Critical Essays