The General in His Labyrinth

by Gabriel García Márquez

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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

The General and his Labyrinth ultimately follows Simón Bolívar at the end of his life. In its pages, we see a deeply flawed and deeply human side to Bolívar, wracked with weakness and physical infirmity. This Bolívar is deathly ill, and his illness is depicted in stark and vivid terms. He is at the end of his political career, by which point most of his earlier ideals and aspirations have turned into disappointment, with his dreams of national unification still unfulfilled and slipping further from his grasp. In these pages, Bolívar no longer comes across as the brave revolutionary he used to be, a larger-than-life hero and liberator. Ultimately, throughout this book, then, we receive an unyielding impression of decline, especially when Bolívar thinks back and recalls better days from his more heroic youth. All the while, we continue onward through the final chapter of his life, as Bolívar, exhausted and weary, sails along the Magdalena River, traveling toward death. It's not a flattering portrait, but it's a deeply powerful one, revealing the very human vulnerabilities which lie beneath the larger-than-life images we've constructed of our historical giants.

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