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Last Updated on August 6, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 593

The General in His Labyrinth is a fictionalized version of the last seven months of the life of the Colombian Grande leader Simón Bolívar, or "the General," as he is mostly referred to in the book. At that time, Bolívar had just resigned his presidency and, under threat of assassination, was making his way through South America to Europe. As such, many of the most important quotes in this book concentrate on dismantling Bolívar's legend and legacy and looking at him from the viewpoint of a vulnerable human being.

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In the novel, he is suffering from tuberculosis, and his once impressive physical and mental capabilities have severely deteriorated. The characters are even concerned whether he will make it through the next few months.

The General discovered he was losing height as well as weight . . . his body was pale and his face and hands seemed scorched by exposure to the weather. He had turned forty-six this past July, but his rough Caribbean curls were already ashen, his bones were twisted by premature old age, and he had deteriorated so much he did not seem capable of lasting until the following July.

He is a far cry from the young man who had liberated Columbia Grande.

He had fought all his wars in the front lines, without suffering a scratch, and he had moved through enemy fire with such thoughtless serenity that even his officers accepted the easy explanation that he believed himself invulnerable. He had emerged unharmed from every assassination plot against him.

Just how much the General has deteriorated is highlighted by the descriptions of some of the other officers in the book— for example, that of Carlos Santos:

Casildo Santos, a former captain in the battalion of the Marksmen of the Guard who had a voice like thunder, a pirate's patch over his left eye, and a somewhat undaunted notion of his authority.

and that of General O'Leary:

At the opposite extreme was General O'Leary, who was tall and blond and had an elegant appearance enhanced by his Florentine uniforms. He had come to Venezuela at the age of eighteen as a second lieutenant in the Red Hussars and spent his entire career fighting in almost all the...

(The entire section contains 593 words.)

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