Themes

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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 209

The General in His Labyrinth is a novel by Gabriel García Márquez that examines the final years of the legendary revolutionary and political figure General Simón Bolívar. Unlike his famous works in the genre of magic realism, the narrative mostly follows documented historical accounts of Bolivar. However, like magic realism...

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The General in His Labyrinth is a novel by Gabriel García Márquez that examines the final years of the legendary revolutionary and political figure General Simón Bolívar. Unlike his famous works in the genre of magic realism, the narrative mostly follows documented historical accounts of Bolivar. However, like magic realism fiction, the story of Bolivar's final days is also highly fictionalized. The "labyrinth" in the title refers to the Magdalena River that the real-life Bolivar journeyed down in order to reach the coast.

However, in the fictionalized world that Gabriel García Márquez creates, the labyrinth or the river is also a metaphysical journey towards the spiritual fulfillment of long and winding life of a complex man. In the novel, just like in real life, Bolivar never reaches the coast and dies in the land that he fought to liberate against Spanish colonial rule.

The theme of duality is also present in the novel. Bolivar is portrayed both as the beloved hero of modern South America, and as a man who has weaknesses and flaws. This was a way to illustrated the two sides that all historical figures possess: the mythological public image and the human being remembered by those who knew them intimately.

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