One Hundred Years of Solitude is considered by many critics to be the most important Latin American novel of the twentieth century and the most important and most famous Spanish-language novel since Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote de la Mancha (1605, 1615). Written during the “boom” in the Latin American novel, the period in the 1960’s during which writers such as Carlos Fuentes and Mario Vargas Llosa wrote their masterpieces, Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude contributed greatly to the Latin American novel’s placement on the world literary map.
Like many Latin American novels, and the most acclaimed ones published in the latter half of the twentieth century, One Hundred Years of Solitude is what is known as a New Novel. It is “new,” or nontraditional (particularly when compared to the Latin American novels of the 1920’s and 1930’s), in many ways, including its version of reality. Macondo, with its characters who die but return as ghosts, its clairvoyant residents, its stream of blood with a mind of its own, its flowers falling from the sky, its young woman ascending to heaven, and its five-year-long rainstorm, for example, presents a reality that is anything but the one to be found in realistic fiction. The book does not slip into pure fantasy, however, but remains in the domain of Magical Realism. Instead of presenting nonrealistic elements side-by-side with realistic ones in such a way that the nonrealistic stands out as odd, the author frequently describes the normal as if it were fantastic (the description of ice in the first chapter, for example) and the fantastic as if it were normal (Remedios the Beauty’s ascension, for example). The reader’s reaction is to take a new perspective on what is real versus what is not real. This technique, along with the fact that García Márquez bombards the reader with characters and events (the book is approximately four hundred pages long but contains the plot of a much longer book), pulls the reader into the world of Macondo, where the outside rules of what is real and what is not do not apply.
One Hundred Years of Solitude is a New Novel as well in that although it deals with Latin American themes, such as political strife from within (the liberals versus the conservatives) and exploitation from without (the banana company), it also deals with universal themes,...
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