One Hundred Years of Solitude

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

At the center of this extraordinarily vast yet oddly claustrophobic novel is the Buendia family, whose fortunes--or, more commonly, misfortunes--Garcia Marquez chronicles for the one hundred years of the title and whose story ultimately encapsulates the entire history of mankind, from genesis to apocalypse.

Appropriately, this novel of five generations of Buendias begins with an original sin, the murder of Prudencio Aguilar by the family patriarch, Jose Arcadio Buendia, whose subsequent wanderings lead to the founding of Macondo.

The patriarch’s vision of Macondo as a city of ice situated in a tropical landscape inimical to man never comes to pass. Instead, the city suffers through an insomnia plague, endless revolutions, exploitation by a banana company (modeled on United Fruit), as well as more familiar disasters, including thwarted ambitions and unrequited love. The novel’s central character is not only one family member--not the patriarch enthralled by the wonders of the world beyond Macondo, nor his superstitious yet utterly practical wife Ursula, nor their son, the legendary rebel leader Colonel Aureliano Buendia, nor Remedios, the Beauty who is assumed into heaven while hanging out the wash--but the incestuous family itself, whose history is cyclical, rather than progressive. The same names, personalities, dreams, and failures repeat from generation to generation until both the book and the family come to their fated and sadly lyrical end. Their end is in their beginning, however, in the patriarch’s original sin and, as it turns out, in the (for a time) undecipherable...

(The entire section is 655 words.)