Every Tuesday, I like to share a learning tidbit on literature. Today, Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s greatest work (in my humble opinion) 100 Years of Solitude struck me as a good choice.
His epic novel follows the complete lineage of one family in a poetic and touching way. His word choice is descriptive, eloquent, and mixes the realms of reality and fantasy so well that it is easy to be lost in the world which he creates. In fact, in an attempt to escape from the burdens of college, I once spent a few days locked in my room reading this novel and eating saltines. It might have been a better choice to actually go to class.
Regardless, published in 1967, translated in over 27 languages, and the biggest best selling novel in Spanish history since Don Quixote, I am not the only one to find the book truly amazing.
A very very brief synopsis
As the novel is much better read and I believe about 500 pages long, I think a short summary will do. Marquez, originally from Columbia, sought to portray the circular nature of history through his book. He attempted to portray time’s overlapping and circular pattern by creating the book in this way as well. The characters in his book all hold relatively the same name or variation thereof which at times can make the book both confusing and compelling.
The first of the family history starts with Jose Arcadio Bueno who is an eternal explorer and inventor at heart. Set in the small town of Macondo, we also see the story of the town unfold from rather untouched by the outside world to facing heavy afflictions and massacres. By the end of the book, after we have followed the tales of the children and their exploits, Jose (the very first of the lineage) loses his senses and is left tied to a tree. There his wife Ursula visits him until her death. We meet other remarkable characters as well such as Remedios, the hauntingly beautiful daughter who’s looks entrance men. So beautiful, in fact, that eventually she floats up into the sky never to be seen again. There is also Jose Aureliano, who becomes one of the most well-known rebels during the civil war.
Marquez paints each characters’ tale from beginning to end until the complete family lineage of the Buendia’s is complete.
The novel ends with the lines stating that the family lineage will never be again:
“He [Aureliano II ] had already understood that he would never leave that room, for it was foreseen that the city of mirrors (or mirages) would be wiped out by the wind and exiled from the memory of men at the precise moment when Aureliano Babilonia would finish deciphering the parchments, and that everything written on them was unrepeatable since time immemorial and forever more, because races condemned to one hundred years of solitude did not have a second opportunity on earth.” ~Last lines of 100 Years of Solitude
Marquez’s novel is in the form of magical realism and so reading it can be an imaginative experience. Throughout the novel he shows the struggle between the old traditions and the new ways through both his characters and the town of Macondo. His novel is able to paint a world with multiple view points and is rich in symbolism.
For those looking to get lost in their reading, 100 Years of Solitude will not disappoint.