Monday, April 16, 2007
returning to an old friend
Some books form a personal connection with me. One of these is Gabriel Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude. I picked up my copy after several years and remembered my dear friend Maria from Spain, who had sung praises of this bible for Spanish readers. The dog-eared bookmark with Maria's fading handwriting, exchanging personal impressions as we discussed my progress through the book, the soft focus sepia tinted memories returned.
"Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice." Thus begins One Hundred Years of Solitude, from a terrifying point in the distant future, where the firing squad is preparing to shoot to kill. Dream and memory whirl into a heady mix to draw the reader into a narrative where time moves in many directions at once. This matter of fact yet incredibly farfetched note typifies the essence of Magic Realism.
I entered Macondo again. Staying awake till the early hours, I joined the villagers of Macondo as an insomnia epidemic threatened to erase all layers of culture and identity. I witnessed "the precise moment when Aureliano Babilonia would finish deciphering the parchments, and that everything written on them was unrepeatable since time immemorial and forevermore, because races condemned to one hundred years of solitude did not have a second opportunity on earth."
One of the world’s most famous modern-day classics, One Hundred Years of Solitude encompasses in its epic sweep the history of the Buendia family. A mix of the political, emotional and magical, this novel is among the best known and most popular novels in the tradition of Magic Realism. This novel has been translated into many languages including English, and has sold over 30 million copies worldwide. It portrays the history of Macondo on a larger-than-life level, tracing events from its mythic foundation to its final disappearance. A middle-class family chronicle set against the backdrop of Latin American history, this novel tests the boundaries of narrative fiction. Garcia Marquez once said that he seeks to bring out “the magic in commonplace events.” The events in the novel may seem fantastic, but much of it has a solid grounding in reality. The massacre of hundreds of banana plantation workers in the novel is based upon an actual strike by workers against the United Fruit Company in 1928.