Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Sunday, January 23, 2011

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Marquez (1970-in translation by Gregory Rabassa, 458 pages)

A few years ago I read most of the translated novels of Gabriel Marquez, stopping before I read his most famous work, One Hundred Years of Solitude.  I recently read and posted on three of his short stories, all of which I really liked.  

  Gabriel Garcia Marquez (1928, Columbia) is a very important 20th century author.    He won the Nobel Prize in 1982.     Nearly all of Latin American literature stands in his shadow, including Roberto Bolano.   Much of the literature of what some call "The Third World" is very derivative  from the work of Marquez.    For sure this is true of the writers of the Philippines.     He  brought into currency "Magical Realism" as a literary category.   Some see "Magical Realism" as also an anti-colonial literary device and I kind of see this also.      Here is how Wikipedia defines "Magic Realism":

 magical realism is an aesthetic style or genre of fiction  in which magical elements are blended into a realistic atmosphere in order to access a deeper understanding of reality. These magical elements are explained like normal occurrences that are presented in a straightforward manner which allows the "real" and the "fantastic" to be accepted in the same stream of thought.
Have you ever hesitated or just not read a book that logically you should based on your reading history and interests just because you were somehow put off by the tremendous hype on the book?      I think that is the reason I did not years ago read One Hundred Years of Solitude.    On the back cover of the edition I have there is a quote from William Kennedy's New York Times Book Review article in which he says that One Hundred Years of Solitude is "the first piece of literature since the book of Genesis that should be required reading for the entire human race".     

I really do not feel a need to say a lot about this book as all sorts of posts can be found on it.  My entry will be just a short reading note.   I think this book should be read because of  its huge influence.   It also sort of gives us a feel for the crazy history of Latin America (or really any country run by capricious leaders) and Columbia in particular.   There are lots of very imaginative characters and events in the book.    I would say the book is fun as long as one is OK with Magic Realism which I am.    Once you catch on that Marquez  is kind of recreating the history of the human race it is fun to see the work develop.    Marquez is a  very good writer.   Some of the stories and set pieces in One Hundred Years of Solitude are brilliant.     There is real wisdom in this book.     Should it be required reading for the whole human race?    No, I am sorry I do not see this in the book.

Harold Bloom has it on his list of canon  status works.     I am glad I have now read this book, partially so I can see what the hype was all about and partially for its huge cultural influence.  I can for sure see a major influence on Roberto Bolano.    It is included in the 1997 edition of Clifton Fadiman's Life Time Reading Plan and was not even yet published when the first edition came out in 1960.     

Mel u


Rebecca Chapman said...

Great book isn't it. I love GGM. I agree that the best thing about this book is the look into the Latin America lifestyle. ALthough it is historical I have a bit of insight into Latin Americans (my family in law are from SOuth America) and it is ever bit as dramatic as the book depicts

Darlyn (Your Move, Dickens) said...

I'm so glad you like it. I think GGM was a genius for being able to weave all those stories and characters together. This was the first book that exposed me to "modern" literature, and it'll always have a special place in my heart.

Booksnyc said...

I really need to read this book. It has been on my shelf for years and I don't think I have ever anything but good impressions of the book. I understand your thoughts in hype, though, that also affects me too - I fear it will never live up. I just wrote about that with respect to Franzen in my review of Corrections.

Anonymous said...

A lot of ppl think GGM's novels are hard work. I have yet to try any, I will soon get going with Love in the Time of Cholera and then read this one next.

Great review Mel and thanks for telling me that a lot of Spanish influence writers' work are derivative of GGM's.

Sam (Tiny Library) said...

I haven't read any of his books, but think I will start with 'Love in the Time of Cholera'.

I'm a bit sceptical of magical realism, but will reserve judgement until I give it a go for myself.

JoAnn said...

I have a hard time with magical realism and have tried to read this book twice over the years... will give it one more shot before giving up totally.

ds said...

I love this book!! So glad you enjoyed it, too! New arrangement of authors in your header looks good, too :)

Anonymous said...

I love GGM, and yet I haven't read One Hundred Years. I too, have trouble reading a book with enormous hype. Are you planning on reading any other of his works?

Love in Time of Cholera is amazing. Loved it.

Mel u said...

Jenny O-I have read nearly all of his novels now-If I can find more of his short stories on line I will read them

ds-thanks very much

Joann-I hope you will like it on the 3rd try-

Sam-Love in the Time of Cholera is also a book I like a lot-I even like the movie

Bibilojunkie-Yes GMM is very influential here in the Philippines also

Jay said...

I read 100 Years of Solitude as part of our required reading materials in English II in UP. I was so impressed with its form and content and that made me read his other works like Love in the Time of Cholera, A Chronicle of a Death Foretold, etc.

I think part of the success of 100 Years of Solitude is the brilliant translation of Gregory Rabassa.

stenote said...

I like Magical Realism in One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez , ” it seems that the loss of memory plague had attacked back a few generations later. This time, the people in Macondo lost memory of a horrible thing that happened in the past. ”
I tried to write a blog about Gabriel , hope you like it too: