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

Thursday, January 13, 2011

"A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings: A Tale for Children" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

"A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings:    A Tale For Children" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (1968, 7 pages)

A few years ago I read most of the translated novels of the Gabriel Garcia Marquez (1927, Columbia).   I was just about ready to read his most famous work, One Hundred Years of Solitude and some how I got side tracked and never got around to reading it.        ( In my post on his great short story "Eva is Inside Her Cat" I posted a bit about the immense important and influence of Marquez.)    It was translated by Gregory Rabassa.

I am planning to read and post on four of Marquez's short story as a kind of getting ready for One Hundred Years of Solitude exercise.    Recently on one of  the blogs I follow Your Move Dickens by Darlyn I read a very interesting post on a short story by Marquez, "A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings: A Tale for Children".     Darlyn said the story was a great introduction to Marquez's use of "magic realism" so I decided to read it.  (There is no translation credit given)

The story is set among simple people on a seacoast some where in Latin America.   The opening paragraph does a very good job of getting me interested in the story and also shows us how Marquez makes use of magic realism:

 The light was so weak at noon that when Pelayo was coming back to the house after throwing away the crabs, it was hard for him to see what it was that was moving and groaning in the rear of the courtyard. He had to go very close to see that it was an old man, a very old man, lying face down in the mud, who, in spite of his tremendous efforts, couldn't get up, impeded by his enormous wings.

The villagers put the man, who they think must be a very old angel, in a cage made of chicken wire.    They are at first nervous around him and even a bit afraid of him.     Soon the couple who found and imprisoned him begin to notice lots of people were coming by to see their captive.   They began to charge people to see him and made enough to build a two story house.   The local priest comes stops in to inspect the possible angel and ends up sending a letter to advise Rome of his findings and to ask for counsel in understanding what the being in fact was.    All of this is relayed in a completely straightforward way.    I was very much reminded of the great influence of  "The Metamorphosis" by Franz Kafka over post colonial South American literature  as I read this story.    As I was reading Marquez's story I was also reminded of "Prize Stock"  by Kenzaburo Oe, another story about a mysterious man who fell from the sky.     

I do not wish to tell anymore of the plot of this story as it is really well done and a lot of fun to discover on your own.    

"A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings:  A Tale for Children" can be read online .   I did not personally post this story online.     I plan to post on two more stories by Gabriel Garcia Marquez soon and then I will begin One Hundred Years of Solitude.     

Mel u


Laurie said...

I too admire this story. "The Handsomest Drowned Man In The World" is another fable-like work of Garcia Marquez with a similar tone and allied theme. "...Innocent Erendira" is a worthy somewhat-short fiction with a much more adult vibe...
How lovely to have found you via 'Your move, Dickens'. What a fine blog you have going here.
I'm a relative newbie, and happy to have you aboard for the journey!

Shannon said...

Ooh, I just recently finished One Hundred Years of Solitude, and I absolutely loved it! I'm usually not a big fan of magical realism, but for some reason it didn't irritate me this time. And now you've inspired me to read some of his short stories as well - I've only read one, "The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World."

Mel u said...

Laurie-yes it is interesting how connections develop in the book blogging world-thanks for your comments

Shannon-I am excited to start One Hundred-maybe today

Mel u said...

Laurie-yes it is interesting how connections develop in the book blogging world-thanks for your comments

Shannon-I am excited to start One Hundred-maybe today

Darlyn (Your Move, Dickens) said...

Thanks for linking back to my post! I recently finished reading The Metamorphosis, and I had no idea Kafka was one of the first proponents of magic realism. When I hear the term "magic realism", I think of Latin American writers. :)

Mel u said...

Darlyn-yes Kafka super influential indirectly over Latin American and Filipino literature-you might read Gogol's The Overcoat and The Nose also