One Hundred Years of Solitude...,
Thirty Years of Happiness
Thirty Years of Happiness
In a small high-school, my classmates Aníbal, Elvis, Víctor, and I frequently analyzed novels and short stories, as part of the literary curriculum lead by Professor Ruby Díaz. I believe, if I recall correctly, that we analyzed several novels by 1982 Nobel Prize winner, Gabriel García Márquez. Among the novels that I ever read with vibrant passion in Spanish beyond this masterpiece, are The Autumn of the Patriarch (El Otoño del Patriarca) also by García Márquez, Dostoievski’s Crime and Punishment, Frederick Forsythe’s The Day of the Jackal, and several of Balzac’s novels, which I later read in French, as well. In all of them, there is some sort of hidden romanticism; and therefore, I must be romantic.
From García Márquez’s works, I believe that my favorite one is in fact The Autumn of the Patriarch, which beyond being a novel is also the longest poem written in Latin American literature.
On October 23, 1982, I purchased GGM’s masterpiece at a local bookstore and gave it to my mother as a souvenir gift, with a dedication that said “To my mother as a souvenir of the day when García Márquez received the Nobel Prize in Literature.” She was happy about it. It is my undestanding, from an article, that the prize had been awarded earlier in late July.
On the award date, García Márquez was contacted by friends to let him know he had won the novel prize, and he thought at that moment that they were teasing him. However, the fact that other Latin American boom writers, like Mario Vargas Llosa and Carlos Fuentes had written books and articles on the Nobel Prize winner suggests that he had already earned a place among the contemporary creators.
During my college years, I had fun performing a new literary analysis of One Hundred Years of Solitude as part of my Latin American Literature class with Prof. Campo Elías Romero Fuenmayor, at Universidad del Norte, who was frequently emotional about passages in the book, and who probably understand the story as no one else I know, as of today. While I wrote the script for a video on Simón Bolívar’s life at my designated university library cubicle, we actually talked about literary topics, and frequently shared these conversations with my concurrent modern history professor, a Romanian woman who enjoyed Latin American literature and loved historic places near the school, like the Salgar Castle.
I recall that some of my friends, and classmates, like Eduardo Parra, Yolanda Robledo, and Beatriz Zurbarán, and other engineering students whose names I probably cannot recall, had also a passionate perspective of that class, and the pleasure of reading García Márquez’s novels.
On the year when Chronicle was released, there was an incident in my law school class. My then general criminal law professor, Mario Alcalá, had brought about an anecdote of his own the the criminal concourse (el concurso de delito: “el que con varias acciones u omisiones infrinja una o varias disposiciones penales o varias veces una misma disposición pena incurrirá en la pena para la violación mayor aumentada hasta en otro tanto”), i.e. concurrent crime events, so I tried to make an analogy with one of GGM’s books, and Prof. Alcalá slammed his right hand on this desk like a hammer shouting “Don’t talk to me about García Márquez”, followed by a gesture of visible anger. I could never forget about that event, simply because in the law school, teachers were either seating or standing on a pedestal, about two feed higher than the students, so the impact was double. Chronicle of a Death Foretold is a novel that has a value much greater than I thought when I first read it. It has the melodious rhythm of many of García Marquez’s novels, but also the intensity of a true chronicle, written by a journalist.
During my years of student at the Alliance Française de Barranquilla, I had learned from Prof. and AF Director Claude Merny, first, and later from Prof. and Director Eric Séébold, the different perspectives that European critics, and other literary analysts. Most of them, including GGM’s biographer Jacques Gillard, whom I once met at the AF building in Barranquilla, suggested that García Márquez had won his novel prize as a result of having written a unique masterpiece (One Hundred Years of Solitude), and that all other novels were an extension to that masterpiece. That was a valid theory on his creative work. However, other experts like Professor Romero Fuenmayor suggested that García Márquez is "the author of a comprehensive literary work", which today seems to me a more accurate perspective, as the Nobel Prize winner continues to create and wrote several other great novels, where his style remains alive.
During these young years, García Márquez masterpiece was related to Balzac’s La Recherche de l’Absolu. But later on, many critics French President François Mittérrand honored him with the Grand Croix de la Légion d'Honneur Commandeur, which opened the awareness among European critics, including the Sweden Academy, which rewarded his creativity by awarding him the Nobel Prize for literature, the greatest honor for letters.
In a few words
A few words on some my five favorite works by García Márquez:
One hundred years of solitude, is the story of the Latin American nation whose inheritance has no second chance on the face of the earth. A scatological story without any assumed or presumed traces of Balzacian plagiarism: The realm of magic realism.
The Autumn of The Patriarch, the great drama of a fallen dictatorship presented in a poetic and rhythmic style, like a long chant of greatness, despair, and jubilee.
Chronicle of a Death Foretold is a tragic story breaking any literary time dimensions with a classic journalistic style.
No one writes to the Colonel, a story of despair, a true existentialist drama, where reality and anxiety mix in the hope that a pension pay would someday arrive.
Love in Time of Cholera, a story of true love that breaks the barrier of time and the natural human trend to forget those deeply loved ones, after a few years. The novel leit motif is true love that lasts forever.
Besides, The General in his Labyrinth is the story of the inner Simón Bolívar, the hero inside the man, the Liberator by heart, the fearless esoteric man.
As a journalist, writer, film script writer, man of the Latin American boom, critic of many dimensions, and man of unclear political ideas, García Márquez has been successful in each one of those categories, including the latter as he presents the human Simón Bolívar as a state leader supporting the idea of maximum of social security in the best government, and chants a narration on the cows at the presidential palace of the fallen dictator.
While García Márquez called American William Faulkner his master, followed by James Joyce and John Dos Passo, the 2012 Nobel Prize winner, Chinese writer Mo Yan has suggested that he was inspired by GGM's One Hundred Years of Solitude. In particular, he was motivated to read the book after reading he first sentence of the book: "Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that remote afternoon when his father took him to discover ice."
Recently, people learned about his private life when his brother suggested publicly that he is suffering from dementia, as “he forgets basic events” in his daily life. At age 85, this is quite normal. If he was half his age, then I would be concerned. I say this such that relatives and those around the Nobel prize winner allow him to continue to write. He can still write smoothly and without stress. According to J. Broom in The Writer and the Psychoanalysis, writing is the way to get writer's memories and reality back into the conscious world, so subliminal memories will come back to life. Indeed, I hope that García Márquez gets the chance to visit the USA once more and gets the chance to recall and write about his forgotten happy women, as well.