Cosmopolitanism in Gabriel García Marquez's Works (I)
In the first quarter of 2014, I attended a conference at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York in Spanish presented by encyclopedist Prof. César Domínguez (Universidade de Santiago de Compostela). During the conference, I discussed with the speaker, my concern that cosmopolitanism is driven in great part by the scatology of the topics and scenarios, in the relation of that word to biblical themes. The speaker bluntly disagreed with that opinion, and emphasized his point of view that cosmopolitanism was against anything that could be considered Irishism or alike, and he had to use the word in English, as there is no formal equivalent in Spanish. He also lamented that Spain had not been able to produce other great universal masterpieces since Cervantes's Don Quixote.
Then it came to my mind that characters and scenarios depicted in García Márquez's works have a strong regional context and idiosyncrasy. Then I wonder how is it possible that Colonel Aureliano Buendía and José Arcadio Buendía could have attained a cosmopolitan dimension and universal acceptance through One Hundred Years of Solitude. Then I clearly encountered my scatological matches: incest actors, genealogy confusion, insomnia, forgetfulness and confusion, strange diseases, the crossing of the sierra as a travel comparable to the biblical journeys. Then I visited the amoral abuse of power presented in The Autumn of the Patriarch and likewise encountered how many historic characters biblical kings, and not just King Herodes. I went further in examining Chronicle of a Death Fortold, and similarly I encountered violence as described through various generations in biblical topics. However, in Cervantes's Quixote the universality of the novel can be observed in the purity of its characters and the language; this is equivalent to the universality of the regional characters of García Marquez's works. But unlike the contents of the Quixote, the regional characters of Macondo are indeed both micro-cosmopolitan in the psychological perspective of her actors' (regional) personalities and macro-cosmopolitan in the occurrence of events demonstrated by the creativity of his magic realism.
But Prof. Domínguez, boldly disagreed with my opinion that any sense of universality or cosmopolitanism has necessarily anything to do with the Bible. My unusual question came over a presentation that was based on a Eurocentric perspective of the world (from the political point of view), which has little to do with Macondo's recent world, or their gypsies and regional characters raised to a universal greatness. But for those who have read most of his works, García Márquez had no intention to present Macondo's world in any fashion other than subject to the aggressive trends and will to power of regional characters, the main source of political domain.
Likewise, the description of landscape, places, and space is general highlights an important feature in García Marquez's work. In that dimension, he was many times criticized and compared, for better or worst, to Balzac's works. Besides, events like the famine of certain characters and the anorexia or others are not like the Ireland potato famine caused by the British in the middle of the 19th Century. Nor are these events historically comparable to lack in the Bible or the miraculous event as the fall of manna from the sky But with Love in Time of Cholera, García Marquez attains a new dimension beyond the beauty of his poetic narrative and creativity: Love becomes the leit motif of his novel; love over disease and death; love over fate; in essence, eternal love. In this sense, his philosophic view -implicitly displayed in this novel- is in great contrast with that of the human fatal destiny presented by French poet Charles Baudelaire works, which often made him collide with his social entourage; the same contrast is also visible in Tolstoi's Ana Karenina, between characters who suffer to enjoy passion, and characters who wait for and enjoy true love, eternal love; which is also somewhat depicted in Flaubert's Madame Bovary.
In this first part of my article, I want to emphasize and conclude that it is indeed the strength and power of the magic realism narrative, which drives a sense of universality, and a cosmopolitan place at the eyes of the reader anywhere in the world when reading García Marquez's masterpieces, in form and content structure, in morphology and syntax, in semantics and rhetoric, in time and space.