Lauded as the ultimate achievement of this Nobel Prize winning author, One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez is a beloved and acclaimed novel renowned globally.Considered one of the most significant authors of the 20th century and one of the best in the Spanish Language, and a recipient of varied awards for his widely published work Gabriel García, is known extensively for popularizing a literary style labeled as magic realism, which uses magical elements and events in otherwise ordinary and realistic situations.
First published in 1967, the book has been published with various covers since then. The one I happened to read had a slightly teal color tone with a chair and a broomstick on the cover page. Soothing and pleasant to the eye, it certainly catches your attention and makes you want to read it. For me, the articles on the cover represent Úrsula Iguarán and her role as a house holding matriarch.
The story revolves around seven generations of the Buendia family with the subsequent generations all being named after the previous ones, the only first names being José Arcadio, Aureliano, Amaranta and Remedios. You’ll encounter more characters than you can count along the way, and although they all share their first names, you’ll never find yourself mistaking one for the other. Despite the number of characters, García Márquez miraculously manages to give you an insight into each one’s nature, behavior and mannerisms. Although all the characters have been portrayed beautifully, none of them less intriguing than the other, the ones that managed to stand out to me were Úrsula Iguarán, Colonel Aureliano Buendía, José Arcadio Segundo and Melquíades.
Chronicling the inception and demise of a family spanning seven generations and the birth and death of a town discovered by the first of the family, One Hundred Years of Solitude takes García Márquez’s flair for magical realism a notch higher and manages to make the most absurd of things seem possible. The story covers in detail the happenings in the town of Macondo, less than ten years old at the beginning and above a hundred as the story ends. It talks of the struggles of a new town, and the struggles of its inhabitants to develop it and open it up to the world. Through incest, death, war, infiltration by industrialists, and even epidemics, the story describes so many events in such intrinsic detail that it would be quite a task to even remember them all.
Despite being set in seemingly olden times, it does not treat sex like the taboo it was considered to be and deals with it with a sense of liberty. Mentioning any of the events here would not only be confusing, it will also be a major spoiler and that’s not something I’d want to do.
It might feel like reading a journal on and on without an end to it, but each one of these events conspire to come together in the end and reveal the purpose behind the chronicle. Like in most books, the end makes it all worth it.
Despite having been translated from Spanish, the language doesn’t seem to be at odds with the story even once and lends a flow to the narrative that smoothens out even more in the latter half than in the former one. The selection of words compliments the story perfectly and adds to the delight of reading it.
The story, as you read it, is possibly being read out to you from pages it’s already been put down on, or it could be happening in real time, the possibility of both of which you discover only at the end, lending a mysterious vibe to it. The use of language enhances the story, making it a delight to read. The pace picks up considerably as the story progresses, making it hard to put down. My favorite bit, however, is the portrayal of the numerous female characters in the story, each an entity of her own, with substance and qualities that sets her apart from the other women in the story.
It might seem in the beginning like too many things are happening all at once, but this same feature gets you hooked on by the end. It starts with feeling like a drill and if nothing else, you might want to read it only because you’ve heard such great reviews (that’s what I did) but the pace quickens along the way, making it difficult to put down and even if you end up taking breaks, the story beckons to you, making it unable to stay away for long. For several reasons, you’d want to take your time with this book, reading it slowly and savoring every bit, every tiny detail, and every seemingly innocuous event for it will all come back to you in the end. It can undoubtedly be considered among the finest specimens of literature and I’ll recommend reading it accompanied by several glasses of wine, just to add to the experience.
“And that wherever they might be they always remember that the past was a lie, that memory has no return, that every spring gone by could never be recovered, and that the wildest and most tenacious love was an ephemeral truth in the end.”
“There is always something left to love.”
“The secret of a good old age is simply an honorable pact with solitude.”
“The only candle that will make him come is always lighted.”
“Intrigued by that enigma, he dug so deeply into her sentiments so that in search of interest he found love, because by trying to make her love him he ended up falling in love with her.”
“Once more in death they had become as identical as they had been until adolescence.”
“‘What did you expect?’ he murmured. ‘Time passes.’
‘That’s how it goes,’ Úrsula said, ‘but not so much.’”
“Always remember that they were more than three thousand and that they were thrown into the sea.”
Sharing the love for books with innumerable bibliophiles from around the world, we are now glad to present to you a review by a Guest Blogger/ Bibliophile every month!
This month we have Snigdha Bansal, a lover of words who is more than delighted to be lost in a pile of books, and is the mother of very realatable musings, click here to get a peak into Snigdha’s world.