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About this book

Gabriel García Márquez is considered one of the most significant authors in the Spanish language. Rising to prominence with One Hundred Years of Solitude, his fiction is widely read and studied throughout the world.

This invaluable Guide gives a wide-ranging but in-depth survey of the global debate over García Márquez's fiction. It explores the major critical responses to his key works, devoting two whole chapters to One Hundred Years of Solitude. It also examines García Márquez's lesser-known short fiction, his place in the Boom, magical realism and his influence on other writers. Jay Corwin discusses both European and US-centric interpretations, balancing these with indigenous and Hispanic contexts to give the reader an overarching understanding of the global reception of García Márquez's work.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

Abstract
Gabriel García Márquez (1927–2014) was arguably the world’s most celebrated novelist, from the publication and rampant success of One Hundred Years of Solitude (Cien años de soledad, 1967) until his death 47 years later. He was born in Aracataca, a small town on the Caribbean coast of Colombia in South America. In 1947 he was awarded a scholarship to complete his high school education at a boarding school in Zipaquirá, a very old pre-Columbian town in the country’s highlands in the metropolitan area of Bogotá. He later started to study law but eventually dropped out and began to work as a journalist, spending time in Cartagena and Barranquilla, some starving years in Paris, a year in New York and a few years in Barcelona, before settling finally in Mexico City, where he spent the second half of his life. After several of his short stories had appeared in different Colombian newspapers, García Márquez’s first novel, Leaf Storm (La horajasca), came out in 1955, followed by No One Writes to the Colonel (El coronel no tiene quien le escribe, 1961), In Evil Hour (La mala hora, 1962) and a collection of stories, Big Mama’s Funeral (Los funerales de la Mamá Grande, 1962). None of these, however, received much attention outside of his native Colombia until the publication of One Hundred Years of Solitude.
Jay Corwin

2. Early Fiction and Short Fiction

Abstract
Gabriel García Márquez’s fiction began appearing in the late 1940s in Colombian newspapers, and his first dozen stories were published between 1947 and 1953. His first short story, ‘The Third Resignation’ (‘La tercera resignación’), was printed in 1947 in El Espectador. Several weeks later his second story, ‘Eva Is Inside Her Cat’ (‘Eva está dentro de su gato’), featured in the same newspaper.1 To be certain, a story printed in a Colombian newspaper at the time was very unlikely to receive much attention. The author’s earliest stories did not come out as a collection until much later, after the success of One Hundred Years of Solitude (Cien años de soledad, 1967). According to Gerald Martin, two days after the publication of ‘Eva Is Inside Her Cat’, an influential journalist, Eduardo Zalamea Borda, recognized García Márquez’s talent: ‘In Gabriel García Márquez we are witnessing the birth of a remarkable writer.’2 There was certainly not as yet a definitive place in Latin American literature for the novice writer.
Jay Corwin

3. One Hundred Years of Solitude I

Abstract
First published in Spanish as Cien años de soledad in 1967 and better known in English as One Hundred Years of Solitude, García Márquez’s first major novel made a greater impact on the literary world than any previous Latin American novel had done. So unusual is it in form and content that One Hundred Years of Solitude attracted a term to describe elements of its style, the much debated but still used magical realism. Few novelists have had their writing as thoroughly examined and analysed or sparked as much stylistic imitation in the realm of popular fiction. Previously, García Márquez had enjoyed a minor but good reputation in Latin America as an interesting writer of short stories and novellas, but nothing to the extent that the novel in question would secure for him on the international stage.
Jay Corwin

4. One Hundred Year s of Solitude II

Abstract
Comparative strategies of analysis have, as we observed earlier, led to some differences between English and Anglo-American critics on the one hand, and Latin American critics on the other, dividing critics who perceive literary heredity from an Anglo-American tradition from those who focus mainly on Latin American literary ascendancy (although the divide is sometimes more individual than geographic). Nearly all critics converge on the most evident points of literary influence in One Hundred Years of Solitude, beginning with the Old and New Testaments. The novel alludes to Genesis, Exodus and the Apocalypse of St John the Divine. García Márquez was quoted often about different writers whose works were meaningful to him, and he cited Sophocles, Faulkner, Borges, Virginia Woolf and Tolstoy.1 One Hundred Years of Solitude has been called ‘the Great American novel’2 and compared to Don Quixote. The tendency to compare in literary criticism is inevitable. In terms of García Márquez’s magnum opus, there are no particular disputes, but whereas British and Anglo-American critics tend at times to view the novel independently of its cultural origins and focus on broader interpretations of literary ascendancy, Latin American critics have not usually objected directly, but rather have examined the novel more within its cultural environs.
Jay Corwin

5. The Autumn of the Patriarch and The General in His Labyrinth

Abstract
Without question, The Autumn of the Patriarch (El otoño del patriarca, 1975) is García Márquez’s most challenging work. It is classified as a novel, but that may have more to do with its length than with its form and content. It is divided into six sections and recounts various details in the life of the dictator of a fictitious Latin American country. Raymond L. Williams, one of the clearest of critics, divides the themes of the novel by chapter as follows: (i) the death of the dictator’s double; (ii) Manuela Sánchez, the dictator’s mistress, and her ultimate disappearance; (iii) the politics of power, including the arrival of a special dinner guest as discussed below; (iv) the waning power of the dictator, the death and canonization of his mother and the introduction of his soon-to-be wife; (v) and (vi) the dictator’s final demise.1
Jay Corwin

6. Chronicle of a Death Foretold

Abstract
Chronicle of a Death Foretold (Crónica de una muerte anunciada, 1981) is, among other things, a recounting of the events that surround an honour killing in a small coastal Colombian town. From the first sentence, the reader knows that Santiago Nasar will die, and quickly discovers that the account is being reported 27 years after the fact, which occurs the day after a wedding and coincides with the arrival of the bishop in the unnamed town. In the first chapter of the novel, it is clarified that everyone in the town knew of the plot to kill Santiago Nasar and that the plot was hatched by Pedro and Pablo Vicario, whose sister Angela had been returned after her wedding night by her husband, Bayardo San Román, because he had discovered that she was not a virgin. The narrator’s mother, Luisa Santiaga, prepares to inform Santiago’s mother, Plácida Linares, but as she waits for her husband to dress, a distant noise comes from the plaza, and someone runs to tell her that it is too late, that Santiago has been murdered. The second chapter details the arrival of Bayardo San Román, told initially to the narrator by his mother in letters.
Jay Corwin

7. Love in the Time of Cholera and Of Love and Other Demons

Abstract
Love in the Time of Cholera (El amor en los tiempos del cólera, 1985) is Gabriel García Márquez’s fourth major novel, the first one penned after he was awarded the 1982 Nobel Prize for Literature. If Chronicle of a Death Foretold was the author’s return to the era of such works as Leaf Storm and In Evil Hour as forms of repentance for a guilt-laden past, in Love in the Time of Cholera García Márquez engages the past with a ripened loveliness, forgiving of the folly of youth, offering his characters late in life the opportunity he denied them in One Hundred Years of Solitude. The three main characters are Fermina Daza, Florentino Ariza and Juvenal Urbino, the suitor who marries Fermina Daza and remains married to her for 50 years until his accidental death, which is illustrated in the first chapter. The novel is divided into six chapters: the first and last are set in the twentieth century and detail the widowhood of Fermina Daza and the return of her first suitor, Florentino Ariza, who has loved her for 50 years.
Jay Corwin

Conclusion

Abstract
Gabriel García Márquez’s initial fame, if history tells it properly, may have had as much to do with clever marketing as it did with talent, as he was unexpectedly listed as a writer of the Boom, interviewed and found a major publisher of Boom novels willing to bring out One Hundred Years of Solitude. Ángel Rama describes the Boom more in terms of clever marketing of novels for an ever-expanding literary culture in Latin America. Those issues notwithstanding, the marketers of the Boom could not have expected the monumental popularity of that novel, written by a relatively unknown Colombian novelist, Gabriel García Márquez, whose earlier works had taken years to sell a thousand copies. Regardless of the history, the novel turned the novelist into an instant celebrity. No amount of marketing can sustain very high volumes of sales of a novel for 50 years if it is simply a bad novel, although nearly everyone has a personal list of contenders for the world’s dullest classics. García Márquez followed that publication with short fiction that was just as imaginative, well written and technically interesting in ‘Innocent Erendira’, which was later filmed by Brazilian director Ruy Guerra (Erendira, 1983) with a film script penned by García Márquez himself. If The Autumn of the Patriarch demonstrated to critics that García Márquez was exceptionally talented, Chronicle of a Death Foretold provided readers and critics with an unusual form of journalistic detective fiction with no readily available culprit at the end.
Jay Corwin
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