García Márquez’s Is Published Summary

  • Last updated on November 10, 2022

Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude brought Magical Realism and the “Boom” period of Latin American literature to the attention of an international audience. The novel is often considered the most significant of its generation.

Summary of Event

After years of writing fiction without attaining significant notice, Colombian novelist and journalist Gabriel García Márquez achieved enormous popular and critical acclaim with the publication of Cien años de soledad (1967; One Hundred Years of Solitude, 1970). The novel traces the rise and fall of the Buendía family from its harmonious beginnings (under founder José Arcadio Buendía) in a mythical Latin American town called Macondo Macondo to its increasingly chaotic decline through six generations of descendants. One Hundred Years of Solitude, however, is not merely the story of the Buendía family and the town of Macondo. Literary movements;"the Boom"[Boom] One Hundred Years of Solitude (García Márquez) Literary movements;Magical Realism Magical Realism "Boom, the"[Boom, the] [kw]García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude Is Published (May, 1967)[García Márquezs One Hundred Years of Solitude Is Published] [kw]One Hundred Years of Solitude Is Published, García Márquez’s (May, 1967) Literary movements;"the Boom"[Boom] One Hundred Years of Solitude (García Márquez) Literary movements;Magical Realism Magical Realism "Boom, the"[Boom, the] [g]Latin America;May, 1967: García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude Is Published[09250] [g]Argentina;May, 1967: García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude Is Published[09250] [c]Literature;May, 1967: García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude Is Published[09250] García Márquez, Gabriel Cortázar, Julio Fuentes, Carlos Carpentier, Alejo Vargas Llosa, Mario

The mixture of historical and fictitious elements that appear in One Hundred Years of Solitude places the novel within the Latin American tradition of Magical Realism. The birth of this style of writing is often attributed to the Cuban novelist and short-story writer Alejo Carpentier, who elaborated the critical concept of lo maravilloso americano, the marvelous American reality, arguing that, geographically, historically, and essentially, Latin America was a marvelous and fantastic place. To Carpentier, to render that place was to render marvels.

García Márquez has also maintained that the Latin American environment is marvelous, particularly the Caribbean. The coastal people were the descendants of pirates, smugglers, and black slaves; to grow up in such an environment, according to the novelist, is to have fantastic resources for poetry. In addition, García Márquez has argued, the mixture of many different cultures in the Caribbean has created an open-mindedness that looks beyond apparent reality.

Considered a masterpiece of contemporary Latin American literature and a seminal example of Magical Realism, One Hundred Years of Solitude presents fantastic incidents in an objective style in an effort to obscure distinctions between illusion and reality. At the heart of the novel is its magic, a magic that moves from the simply phenomenal—a levitating priest, a flock of yellow butterflies that flit ominously around a young seducer, plants that bleed when cut, ghosts that are accepted as part of the natural landscape—to the core of García Márquez’s world. In this world, beings shuffle back and forth in time, and the ordinary has been so clearly seen and followed to its conclusion that the world itself becomes more than natural; it becomes, instead, a wild conjuring of things that may seem to be anchored in reality but that slide imperceptibly into the fantastic.

Critics have pointed out that the book is also a microcosm of Latin America: local autonomy yielding to state authority; anticlericalism; party politics; the coming of the United Fruit Company; aborted revolutions; the rape of innocence by history. The Buendías (inventors, artisans, soldiers, lovers, mystics) seem doomed to a biological tragedy from solitude to poetry to science to politics to violence back to solitude.

García Márquez himself describes the work as an apotheosis of the theme of solitude. The story of Colonel Aureliano Buendía—the wars he fought and his progress to power—is, in effect, a progress toward solitude. Not only is every member of Buendía’s family solitary, but the entire town is also permeated by solitude (that is, antisolidarity); even people who sleep in the same bed are profoundly alone. This lack of solidarity, a consequence of individuals acting for themselves alone, precipitates the entire disaster of Macondo.

Gabriel Garcia Márquez.

(The Nobel Foundation)

In the novel, García Márquez gives solitude a uniquely political connotation. This connotation, to some critics, suggests a pessimism on the part of García Márquez concerning the fate of contemporary humankind. Humanity, it seems, has sealed its own destiny because of its consuming quest for power and material gain; the result is an incapacity to sustain a society based on love and solidarity with one’s fellow beings.

Placing One Hundred Years of Solitude within the context of García Márquez’s earlier work, it is apparent that almost all of García Márquez’s previously published works are populated by people either from the imaginary town of Macondo or who have some relation to it. La hojarasca Leaf Storm and Other Stories (García Márquez) (1955; Leaf Storm and Other Stories, 1972) shows the effects of the short-lived “banana boom” and the subsequent depression on that small rural community. This event resurfaces in the thirteenth and fourteenth chapters of One Hundred Years of Solitude. The lonely unrewarded hero of El coronel no tiene quien le escriba No One Writes to the Colonel and Other Stories (García Márquez) (1961; No One Writes to the Colonel and Other Stories, 1968) and La mala hora In Evil Hour (García Márquez) (1962; In Evil Hour, 1979) re-create the climate of political violence that prevailed in the Colombian countryside in the 1950’s, the former linking it to a long tradition of such violence and the latter depicting its corrosive effect on the community. Many of the characters of these early narratives are also forerunners of the Buendías of One Hundred Years of Solitude in that they are lonely, isolated individuals leading a solitary existence.

The short stories Los funerales de la Mamá Grande Big Mama’s Funeral (García Márquez)[Big Mamas Funeral] (1962; collected in part in Big Mama’s Funeral, 1968) are vignettes of life in the town of Macondo. They portray the traditional dominance of the land-owning oligarchy through the mythical story of a legendary matriarch who ruled over the region for generations. With regard to style, this work marks a major evolution. In all of his fiction, García Márquez attempts to achieve a poetic transformation of reality, but in most of his early work, he does so in a style that is essentially realistic. In these stories, however, the author was to discover the narrative manner best suited to giving literary expression to the world he knew as a child. The narrator presents himself as a kind of spokesman for the community. Its Magical Realism is counterbalanced by an ironic, irreverent tone that subverts the very legend it is propagating. In One Hundred Years of Solitude, García Márquez was to perfect that narrative manner and to create an all-embracing fictional world incorporating the principal places, themes, and characters treated separately in his earlier work.

The town of Macondo is named after a plantation near the small town (Aracataca) on Colombia’s Caribbean coast, where García Márquez grew up. Macondo has served as the location of his various narratives, and he has shaped and populated it from the stories told to him by his grandparents, in whose house he lived as a child. In the novel, Úrsula, the mother and grandmother of the entire Buendía family, is defined by her ability to recall and recount lives and situations otherwise threatened with oblivion or confusion.

In following the rise and fall of the Buendía family, García Márquez makes use of themes that have turned up often before in the literature of his continent. Futile revolution, imperialism, governmental lunacy, ludicrous machismo, doomed passion, and a voracious natural world are concepts of Latin American private and political history that the writer uses. Although a self-proclaimed leftist, García Márquez has refused to use his art as a platform for political propaganda.

Significance

Following its appearance in Latin America, One Hundred Years of Solitude received immediate acclaim and became the first Latin American novel to achieve international best-seller status. Although the novel provoked widespread debate among Latin American literary critics who disagreed on the issue of whether the work presented a stereotypical portrait of Latin America in the manner of Latin American social realist novels of the 1940’s and 1950’s, most agreed that the novel ranked as possibly the best Latin American novel of its era. While some initial English-speaking reviewers asserted that García Márquez treated Macondo and its history as a microcosm of Latin America, others felt that the book’s mythic and magical realist aspects combined to impart a more universal statement. Extensive critical commentary has since focused on many facts, particularly the novel’s references to other texts and numerous allusions to biblical and classical myth.

Some critics maintain that García Márquez’s particular gift for infusing the magical into the real is responsible for his international popularity. They assert that his utterly convincing tone has brought fantasy into the mainstream of world literature and has illustrated García Márquez’s belief that reality is not restricted to the mundane. García Márquez once stated that he always writes in a serious tone because he can get away with anything as long as he makes it believable. Along with the fantastic elements, however, appear the historical incidents and places that inspired them. An episode involving a massacre of striking banana workers is based on a historical incident. Although One Hundred Years of Solitude is first and foremost a story, the novel also has value as a social and historical document. A master of vision and language, García Márquez blends legend and history in ways that make the legends seem truer than truth. His scenes and characters are humorous, tragic, mysterious, and beset by ironies and fantasies. In his fictional world, anything is possible, and everything is believable.

Winner of the 1982 Nobel Prize in Literature Nobel Prize in Literature;Gabriel García Márquez[García Márquez] , García Márquez is one of a small number of contemporary writers from Latin America who have given to its literature a maturity and dignity it never had before. One Hundred Years of Solitude is perhaps García Márquez’s best-known contribution to the awakening of interest in Latin American literature, since the book’s appearance in Spanish in 1967 prompted unqualified approval from readers and critics. The 1960’s “Boom” in Latin American fiction reached its peak with the novel.

During the 1960’s in Latin America, there appeared in different countries, almost simultaneously, a number of acclaimed novels and collections of short stories that dazzled a large reading public that had hitherto been virtually ignored by the literary world. This sudden flowering of writers (the “Boom” period of Latin American literature) saw the emergence of such celebrated writers as Carlos Fuentes, Julio Cortázar, Mario Vargas Llosa, Jorge Luis Borges, and García Márquez. The works of these writers began, almost at once, to be translated into foreign languages and to put Latin America on the international literary map for the first time.

One Hundred Years of Solitude has been translated into more than thirty languages and has sold more than ten million copies. The popularity and acclaim won by the novel meant that Latin American literature would progress from capturing the exotic interest of a few to becoming essential reading. As a result, Latin American culture itself came to be viewed less as an alien subculture and more as a fruitful alternative way of life. So great was the novel’s initial popularity that the first Spanish printing of the book sold out within one week; for months afterward, Latin American readers would exhaust each successive printing. Translations of the novel elicited similarly enthusiastic responses from critics and readers around the world. Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, himself a Nobel laureate, has referred to the book as the greatest revelation in the Spanish language since Miguel de Cervantes’s Don Quixote de la Mancha (1605, 1615).

The novel owes its international success to several factors. Its plot is both fascinating and accessible to the average reader; its style is lucid, poetic, and rapidly paced; and in García Márquez’s depiction of the people of Macondo, all basic human emotions and experiences are dramatized with extraordinary vividness. The riveting history of Macondo can be read as a metaphor not merely for Latin American history but for all of Western civilization as well. Literary movements;"the Boom"[Boom] One Hundred Years of Solitude (García Márquez) Literary movements;Magical Realism Magical Realism "Boom, the"[Boom, the]

Further Reading
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Bell-Villada, Gene H. García Márquez: The Man and His Work. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1990. In this excellent study of García Márquez’s life and work, Bell-Villada asserts that the author stands in the tradition of nineteenth century novelists whose art combined the common touch with progressive and humane politics and who could inspire the affection of large audiences. Useful and lengthy bibliography.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">_______, ed. Gabriel García Márquez’s “One Hundred Years of Solitude”: A Casebook. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002. An anthology in the Casebooks in Criticism series that explore the novel from a variety of critical approaches and perspectives, including Magical Realism, humor, and the “liberal imagination.” Also includes an interview with García Márquez.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Bloom, Harold, ed. Gabriel García Márquez’s “One Hundred Years of Solitude”: Essays. Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 2003. Part of Bloom’s Modern Critical Analysis series, this collection examines García Márquez’s major work from a number of perspectives. Chapters include “Women and Society in ’One Hundred Years of Solitude’” and “Fables of the Plague Years: Postcolonialism, Postmodernism, and Magic Realism in ’Cien años de soledad.’” Bibliography, index.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Donoso, José. The Boom in Spanish American Literature. Translated by Gregory Kolovakos. New York: Columbia University Press, 1977. A uniquely personal history of the “Boom” generation written by a prominent Chilean novelist of the period. Rather than defining the term, Donoso discusses why the rather misleading label was invented. He focuses his discussion on the “Boom” novels and novelists that merited international attention.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">González Echevarría, Roberto. Myth and Archive: A Theory of Latin American Narrative. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990. This brief, scholarly work proposes a new theory about the origin and evolution of the Latin American narrative and about the emergence of the modern novel. Argues that by examining relationships the narrative establishes with nonliterary forms of discourse is more productive than examining relationships such literature has with its own traditions. Extensive bibliography.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Kristal, Efraín, ed. The Cambridge Companion to the Latin American Novel. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005. A reader’s companion that includes an essay on One Hundred Years of Solitude.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Martin, Gerald. Journeys Through the Labyrinth: Latin American Fiction in the Twentieth Century. New York: Verso, 1989. First-rate interpretive history of the Latin American novel in the twentieth century. Focuses primarily on the period from the 1920’s to the 1980’s. Combines a thematic with a historical approach and offers new readings of well-known writers and works. List of primary texts and critical bibliography.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Ortega, Julio, ed. Gabriel García Márquez and the Powers of Fiction. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1988. This collection of critical essays attempts to further the scholarship on García Márquez by offering new perspectives and fresh readings to provide a more complex and rewarding understanding of the texture and scope of his novels.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Pelayo, Rubén. Gabriel García Márquez: A Critical Companion. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2001. An account of García Márquez’s life and work, including his literary style, placing him within the Western literary canon.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Swanson, Philip, ed. Landmarks in Modern Latin American Fiction. New York: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1990. The aim of this series of insightful essays is to offer an overview of the evolution of modern fiction in Latin America via a study of key texts. Lengthy introduction and conclusion provide the background to the “Boom” period and chart developments after its decline. Bibliography.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Swanson, Roy Arthur. “Gabriel García Márquez.” In Notable Latino Writers, vol. 2. Pasadena, Calif.: Salem Press, 2006. A brief but informative eight-page biographical article on García Márquez’s life and work.

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