One Hundred Years Of Solitude Essay, Research Paper
After World War II, somewhere in the 1960s and certainly by the 1970s, writers began to produce novels that resembled former novels but that broke the historical comparison or the communal memory of the traditional novel.
Such novels contain plots and characters that are deeply infused with a particular national identity–national identity is their point, so to speak; yet such novels, rather than being limited to the national readership that shares this identity, are translated almost immediately into many languages and distributed globally.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez was born in 1928 in the small town of Aracataca, situated in a tropical region of northern Colombia, between the mountains and the Caribbean Sea. He grew up with his maternal grandparent – his grandfather was a pensioned colonel from the civil war at the beginning of the century. Garcia Marquez entered college to study law. ?Disliking law and encouraged by the writing of Franz Kafka (especially Metamorphosis), he took up writing. He then left school and began working for several newspapers, including El Espectador in Bogot? (Ciccarelli and Napierkowski 255).
Garcia Marquez won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982. ?His fiction presents a reality quite unlike the novels of the previous generation. Blending history, folktales, and imagination, Gracia Marquez creates an expanded vision of life. Literary critics have coined a term for this bold interweaving of imagination and reality: Magical Realism? (Magill 714).
A literary phenomenon created out of a need, which developed because of historical and cultural demands. Its origins stem from the fact that the New World that was discovered had fantastic elements that were considered real: the Fountain of Youth, streets made out of gold, mermaids swimming off of its coasts, and ancient civilizations with strange new animals never before seen, new fruits never before eaten, and new dangers never before encountered. With all these spectacular occurrences, the fantastic was never really fictionally based in Latin American literature.
Magical Realism did not happen in America because of its positivism, Protestantism and enlightening view of the world. Thomas Jefferson’s life exemplified this American credo of enlightenment. It was said that he had a Bible where he crossed out all references to miracles. He thought there was truth in the Bible but that certain parts were to be questioned; e.g., miracles were simply myths to please less enlightened minds. The magical possibilities are endless. In conclusion, for the rest of America, Latin America, a different way of viewing reality exists. Magical Realism merely reflects that vision.
The narrator’s voice is that of a very observant, apparently objective reporter, much as Garcia Marquez himself was for many years. Of course, the objectivity is more apparent than real: this narrator is clearly on the side of the workers against the banana company, and just as clearly for good wholesome sex and against sexual repression. But by maintaining the tone of objectivity, the reporter/narrator is able to describe the most bizarre events without comment, knowing only what he (or she) has seen and not claiming, at least until the very end, to know what it all means.
It seems clear to me that, in any conventional sense of the literary term, we are dealing here with an epic work: a long narrative fiction with a huge scope, which holds up for our inspection a particular cultural moment in the history of a people. The novel is the history of the founding, development, and death of a human settlement, Macondo, and of the most important family in that town, the Buendias.
In following the historical narrative of these two elements we are confronted, with a picture of how a moment in human civilization a particular group of people has organized its life.
?The author?s grandfather, who became the model for ?the Colonel? in the novel and the short stories, had participated in the civil war known as ?The War of a Thousand Days.? It was a traumatic event in Colombia?s historical consciousness. Following the signing of the peace treaty, a revolution suddenly erupted and the country lost its Panama territory, the Canal Zone?(Carey 5).
This novel has connections with a particular people’s historical reality the development of the Latin American country of Colombia since its independence from Spain in the early nineteenth century. The years 1900 to 1928 saw the take over of Colombia by the united Fruit Company of Boston. The ensuing labor trouble culminated on October 7, 1928, in a mass strike of 32,000 workers. The government later sent out the troops to fight the workers, and a massacre took place in Cienaga on December 5, 1928. In addition of course, and most importantly for an understanding of the novel, is the presence in it of the author’s family and of the author himself.
In the end, whatever sense the novel makes is up to the reader to figure out. Fortunately, we are provided with so many clues to the novel’s themes that we should have no trouble coming to our own conclusions. Thus, this pseudo-objective, reportorial narrative voice serves the author well: it enables him to present all the relevant information while inviting us to make the obvious, and the less obvious, connections.
We the readers then can have the extremely satisfying feeling we have “got” it. And if we read it a second time, we get it at another level, because we see more connections ? and rereading it, we, in effect, give the Buendias their “second opportunity on earth.”
In this way, Garcia Marquez has played his biggest trick, not so much on us his readers as on the novel as a literary genre. He has taken us into his confidence, so that both he and we at the end see just how the novel was constructed-not how he struggled to write it, but how he finally designed it to make it work as a whole.