Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Cien años de soledad thus far seems to be a novel of great proportion (as I would expect if it’s being leveled with the book of Genesis), with a very intricate story line explaining the town of Macondo through the descendants of José Arcadio Buendía and Úrsula Iguarán. I have to say, I’m a bit nervous to say that I think I’m following what’s going on, but I’ll quickly add that it’s probably only surface material. Through the lineage of José Arcadio Buendía, we begin to see the interactions of the Spanish settlers and the gypsies, along with the native people of South America that cross paths in Macondo. I’m guessing that through these stories, García Márquez symbolically explains historical relationships between different groups of people and the evolution of the land in relationship with the Spanish settlers. There are traces of historical information in the story, such as the exploration of new territories and the importance of new technologies, but I am interested to know if there’s a reason that these essential advances are attributed to the gypsies. More importantly, I’d like to understand the symbolism behind Melquíades, who seems to be a staple and a guiding source within the text. Up to the point that I’ve gotten (a little over halfway), I also feel some sort of symbolism in regards to the characters of the two sons, José Arcadio and Aureliano. It made me think a bit about the prodigal sons, a story from the Bible, but I may be going out on a limb there. Actually, overall I feel that by the way that García Márquez describes the individual characters with their contradicting personalities, it creates a tension and a drive in the story. The story is moving along, but truthfully, it isn’t a typical cliff-hanging/page-turner plotline (yet?). Another initial reaction to add and that I’m intrigued to discover as I continue the book is how exactly the story changes from maintaining a pre-colonial, untamed vibe that I gather from Macondo and the José Arcadio Buendía family in which the family literally discovers ice and magic carpets at traveling circuses that pass through town to the most certain death of Aureliano facing a firing squad (which curiously evokes a feeling of much more modern and real history). In this way, and so far through the writing style as well, I feel that Cien años de soledad manages to balance the tipped scales between Leyendas de Guatemala and El reino de este mundo in the sense that it has the fantastic/magical on the same plane with the historical in a much more blended fashion. I’m not quite sure yet how to elaborate on that, but I’ll hopefully be able to add more in a future update.


  1. Hey Megan, nice post. I'm not very well versed in matters of a Biblical nature either, but it certainly seems that allusions to the Bible are indeed coursing through the veins of Marquez's prose. As a side note, I found it interesting that you pointed out the contrast between José's sons. One is a spitting image of his father in many respects, while the other is almost a polar opposite. I don't know if this will have some significant implication at a later point in the novel, but one can speculate that it's a definite possibility.

  2. Oh yes, there are plenty of biblical allusions here. But these are also more generally gestures towards a mythic or epic tradition.

    Meanwhile, it's worth thinking further about the differences from Carpentier's novel. After all, Carpentier's is basically a historical novel (about a real place, full of real figures and events), in which there is a significant dimension of what he calls the "marvellous real." It's certainly true that here the balance between history and fiction (to put it that way) is much more delicately poised. Moreover, there are no longer merely two perspectives, but a multitude of them.