Sunday, March 7, 2010

A whole new perspective on time

After the second segment of Cien años de soledad, I am starting to see why some may consider this book to be literally magical. García Márquez stretches the act of writing beyond descriptive means, using the element of time and changing the typical role of narration (which until now, I took for granted and only really considered from one approach) to create a dynamic structure in the novel that transforms the Buendía family into a representation of an entire society. For example, I started to feel like I needed to re-read pages quite frequently as I got about ¾ of the way through the second segment. At first, I thought it was because I was tired, but upon reexamining the text, I realized that it really is pretty damn sneaky. García Márquez gives the characters all very similar names, whether it be that they are literally the same or else that they start with the same letters. Many times, these characters with similar names might also share a similar fate, making the reader start to question who is who and how/if the characters really are two separate people.

It has been an adjustment to figure out how to approach Cien años de soledad; in my opinion, García Márquez completely redefines the saying, “And the plot thickens…” The novel is a complete work that cannot be separated, but rather, should be viewed as a whole, a process that begins with a family and a somewhat simple storyline that thickens and expands and tangles in itself as the generations of the José Arcadio Buendía family spread out and cross over themselves. This lineage creates a bit of a mind trip as individuals perpetuate the same acts as their fathers/ mothers/ sisters/ brothers etc. Time seems to be progressing but repeating itself simultaneously; García Márquez creates a vacuum in which the same story is retold over and over, both literally (through the narration of events that occur simultaneously, but are explained from different perspectives separately) and by the repetitive action of the Buendía family themselves. It is a motivating read, but exhausting at the same time, and almost impossible to reiterate. It would probably take another three or four reviews of the novel in order for me to even begin to explain what is going on. But from that standpoint, I feel like the actual events in the novel aren’t the main focus, but rather the sensation of time that García Márquez evokes and what this says about a particular society.


  1. Thickens is a great word to use, like the jungle would thicken and become denser, the family's heritage is all crisscrosses. Funny that it starts with the family tree at the beginning to sort-of point out just how confusing it can get.

  2. Yes, the plot definitely thickens... and proliferates, and repeats, and diverges, and returns back on itself.

    There are, however, a few constants: Macondo itself; the house; and several characters who are inordinately long-lived, such as Ursula or Colonel Aureliano Buendía.

    Ursula, especially, also comments on the changes and repetitions that she has seen and lived out before her very eyes.