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Gabriel Garci­a Marquez: The Early Years 1st Edition

24 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0312240332
ISBN-10: 0312240333
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this erudite biographical exploration of Gabriel García Márquez and his One Hundred Years of Solitude, Stavans follows García Márquez from his Colombian childhood in Aracataca through his time as law student and journalist, up to his screenwriting days in Mexico City. Stavans outlines the cultural, historical, and geographical factors that influenced the development of García Márquez's leftist politics and his view that 'good novels must be a poetic transposition of reality.' Stavans (Dictionary Days), Amherst College professor of Latin American and Latino culture, concludes that the Colombian author's contribution lies in his capacity to... renovate the novel as a literary genre, infusing it with ingredients indigenous to the Americas. This survey of García Márquez's literary heritage might prompt enthusiasts to further reading. (Jan.)
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An engaging, informative study tracking the small beginnings of a literary giant and his magnum opus...Stavans enlightens us, not just about one literary figure, but about the culture and history of a whole hemisphere... Stavans is a magical writer himself. (Julia Alvarez, author of How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents and In the Time of the Butterflies, and Once Upon A Quinceañera: Coming of Age in the USA)

Stavan's style is clear and accessible, amazing detailed yet magnetically mesmerizing. He's a wonderfully skilled writer exploring the world of Garcia's Marquez's life and times-- what shaped his aesthetics, the forces that honed his social sensibilities and his literary influences; extraordinary-- a must-read. (Jimmy Santiago Baca, author of A Glass of Water)

Ilan Stavans offers a vivid and humane account of Gabriel García Márquez and his world in the first four decades of his life, from the banana trains of his native Aracataca and the his experience as a journalist in Europe, his belief in Hemingway's power as a writer, and the surprise of One Hundred Years of Solitude and of his sudden emergence as a world-famous writer who would win the Nobel Prize. (Werner Sollors, author of Beyond Ethnicity and Henry B. and Anne M. Cabot Professor of English Literature and Professor of African and African American Studies, Harvard University)

Reading Ilan Stavans's Gabriel Garcia Marquez, The Early Years, I was reminded of Chekhov's observation that if you write a story about a man, a woman, and a beetle, the story is always about a man and a woman. In his compelling narrative of Garcia Marquez before the phenomenon of One hundred Years of Solitude, Ilan Stavans takes us on a fascinating guided tour of the great man's world from childhood to maturity, along the way, collecting the objects and the subjects, the beetles and the battles, all that would eventually coalesce into the vision of plenitude contained in one of the most influential novels in modern literary history. (Judith Ortiz Cofer, author of The Latin Deli and Regents’ and Franklin Professor of English, University of Georgia)

Ilan Stavans has given us a wondrous rendering of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who always wanted to be a magician, and ended up creating a magical kingdom in a tiny Caribbean town. Stavans displays his own magical hand in this muscular portrait of Garcia Marquez as a young man. (Jerome Charyn, author of The Secret Life Emily Dickinson)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 237 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; 1 edition (January 5, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312240333
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312240332
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.1 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,528,065 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By K. M. VINE VOICE on December 22, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The cover of Gabriel Garcia Marquez: The Early Years depicts a broken open pomegranate with its juice-laden seeds of a rich balaustine color. These brilliant red kernels, all bursting from one rind are potent imagery that can be likened to the fruits of a great writer who who may write many stories and novels but which all in some way promote one essential message. Garica Marquez once told someone, " 'a writer writes only one book, although the same book may appear in several volumes under different titles.' " Ilan Stavans, the prize-winning author or this brief look at Garcia Marquez (it is incomplete and impolite, Stavans writes, use only the final name, Marquez), is willing to run with that thesis. Stavans, who considers Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude to be one of only two Spanish-language masterpieces that "radically revamped our understanding of Hispanic civilization", shows that the make-believe town in the novel, Macondo, and its myriad characters are the culmination of years of percolation in Garcia Marquez's mind and in his previous published and unpublished writings. Stavans also makes the case that ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE was an inspired work: as Coleridge was divinely inspired to put down the lines of "Kubla Khan" so Garcia Marquez was inspired to pen, in eighteen months, this masterwork. However, Stavans suggests, "His inspiration didn't come from a divine source but from the injustice that surrounded him."

So, has Stavans written a biography or a literary criticism? Some of both.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By MICHAEL G LUSTIG VINE VOICE on December 11, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
In this fine book, Ilan Stavans, the prolific author and professor of Latin American and Latino Culture at Amherst College, discusses the first four decades of Garcia Marquez's life and work to the publication of his best selling One Hundred Years of Solitude. In the introduction, the author explains that his intent is not to do a full scale biography of Garcia Marquez but rather to explore "the background to One Hundred Years of Solitude: what prompted it and what were the conditions under which it was gestated?" In the first of a projected two volume biography, Stavans concentrates on Garcia Marquez's masterpiece, particularly how the author was able to "transform life into fiction." Stavans succeeds very well in this attempt.

While not a biography in the traditional sense, Stavans provides clues as to what prompted Garcia Marquez to write what Stavans considers to be one of only two "masterpieces written in Spanish," the other being Don Quixote. Stavans explores Garcia Marquez's birth and childhood in Aracataca, his career as a law student, journalist, and then as a screenwriter in Mexico City. Garcia Marquez's experiences shaped his thoughts, Stavans claims, particularly his childhood in Aracataca which lies "in the northwestern region of South America as well as the lower edge of the Caribbean basin," the location making him feel as if "he was part of two worlds." This cultural conflict influenced Garcia Marquez's politics and led him to write "with ingredients indigenous to the Americas."

Stavans, in exploring the thoughts and intentions of one man, manages to also convey the history and emotions of a whole hemisphere as well as those of Garcia Marquez's family and friends.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Elisa 20 TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 19, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Many biographies can be read and enjoyed thoroughly without actually being familiar with the subject's work. This is often true whether the subject is a historical figure, or an artist or even a writer (whose work is usually much more easily and directly available).

"Gabriel Garcia Marquez: The Early Years" is not that biography. Yes, it goes into considerable detail about the author's life from an early age. Ilan Stavans is meticulous in showing the parallels between Marquez's life, interests and the places he knew, and his book which is already an acknowledged masterpiece in world literature. This is not easy research to do (and is complicated by straddling cultures), and is even more difficult to weave together into coherent, interesting and insightful prose.

Stavans has pulled all this research together in a way that makes "Early Years" a great gift for anyone who loves the novel--or even to anyone who plans to read it soon for the first time. For readers like me who were unfamiliar with many of the historical and cultural references that are so important to Marquez, this is an essential companion to the novel. It explains so much that will be unfamiliar to most American readers that, seeing this book now (after reading "One Hundred Years of Solitude" twenty years ago), it seems inconceivable to me that I could ever have understood much about the novel.

This would be a fine book to read first if you plan to read "One Hundred Years" soon after. Or, to read them together. But it is not really the biography I would choose to learn about Marquez himself, his feelings and inner response to the personal events that shaped him. Insofar as he has put those into his novel, THAT still remains his best "biography". And insofar as one can have (and wants to read) a biography of a book, not a man, "Gabriel Garcia Marquez: The Early Years", is that book
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