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A Literary Monument
on January 5, 2001
I read somewhere that the admirers of "One Hundred Years of Solitude" (a novel that brought the Nobel Prize for Garcia in 1982) would be surprised to know that Gabriel Garcia Marquez has bettered it in the form of "Love in the Time of Cholera". Well, although I found the latter half of it a little cloggy, I was a great admirer of One Hundred Years of Solitude. But after reading Love in the Time of Cholera, I think it's not fair to compare as different works of fiction as these two novels are, and it won't do any good to Garcia as well.
The only thing common to these two novels, however, is the prose of Garcia. He weaves, with the dexterity of a master craftsman, small characters and trifle incidents into the vast fabric of the novels. Effortlessly moving from character to character and incident to incident, he provides small pegs and footholds to the reader so that he could ascend, like a rock-climber, to his colossal literary monuments. This is especially true for Love in the Time of Cholera, where the reader is provided with a spectacular finale and one feels indeed like setting foot at the summit of Mount Everest after reading the novel. This is by far the best ending of a novel that I have read so far.
There are dozens of important characters in Love in the Time of Cholera but I think the two most important protagonists are Love and Time. And both of them are so intricately interwoven together that sometimes it becomes difficult to tell which is which -- like two shrubs that run up the length of a tall tropical tree. The love of Florentino Ariza, a thin and shy boy, for the beautiful but whimsical Fermina Daza is unlike any in the literature. And in order to have her, our hero must overcome time (half a century!), her aloofness and more than 400 love affairs! I guess even Hercules would have given up in face of these obstacles.
Unlike many other great writers, Garcia has little inhibitions. He is not ashamed of hiding emotions or sugarcoating his ideas; he simply does not believe in euphemisms. You can see everything in bare, harsh light: scars, warts, blemishes, all. Reminds one of ... Life.