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The Autumn of the Patriarch (Perennial Classics) Paperback – October 1, 1999

4.3 out of 5 stars 61 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Majestic...Superb...A stunning portrait of hte archetype, the pathological fascist tyrant." -- -- New York Times Book Review

"The Autumn of the Patriarch mines one of the darkest veins in Latin American political history. The central character is a composite of Trujillos, Batistas and Somozas. His is a genius at the barren politics of survival, capable and guilty of the most savage brutality, a lonely monster who shuffles through his palace every night, checking the locks, looking for assassins, lighting a lantern for a quick exit." -- America

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Spanish

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Product Details

  • Series: Perennial Classics
  • Paperback: 261 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial Modern Classics (October 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060932678
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060932671
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,213,829 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Bob Newman VINE VOICE on June 29, 2002
Format: Paperback
This is not a novel with a story, though it is a monstrous tale. It is a fantastic description of the rotten guts of tyranny. Enormous, steaming sentences, reeking with exotic images and jaguar tracks contain a sorrowful epic of the surreal politics of hot, underdeveloped places that know more corruption than justice. Weaving in and out, from one person's thoughts to another's, from one time to a second, with almost no dialogue, no conversation, no quotation marks, but moving from the mind of a general to dictator to "the people" to the female love interest and back again, Garcia Marquez spins a horrific story that is unlikely to be similar to anything you have read before. Maybe you will be satisfied to read this as a `one-off' kind of book that demands your total attention, all your powers of imagination and your determination. It is not a simple novel. I realized that Milorad Pavic, the Serbian author of fantastic tales, owes much to Garcia Marquez, sometimes even images (eggs of a certain day, news-spreading parrots).
The "Patriarch" is the ur-dictator, the tyrant personified, an old man who never steps down, who rules behind a double whose death thus gives rise to a legend of immortality. The dictator's underlings invent Potemkin everything; his palace is full of cripples, blind people, lepers, and domestic animals; he is a monster who, like all the tyrants he represents, cannot love, but only cultivate power. There is his mother, who failed to be a saint, the dynamited clergyman, the roasted general, the nun-mistress, the murdered children, the wife eaten by dogs. Was there anything he did not violate or corrupt ? Garcia Marquez gives one of the best-written pictures of the corruption of absolute power. The dictator is unnamed, perhaps a composite of Colombians, perhaps more.
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By GeoX on February 27, 2003
Format: Paperback
It's inevitable that this book should be somewhat off-putting compared to One Hundred Years of Solitude or Love in the Time of Cholera--Autumn of the Patriarch isn't really meant to be a 'pleasant' read. It is a grim portrait of the title character, and other characters come and go without having inner lives of their own; they have relevance only insofar as they intersect with his life. It is without a doubt one of the least novelistic novels you will ever read--indeed, in many ways it's more like a prolonged character study than a novel.
Some people complain about the style in which the book is written--no paragraph breaks, few chapter breaks, long run-on sentences (the final chapter--fifty pages or so--is one massive sentence), perspective shifts mid-sentence and even mid-clause--but the truth of the matter is that, although this can become a little bit wearing at times, it is by no means 'difficult.' Not in the sense that Ulysses, Gravity's Rainbow, and Absalom, Absalom! are difficult. It can occasionally be disorienting, but in general it's always pretty easy to tell what's going on, and the style results in a surreal, dreamlike atmosphere that, I think, is perfect for describing the General's long, nightmarish reign. Sure, it could have been written in a more conventional style, and it could well have still been a good book, but Garcia Marquez's decision to push narrative boundaries provides just the right feel. After all, the General is a composite of many Meso and South American tyrants, and to couch his reign in more concrete, everyday terms would have taken away some of his universality (his selling of the Caribbean is a clear demonstration of this, as well as one of the most striking literary metaphors you'll ever encounter).
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Format: Paperback
In his second novel, Gabriel García Márquez reinvents himself in the wonderful work of "Autumn of the Patriarch". The work took him 8 years to write, however the result was well worth the work. By using a stream of consiousness technique and constantly altering between first and third persons, García Márquez exhibits his techincal mastery. He transplants the reader into the mind and world of a dictator in an unnamed Latin American country. García Márquez really captures the mind and spirit of this solitary power. An important reading for understanding power in Latin America. Similar books include "Senor Presidente" by Miguel Angel Asturias and "Reasons of State" by Alejo Carpentier. This novel is particularly relevant with the circumstances surrounding ex-Chilean Dictator, Augusto Pinochet.
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Format: Paperback
Beware, those of you who have not read a Gabriel Garcia Marquez book yet! The style and literary techniques employed by the venerable author here are not, at first, user-friendly. In place of a sequence of actions, a run-on assault of descriptions tell the tale of a seemingly immortal yet completely despicable Caribbean tyrant. Sentences last for pages, each chapter is but one paragraph, the narrative perspective changes in mid-sentence, etc: This anti-traditional approach proves to be extremely rewarding, I felt the ending was even better than the build-up. Worthy of a score of Doctorate theses--but none by my hand. Upon finishing this book you will be awakened to a unique artistic literary style by one of the century's greatest authors--then go out and buy yourself some more Marquez novels. The more straightforward "General in his Labyrinth" and the illustrious "100 Years of Solitude" I also highly recommend.
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