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One Hundred Years of Solitude (Harper Perennial Modern Classics) Paperback – February 21, 2006
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"Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice."
It is typical of Gabriel García Márquez that it will be many pages before his narrative circles back to the ice, and many chapters before the hero of One Hundred Years of Solitude, Buendía, stands before the firing squad. In between, he recounts such wonders as an entire town struck with insomnia, a woman who ascends to heaven while hanging laundry, and a suicide that defies the laws of physics:
A trickle of blood came out under the door, crossed the living room, went out into the street, continued on in a straight line across the uneven terraces, went down steps and climbed over curbs, passed along the Street of the Turks, turned a corner to the right and another to the left, made a right angle at the Buendía house, went in under the closed door, crossed through the parlor, hugging the walls so as not to stain the rugs, went on to the other living room, made a wide curve to avoid the dining-room table, went along the porch with the begonias, and passed without being seen under Amaranta's chair as she gave an arithmetic lesson to Aureliano José, and went through the pantry and came out in the kitchen, where Úrsula was getting ready to crack thirty-six eggs to make bread.
"Holy Mother of God!" Úrsula shouted.
The story follows 100 years in the life of Macondo, a village founded by José Arcadio Buendía and occupied by descendants all sporting variations on their progenitor's name: his sons, José Arcadio and Aureliano, and grandsons, Aureliano José, Aureliano Segundo, and José Arcadio Segundo. Then there are the women--the two Úrsulas, a handful of Remedios, Fernanda, and Pilar--who struggle to remain grounded even as their menfolk build castles in the air. If it is possible for a novel to be highly comic and deeply tragic at the same time, then One Hundred Years of Solitude does the trick. Civil war rages throughout, hearts break, dreams shatter, and lives are lost, yet the effect is literary pentimento, with sorrow's outlines bleeding through the vibrant colors of García Márquez's magical realism. Consider, for example, the ghost of Prudencio Aguilar, whom José Arcadio Buendía has killed in a fight. So lonely is the man's shade that it haunts Buendía's house, searching anxiously for water with which to clean its wound. Buendía's wife, Úrsula, is so moved that "the next time she saw the dead man uncovering the pots on the stove she understood what he was looking for, and from then on she placed water jugs all about the house."
With One Hundred Years of Solitude Gabriel García Márquez introduced Latin American literature to a world-wide readership. Translated into more than two dozen languages, his brilliant novel of love and loss in Macondo stands at the apex of 20th-century literature. --Alix Wilber --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“More lucidity, wit, wisdom, and poetry than is expected from 100 years of novelists, let alone one man.” (Washington Post Book World)
“The first piece of literature since the Book of Genesis that should be required reading for the entire human race.” (William Kennedy, New York Times Book Review)
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Top customer reviews
Although I feel I missed a lot about what was going on symbolically whilst reading (mostly a lot of the religious stuff), I still found this book to be extremely enjoyable. It's inspiring and surreal, whimsical, funny and sad--and it all causes a person to feel very introspective, because it blends so many aspects of what makes up a person's life. I looked up some of the themes and motifs after reading to make sure I caught everything, and I prefer many of my own interpretations. And I think Gabriel Garcia Marquez meant to write it in a way that was a more personal experience. At the end notes, he mentions in an interview how he wanted to capture the way an abuela tells stories to her grandchildren-- and I got that vibe the whole time. And a lot of times, the surreal in crazy old latin american stories is what makes you remember the life lessons behind the story. And I feel like that's what happened here.
But again, I feel like most people I know wouldn't like this book, and I can see where they're coming from. It definitely isn't for everyone. And I must stress that that's not coming from a pretentious place. His writing style will be frustrating to many readers I'd presume, because it's really just incredibly unique. But, if you can get past the style (long paragraphs, little fluctuation in narration, mentioning things that haven't really happened yet, or no main protagonist... etc) and the repetition of names, it really isn't super complicated or anything.
It isn't perfect, but It's great. And even though I started this review planning to give it four stars, after writing it--I think it's an important enough, and intricately weaved enough, and a unique enough a piece to warrant a 5-star from this fella.
It chronicles a family through a hundred years. It's dense storytelling, like a condensed soup, where an entire story is told in the span of a page. It's a huge chronicle, like reading the summary of a century's old soap opera. Like The Simpsons, storylines repeat. But that's the point of the book. Sometimes they learn from their mistakes, other times the characters (all of the protagonists are of a single family) are ignorant of their family's past.
It also introduced me to the world of magical-realism, where magic is rare, but exists, disguised as coincidences.
I HIGHLY recommend this novel.
In One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez has done nothing less than recount human history and, yes, even human nature itself, seen from every angle, in a mere 417 pages.
Since many of the reviewers here have identified the glories of this breathtaking novel far better than I could, it would be redundant and presumptuous to paraphrase their observations.
Suffice to say that One Hundred Years of Solitude marks a leap forward in the art of fiction comparable to those achieved by Proust and Joyce.
William Kennedy wrote: "One Hundred Years of Solitude is the first piece of literature since the Book of Genesis that should be required reading for the entire human race", and Salman Rushdie called it "the greatest novel in any language in the last fifty years".
I've read it eleven times in the past three decades and, believe me, it is the ultimate Gift That Keeps On Giving.
Please give it a try. After all, like me, you may end up cherishing this book for what all great art truly is: a joy forever.