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One Hundred Years of Solitude (Oprah's Book Club) Paperback – January 20, 2004
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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
"Fecund, savage, irresistible...in all their loves, madness, and wars, their alliances, compromises, dreams and deaths...The characters rear up large and rippling with life against the green pressure of nature itself." -- Paul West, Book World
"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
Top Customer Reviews
Now, be warned: this is not a clear-cut story; the prose can be confusing, and the repetition of names makes it more difficult by far to keep track of who is who. The novel does indeed cover one hundred years, so expect to see favorite characters die if they first appear early on. There is no one protagonist. The family is the protagonist--the family, and the town.
Perhaps despite these potential confusions and perhaps because of them, Marquez has woven in this book a shroud of mysteriousness and magical realism that make reading it something like stepping into a dream; his Macondo is like nowhere else on Earth (or at least nowhere I have ever heard of), and things at once comic, tragic, and unreal can happen there. You will find dreamers and would-be scientists, layabouts and soldiers, matriarchs and wantons in this enchanted household. Enchantment of a murky sort hovers over the land like a haze, touching everything and separating the descendants of Jose Arcadio from the world as we know it.
You may not want to read it in one sitting; you may find yourself putting it down for awhile, confused or exasperated by the latest turn of events, but it is quite likely that you will pick it up again in due course with curiosity drawing you back into the realm Marquez has created. As classics go, this is one worthy of the title, and it is a story to be savored.
Like many other epics, this book has deeply-rooted connections with historical reality, i.e., the development of Colombia since its independence from Spain in the early 19th century. The story of the Buendia family is obviously a metaphor for Colombia in the neocolonial period as well as a narrative concerning the myths in Latin American history.
The finest example of magic realism, One Hundred Years of Solitude is a wonderfully comic novel, yet the book also exudes a pervading sense of irony; a strong undercurrent of sadness, solitude and tragic futility. The intermingling of the fantastic with the ordinary keeps readers in a state of constant anticipation, especially where the generations of Buendia men are concerned.
Some of this extraordinary novel's most important effects are achieved through the interplay of time as both linear and circular. The founding of Macondo and its narrative, for the most part, follow time in a linear sense, as does the history of the Buendia family, who form a series of figures symbolizing the particular historical period of which they are a part.
The book, however is almost obsessively circular in its outlook, as characters repeat, time and again, the experience of earlier generations. The book's fatalism is underscored by this circular sense of time. Even a name a person is given at birth predetermines his or her life and manner of death, e.g., the Aurelianos were all lucid, solitary figures, while the Jose Arcadios were energetic and enterprising, albeit tragic.Read more ›
But the struggle is worth it. This was truly the great novel that Garcia Marquez was meant to write; to me everything of Marquez that followed seems like recycled material. I first read One Hundred Years of Solitude years ago before moving to Latin America. Now that I here and have read it again, many of the messages that before were inaccessible now reveal themselves. The Story of Macondo is the story of Colombia and, to a larger extent, of Latin America. The reviewers tell us this, but it is amazing to see it with my own eyes.
The literal and the fantastic are interwoven with a seamlessness that amazes. One compares his style with Kafka before and Kundera after, literary voice established in this novel has withstood the test of time. It remains unique.
The book is at once funny, sad, tragic; it's history and fantasy. But overall it is a marvelous read. Clearly one of my all time favorites. There are very few books that I recommend as highly as this one. A true classic.
Just because I gave this book a 5-star rating doesn't mean I think everyone will like it. In my experience most will not. That's because the book is hazy and doesn't make sense. I often found myself flipping back 100 pages to figure out how the current character was related to the other previous characters. Sometimes I would find that the current character was the same character that had died or disappeared 100 pages previously.
If you don't know already this book is the fictionalized story of generations of a family and the latin-american town in which they live. It was one of the first books to be written in a style that is called "magic-realism". That means that the book doesn't have to make sense.
This book is one of the top books I have ever read because it is the history of the world and everyone in it. I found myself over and over identifying with a character or recognizing someone I knew in a character. And as far as the "magic-realism", I find that that is exactly the way life really is. I found that this book applies to everyone and its themes and characters are universal. Don't make the mistake of thinking this is just a latin-american genre book. Nor should you think it is a dense, philosophical novel. The stories and sub-plots are captivating and interesting.
In short, this book is weird and wonderful. Give it a shot and you might be surprised as I was.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I had long hear people reference the work of Gabriel Garcia Marquez and I am so glad that I broke down and read this book. Read morePublished 17 hours ago by Emma
This is not a book to read over the course of weeks. You'll need to keep a steady pace just to keep up with the many (and similar) names of the characters.Published 14 days ago by sleepoverband
A stupid little book, full of idiots, cripples, freaks and dummies. The writing is good, no doubt about it, but so what? Read morePublished 15 days ago by JTR
Is this book somewhat challenging? Certainly. Is there a book (or any work of art) that changes your life or perspective that doesn't somehow challenge you? Not in my experience. Read morePublished 17 days ago by Si G.
My daughter had to read this for her summer reading book. In her words:
I am a student in the IB program, and I was assigned this book to read and annotate over the... Read more