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Customer Review

on July 6, 2000
One Hundred Years of Solitude, the greatest of all Latin American novels is the magic and multi-layered epic of the Buendia family and the story of their jungle settlement, Macondo.
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.
The characters in One Hundred Years of Solitude represent the purest archetypes; they are two dimensional and are used to convey certain thematic points. This enhances the beauty of the novel rather than detracting from it, for One Hundred Years of Solitude is thematic and metaphorical in nature rather than psychological.
The male figures are obsessive, and full of ambitious projects and passionate sexuality. They are, however, given to extreme anger, irrational violence and long periods of self-imposed solitude.
The female characters also lend themselves to categorization. With the exception of the Remedios, the women in the book exhibit either common sense and determination or passionate eroticism. But while the men are dreamy and irrational, the women are firmly rooted in reality. Both sexes, however, embody a similar fatal flaw; they lack the ability to relate to the world outside of Macondo. They fall victim to their own constructions, plunging them into a harsh and long-lasting solitude.
Macondo is fated to end the moment one of its inhabitants deciphers Melquiades the Gypsy's manuscripts regarding the town's history. In a sense, however, Macondo does survive. One of the few who take the advice of the Catalan bookseller and leave the town before its destruction is Gabriel Garcia Marquez, himself, who escapes with the complete works of Rabelais.
This self-referential ending, pointing to the world beyond Macondo from which Garcia Marquez is telling the story tells us that whatever life is to be lived in Latin America should not be the magic but self-defeating experience of the Buendias, but rather an ever-widening life of learning and moving on; the development of an awareness of doing what each situation requires.
Garcia Marquez is more than a Nobel Prize winning author. He is a magician par excellence; someone whose unique ability to produce a magical realm where anything is possible and everything is believable is unrivaled. This is the overwhelming reason why this dazzling masterpiece does, and will continue to attract, convince and hypnotize readers for decades to come.
327 helpful votes
328 helpful votes
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