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on May 5, 2014
One Hundred Years of Solitude really isn't as difficult or confusing as some reviews make it seem. People make it seem like it's impossible to get through so many repeating names, but even when the characters share a name, almost every single character (until the last generation--and by that point the first characters are long gone so that it wasn't really confusing) has a unique name. How is that confusing? And anyway, it doesn't take too many chapters or a genius to figure out they all share the same names for a reason. Also, I must say, if you don't like the first 50-100 pages, you probably aren't going to like the rest of the book. It stays like that... Plus, the first Jose Arcadio Buendia is one of the more entertaining characters in the book, in my opinion. But, I think Aureliano Segundo and Remedios The Beauty were the highlights in this book. I was cracking up throughout their scenes.

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.
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on April 17, 2015
In The Aleph, Jorge Luis Borges' sublime short story, "all the places of the world, seen from every angle, coexist" in a single point of light a mere two or three centimeters in diameter.
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.
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on May 24, 2017
I haven't got through much yet, but you should know, the Oprah Book Club paperback edition is poorly printed. It has halftoning and jagged letterforms and edges, which makes it less easy to read. Not impossible, but just not great. If you can, find another printing.
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on January 3, 2017
I first read One Hundred Years of Solitude in my Latin American Literature course and I've been hooked on Gabriel Garcia Marquez ever since. The plot and timeline move quickly and fold in on themselves, making each page interesting, but a little tough to chew on. This is not a light read. If you blink you'll miss something. It's definitely one of my favorite books and I'll read it time and time again. This book is the pinnacle of magical realism.
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on April 2, 2018
this is a stunning work, with a translation that is worthy of the author. i was an english teacher and a colleague had dual citizenship with colombia and she read both versions of this work and couldn't decide between the two. i've only read the english translation, but even the translation puts it in the top tier of all the novels i've read. that's good news and bad news maybe. that means that the work is easily available to english-speakers, but that doesn't make it any easier to read as a work of literature. my guess is that it can be read on several levels at once, but i've never talked to anyone about the novel who wasn't a lit major. this work is so different and so interesting, you should try reading it no matter what your school experience with literature has been.
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on October 2, 2017
I am quite the avid reader, and I like to ask people for book recommendations. This book was recommended to me by my economics professor, and I read it when I got the chance.

Out of the dozens of books I've read this year, this has stuck out as among my favorites I've ever read. The story is moving, thought provoking, and challenging. The way the characters are depicted changed the way I see how people interact with the world. The theme of solitude is strong in the book, and it has changed the way I think about changes in the world. I fully recommend that everyone read this book.
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on May 2, 2013
I picked up '100 Years of Solitude' as what i hoped would be an uplifting break from the Collected works of Kafka, and it's hard to imagine a less Kafkaesque writer than Gabriel Garcia Marquez. If Kafka's great strength was to revel in the tortured misery of the familair, Marquez is equally deft at summoning the tender caprice within death and decay. After 'magical realism' became a trend, a lot of authors (and filmmakers, and painters, etc) took it in a direction that was very fantastical without a solid grounding in the sort of genuine folklore spirit that '100 years' has. One of the biggest problems I see in magical realism and realistic fantasy is when its writers are obsessed with the things they have created while losing the plot of the creation; they become engineers of their made up world and suck away the essence of what made it magical to begin with. That works great for things like D&D, but it doesn't make a real solid story, the kind you could tell a child falling asleep around a fire. 100 Years of Solitude is like a personal Bible - not that what happens in it is biblical or Christian in any but the most superficial sense, rather, a peek into what a world would be like if every family wrote their own Bible.
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on August 17, 2017
My favorite book - but I hate the translation. So puritanical, takes the beauty and eroticism out of the story. Makes all sex sound perverted, dirty and sick - which in this novel, it often is, but it's also mesmerizing and infatuating and obsessive, and I think this English translation completely ignores that. We need a better translation. So glad I didn't read it in English when I first came across it.
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I first read "One Hundred Years of Solitude" not long after it was first published in English, almost 40 years ago. It was a wonderful, and magically, if you will, introduction to Latin American literature. Subsequently, I've read several other works by Marquez, notably, Love in the Time of Cholera (Vintage International) some 20 years later, but none have quite cast the spell of my first "love," this one, so I figured a re-read was in order. The "magic" of magic realism has lost none of its charm.

The story involves six generations of one family, established by Jose Arcadio Buendia and Ursula Iguaran, who also helped found the town of Macondo, in the lowlands of Columbia, though the country is never specifically identified. The in-breeding (and also out-breeding) in this one family is simply astonishing. I can't remember if the original edition had a genealogical chart at the beginning, but this one does, and it provides an invaluable reference in keeping the philanderings, and the subsequent progeny, straight, particularly since numerous individuals over the generations have the same name. What is the "Scarlet Letter" that is prophesized for a family with such a high degree of consanguinity? That a child will be born with a pig's tail.

Marquez dazzles the reader with the intensity of his writing; it's as though he had a 1600 page book in him, but is given a 400 page limit. It is the furious sketching of a street artist, making every line count in a portrait. The strengths, follies, and interactions of the men and women are depicted in memorable events. And there seems to be a realistic balance and development of his characters. Marquez is also the master of segue, from one event to the other, and from one generation to another, with his characters moving from swaddling clothes, on to adulthood, and then into their decrepitude.

From my first reading, I had remembered Rebeca, with her "shameful" addiction to eating dirt. First time around, I chalked it up to Marquez's "magical realism," since no one really ate dirt. Several years later I learned that it is a wide-spread medical problem, often driven by a mineral deficiency that the person is trying to remediate. The author also describes the disease of insomnia which was spread to Macondo, with an accompanying plague of forgetfulness. Magical realism, or the forgetfulness of the "now" generation that has lost the stories of the past?

Establishing the time period comes slowly. Marquez mentions Sir Frances Drake, but he is in the unspecified past. It is only when a family portrait is taken, as a daguerreotype photo, that one realizes it must be in the 1840's-50's, with six generations to go. There are a multitude of themes: since this IS Latin America, Marquez has the obligatory gringos and their banana plantations (alas, all too true); there is endless, senseless war, with the two sides eventually unable to state what they are fighting for, except, of course, the war itself; there are the women who drive men crazy with their beauty, and there is the spitefulness of women to each other (alas, again, the "sisterhood'); there is economic development, and a worker's revolt, and the use of other members of the same class, but in uniform, who repress it; there is the role of the Catholic Church in Latin America, and even a family member who would be Pope and there are unflinching portrayals of the aging process, alas, to the third power.

On the re-read, I noticed a portion of the novel that was much further developed in Innocent Erendira: and Other Stories (Perennial Classics). Also nestled in the book was an important reference: "Taken among them were Jose Arcadio Segundo and Lorenzo Gavilan, a colonel in the Mexican revolution, exiled in Macondo, who said that he had been witness to the heroism of his comrade Artemio Cruz." Checking Marquez bio, he has been a long-time friend of Carlos Fuentes, slipped this reference in 100 years, which is an omen for me, since I was considering re-reading Fuentes marvelous The Death of Artemio Cruz: A Novel (FSG Classics) And in terms of omens, redux even, do future travel plans include meeting another character in the book, the Queen of Madagascar?

I recently had dinner with a woman who had been Ambassador to one of the Latin American countries. Spanish is her native language, and she still reads some of the Latin American writers in Spanish to "keep her language skills up." As for "100 years," she had read it four times, each time in English. It's a record I am unlikely to repeat, but this novel, which honors the Nobel Prize with its name, could use a third read, if I am granted enough time. It ages well, sans decrepitude, and provided much more meaning the second time around. 6-stars.
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on March 18, 2018
Everything you have heard about this book is true--it is magically written, and the magical realism only adds to the intelligent portrayal of a society that unfolds. The language is so lyrical that your senses are fully involved, and when the details of the story start to bog down, it doesn't matter. The characters in different generations have the same or similar names as a reminder of how life changes--but never really does. I don't know how I missed this book when I was in college, but even reading it many years later, it was a stunning experience.
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