“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…”
Title: One Hundred Years of Solitude
Author: Gabriel García Márquez
Language: English (Originally Spanish)
Publication details: London: Penguin Books, 2014. (First published 1967)
As usual, I popped by Goodreads to see the general opinion towards this book, and as much as it is regarded a classic, there is no small amount of hate towards it as well (as for most classics). What really irked people was the confusingly repetitive family names and lines, the tumultuously changing point of view of the story, and the fact that there wasn’t one stable plot, but a few hundred different little stories all woven together to construct a tangled mess of embroidery with an off-beat color palette and strands of string sticking out and ending in dead knots.
Yeah, picture that for a second, because that’s what the story was for me.
And I loved it! When I think of this book I just think “Wow”…it transported me to another world and left me living, breathing and eagerly deciphering the history of the village of Macondo. Since the starting line of the book, when it talked about Colonel Aureliano Buendía’s father taking him to see ice, I was already hooked and wondering where this story was going to go. I admit, the plot is far from linear, like moons away, but it’s such a beautifully tangled mess in my eyes. I didn’t mind the p.o.v.’s just leaping from character to character with reckless abandon, because I felt that that was how life was like in Macondo, and it suited the atmosphere of the story.
“…time was not passing…it was turning in a circle…”
“Gaston was not only a fierce lover, with endless wisdom and imagination, but he was also, perhaps, the first man in the history of the species who had made an emergency landing and had come close to killing himself and his sweetheart simply to make love in a field of violets.”
Having said that, the passionate bouts of love usually culminated in words and acts of true devotion, so despite it all, I was still pretty touched.
Take for example, Petra Cotes, who was Aureliano Segundo’s secret lover despite his wife Fernanda’s indignant protests (yes, I had to look up their names. No way I remembered who the heck was who). Everyday she made mad passionate love with Aureliano Segundo, the more they screwed, the more their animals screwed, which was a win-win for all. So they started getting really prosperous and wealthy. After a rain which never stopped destroyed their crops and livestock, they were left destitute and ruined. Just when you think “Aha! They were so in love when they were well-off, but now that they’re in ruins they’ll realize how their love was more lust than anything…”, this whammy of a line comes out:
“He dug so deeply into her sentiments that in search of interest he found love, because by trying to make her love him he ended up falling in love with her. Petra Cotes, for her part, loved him more and more as she felt his love increasing, and that was how in the ripeness of autumn she began to believe once more in the youthful superstition that poverty was the servitude of love. Both looked back then on the wild revelry, the gaudy wealth, and the unbridled fornication as an annoyance and they lamented that it had cost them so much of their lives to find the paradise of shared solitude. Madly in love after so many years of sterile complicity, they enjoyed the miracle of living each other as much at the table as in bed, and they grew to be so happy that even when they were two worn-out people they kept on blooming like little children and playing together like dogs.”
“Little by little, studying the infinite possibilities of a loss of memory, he realized that the day might come when things would be recognized by their inscriptions but that no one would remember their use…. At the beginning of the road into the swamp they put up a sign that said “Macondo” and another larger one on the main street that said “God exists”.”