Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Garcia Marquez 1

I'm enjoying reading Cien Anos de Soledad. As I've read it before in English I find that even though there are words in Spanish that I don't know I can keep reading without looking them up because I know the plot and am familiar with the way the book flows. To me this books exemplifies magical realism, and there are "magical" occurrences regularly within this first section.

One "magical" event that I find quite interesting is the insomnia illness that Rebeca brings with her to Macondo. First of all, it is an illness most known by the Indians whose role in the book I'm curious to observe more of . Secondly, the insomnia over time results in memory loss as well as what is essentially human regression to a state of being absent of knowledge. The theme of memory seems to be very central to this book, and is tied to the sense of time and the references to the past and future throughout the tale. Memory is also deeply tied to human knowledge, for as Jose Arcadio Buendia's temporary memory loss demonstrates, without memory one doesn't know the function of any objects. This is especially notable, because the book begins in a period when there were numerous things in the known world that had yet to be named. Thus, a cycle of knowledge and memory is created and reversed within the book.

I've also noticed a lot of references to peace and peacefulness in Macondo. The absence of death in Macondo until Maquialdes' passing marked the town as a place of life and relative harmony. For instance, when Don Apolinar Mascote appears in Macondo and presents himself as the town's magistrate, Jose Arcadio Buendia informs him that there is nothing that needs judging in Macondo. In a sense, Macondo is innocent. Once death occurs in Macondo, however, it seems that things begin to change. At the end of this first section we find out that a war is occurring throughout the region around Macondo, and is making its way to the town.

Macondo changes rapidly within the first section of the book. At first Macondo is a completely isolated town in which ice is the most fascinating discovery. Soon, however, with the influx of more people Macondo changes as do the ways people operate. For instance, all the birds that were commonly kept in cages in people's houses are freed and replaced with musical clocks. Technology and modernity creep into Macondo...I'm curious to read on and remember what other changes occur in the rest of the book.


  1. I also read this in English years ago, and it's almost creepy how the images and plot twists come back to me even through the language barrier. Cause I know I'm not entirely understanding the grammar and vocabulary, but I can still understand the story. There's nothing like feelin' smart!

  2. It's funny. Many people seem to have read this book before! But what's funnier is that many of them seem to be saying that they didn't finish it. I think it's just really hard to wrap your head around at first, but once you begin to understand the use of magical realism in the novel, the understanding becomes much easier.

    On another point, the part of the story where they replaced the birds with clocks to represent the modernity and technology of Macondo is my favorite part. Not because I think clocks are cooler than birds, but because it is so representative of our present culture. I find birds to be soothing and happy, where as clocks reinforce exact time, schedules, appointments, etc. To me, the introduction of clocks to Macondo's society is a representation of the end of a simple, and to me, a happier life.