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One Hundred Years of Solitude (Garcia Marquez)

One Hundred Years of Solitude
Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1967
HarperCollins
417 pp.
ISBN-13: 9780060883287


Summary
A New York Times Book of the Century

One of the 20th century's enduring works, One Hundred Years of Solitude is a widely beloved and acclaimed novel known throughout the world, and the ultimate achievement in a Nobel Prize–winning career.

The novel tells the story of the rise and fall of the mythical town of Macondo through the history of the Buendía family. It is a rich and brilliant chronicle of life and death, and the tragicomedy of humankind. In the noble, ridiculous, beautiful, and tawdry story of the Buendía family, one sees all of humanity, just as in the history, myths, growth, and decay of Macondo, one sees all of Latin America.

Love and lust, war and revolution, riches and poverty, youth and senility — the variety of life, the endlessness of death, the search for peace and truth — these universal themes dominate the novel. Whether he is describing an affair of passion or the voracity of capitalism and the corruption of government, Gabriel García Márquez always writes with the simplicity, ease, and purity that are the mark of a master.

Alternately reverential and comical, One Hundred Years of Solitude weaves the political, personal, and spiritual to bring a new consciousness to storytelling. Translated into dozens of languages, this stunning work is no less than an accounting of the history of the human race. (From the publisher.)

More
The mythic village of Macondo lies in northern Colombia, somewhere in the great swamps between the mountains and the coast. Founded by Jose Arcadio Buendia, his wife Ursula, and nineteen other families, "It was a truly happy village where no one was over thirty years of age and where no one had died."

At least initially. One Hundred Years of Solitude chronicles, through the course of a century, life in Macondo and the lives of six Buendia generations — from Jose Arcadio and Ursula, through their son, Colonel Aureliano Buendia (who commands numerous revolutions and fathers eighteen additional Aurelianos), through three additional Jose Arcadios, through Remedios the Beauty and Renata Remedios, to the final Aureliano, child of an incestuous union.

As babies are born and the world's "great inventions" are introduced into Macondo, the village grows and becomes more and more subject to the workings of the outside world, to its politics and progress, and to history itself. And the Buendias and their fellow Macondons advance in years, experience, and wealth ... until madness, corruption, and death enter their homes.

From the gypsies who visit Macondo during its earliest years to the gringos who build the banana plantation, from the "enormous Spanish galleon" discovered far from the sea to the arrival of the railroad, electricity, and the telephone, Gabriel Garcia Marquez's classic novel weaves a magical tapestry of the everyday and the fantastic, the humdrum and the miraculous, life and death, tragedy and comedy — a tapestry in which the noble, the ridiculous, the beautiful, and the tawdry all contribute to an astounding vision of human life and death, afull measure of humankind's inescapable potential and reality. (Also from the publisher.)



Author Bio 
Birth—March 06, 1928
Where—Aracataca, Colombia
Education—Universidad Nacional de Colombia; Universidad
   de Cartagena
Awards—Nobel Prize, 1982
Currently—lives in Mexico City, Mexico


Gabriel García Márquez is the product of his family and his nation. Born in the small coastal town of Aracataca in northern Colombia, he was raised by his maternal grandparents. As a child, he was mesmerized by stories spun by his grandmother and her sisters — a rich gumbo of superstitions, folk tales, and ghost stories that fired his youthful imagination. And from his grandfather, a colonel in Colombia's devastating Civil War, he learned about his country's political struggles. This potent mix of Liberal politics, family lore, and regional mythology formed the framework for his magical realist novels.

When his grandfather died, García Márquez was sent to Sucre to live (for the first time) with his parents. He attended university in Bogota, where he studied law in accordance with his parents' wishes. It was here that he first read The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka and discovered a literature he understood intuitively — one with nontraditional plots and structures, just like the stories he had known all his life. His studies were interrupted when the university was closed, and he moved back north, intending to pursue both writing and law; but before long, he quit school to pursue a career in journalism.

Writing
In 1954 his newspaper sent García Márquez on assignment to Italy, marking the start of a lifelong self-imposed exile from the horrors of Colombian politics that took him to Barcelona, Paris, New York, and Mexico. Influenced by American novelist William Faulkner, creator of the fictionalized Yoknapatawpha County, and by the powerful intergenerational tragedies of the Greek dramatist Sophocles, García Márquez began writing fiction, honing a signature blend of fantasy and reality that culminated in the 1967 masterpiece One Hundred Years of Solitude. This sweeping epic became an instant classic and set the stage for more bestselling novels, including Love in the Time of Cholera, Love and Other Demons, and Memories of My Melancholy Whores. In addition, he has completed the first volume of a shelf-bending memoir, and his journalism and nonfiction essays have been collected into several anthologies.

In 1982, García Márquez was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. In his acceptance speech, he called for a "sweeping utopia of life, where no one will be able to decide for others how they die, where love will prove true and happiness be possible, and where the races condemned to one hundred years of solitude will have, at last and forever, a second opportunity on earth." Few writers have pursued that utopia with more passion and vigor than this towering 20th-century novelist.

Extras
• Gabriel José García Márquez' affectionate nickname is Gabo.

• García Márquez' first two novellas were completed long before their actual release dates, but might not have been published if it weren't for his friends, who found the manuscripts in a desk drawer and a suitcase, and sent them in for publication. (Bio from Barnes and Noble.)



Book Reviews 
This book is the granddaddy of magical realism. Written less than 40 years ago, it was recognized immediately as a classic, one of the great works of all time. So buckle your seat belts—because you're in for a ride. Marquez has created an epic.... Read more
A LitLovers LitPick (Feb. '08)


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....Mr. García Márquez has done nothing less than to create in the reader a sense of all that is profound, meaningful, and meaningless in life."
William Kennedy - New York Times Book Review


It is not easy to describe the techniques and themes of the book without making it sound absurdly complicated, labored and almost impossible to read. In fact, it is none of these things. Though concocted of quirks, ancient mysteries, family secrets and peculiar contradictions, it makes sense and gives pleasure in dozens of immediate ways.
Robert Kiely - New York Times


The fecund, savage, irresistable...you have the sense of living, along with the Buendias (and the rest), in them, through them and in spite of them, and all their loves, madnesses and wars, their alliances, compromises, dreams and deaths...the characters rear up large and rippling with life against the green texture of nature itself.
Paul West - Bookworld



Discussion Questions 
1. What kinds of solitude occur in the novel (for example, solitude of pride, grief, power, love, or death), and with whom are they associated? What circumstances produce them? What similarities and differences are there among the various kinds of solitude?

2. What are the purposes and effects of the story's fantastic and magical elements? How does the fantastic operate in the characters' everyday lives and personalities? How is the magical interwoven with elements drawn from history, myth, and politics?

3. Why does Garcia Marquez make repeated use of the "Many years later" formula? In what ways does this establish a continuity among past, present, and future? What expectations does it provoke? How do linear time and cyclical time function in the novel?

4. To what extent is Macondo's founding, long isolation, and increasing links with the outside world an exodus from guilt and corruption to new life and innocence and, then, a reverse journey from innocence to decadence?

5. What varieties of love occur in the novel? Does any kind of love transcend or transform the ravages of everyday life, politics and warfare, history, and time itself?

5. What is the progression of visitors and newcomers to Macondo, beginning with the gypsies? How does each new individual and group affect the Buendias, the town, and the story?

6. What is the importance of the various inventions, gadgets, and technological wonders introduced into Macondo over the years? Is the sequence in which they are introduced significant?

7. What is Melquiades's role and that of his innovations, explorations, and parchments? What is the significance of the "fact" that Melquiades "really had been through death, but he had returned because he could not bear the solitude"? Who else returns, and why?

8. When and how do politics enter the life of Macondo? With what short-term and long-term consequences? Do the social-political aspects of life in Macondo over the years parallel actual events and trends?

9. What types of women (from Ursula and Pilar to Meme and Amaranta Ursula) and what types of men (from Jose Arcadio to Aureliano Babilonia) are distinguishable? What characteristics do the men share? What characteristics do the women share?

10. What dreams, prophecies, and premonitions occur in the novel? With which specific characters and events are they associated, and what is their purpose?

11. When, how, and in what guises does death enter Macondo? With what consequences?

12. On the first page we are told that "The world was so recent that many things lacked names." What is the importance of names and of naming (of people, things, and events) in the novel?

12. How do geography and topography — mountains, swamps, river, sea, etc. — affect Macondo's history, its citizens' lives, and the novel's progression?

14. What aspects of the Buendia family dynamics are specific to Macondo? Which are reflective of family life everywhere and at any time? How do they relate to your experience and understanding of family life?

15. How does Garcia Marquez handle the issue and incidence of incest and its association with violence beginning with Jose Arcadio and Ursula's marriage and the shooting of Prudencio Aguilar? Is the sixth-generation incest of Aureliano Babilonia and Amaranta Ursula inevitable?
(Questions issued by publishers.)

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