As most literary aficionados will attest, “100 Years of Solitude” was one of those books that pulled you into its orbit. It’s a lengthy novel, filled with dozens of characters with extremely long names (and even longer family lineages) which would make the casual reader want to reach for something easier to follow. However, the critical praise and Gabriel García Márquez’s writing style which combined his unique prose with what is called, “magical realism” eventually pulled even the most casual reader into its pages.
In his novels and stories, storms rage for years, flowers drift from the skies, tyrants survive for centuries, priests levitate and corpses fail to decompose. And, more plausibly, lovers rekindle their passion after a half-century apart.
Magical realism, he said, sprang from Latin America’s history of vicious dictators and romantic revolutionaries, of long years of hunger, illness and violence. In accepting his Nobel, Mr. García Márquez said: “Poets and beggars, musicians and prophets, warriors and scoundrels, all creatures of that unbridled reality, we have had to ask but little of imagination. For our crucial problem has been a lack of conventional means to render our lives believable.”
“One Hundred Years of Solitude” would sell tens of millions of copies. The Chilean poet Pablo Neruda called it “the greatest revelation in the Spanish language since ‘Don Quixote.’ ” The novelist William Kennedy hailed it as “the first piece of literature since the Book of Genesis that should be required reading for the entire human race.”
Mr. García Márquez was rattled by the praise, however. He grew to hate “One Hundred Years of Solitude,” he said in interviews, because he feared his subsequent work would not measure up to it in readers’ eyes. While “100 Years of Solitude” is perhaps Gabriel García Márquez’s most famous work (followed closely by “Love in the Time of Cholera”), his other novels have achieved just as much critical acclaim. Almost all of his 15 other novels and short-story collections were lauded by critics and devoured by readers, cementing Mr. Marquez as one of the greatest novelists of the 20th century.
Mr. García Márquez, who received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982, wrote fiction rooted in a mythical Latin American landscape of his own creation, but his appeal was universal. His books were translated into dozens of languages. He was among a select roster of canonical writers — Dickens, Tolstoy and Hemingway among them — who were embraced both by critics and by a mass audience.
“Each new work of his is received by expectant critics and readers as an event of world importance,” the Swedish Academy of Letters said in awarding him the Nobel.
There won’t be anymore important works by Gabriel García Márquez, as this week he passed away at his home in Mexico City. He was 87. Cristóbal Pera, his former editor at Random House, confirmed the death. Mr. García Márquez learned he had lymphatic cancer in 1999, and a brother said in 2012 that he had developed senile dementia.
While the world will certainly mourn the passing of such a gifted writer, he leaves behind an amazing legacy that would make any author proud.
If you’ve never read anything by Gabriel García Márquez, you are certainly missing out. In celebration of his life, perhaps pick up a novel or short story of his if “100 Years of Solitude” is too dense for your liking, and give him a try. You will certainly not be disappointed.
Source: New York Times