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  • One day in 1965, while driving to Acapulco for a vacation with his family,

  • Colombian journalist Gabriel García Márquez abruptly turned his car around,

  • asked his wife to take care of the family's finances for the coming months,

  • and returned home.

  • The beginning of a new book had suddenly come to him:

  • 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.”

  • Over the next eighteen months,

  • those words would blossom into One Hundred Years of Solitude.

  • A novel that would go on to bring Latin American literature

  • to the forefront of the global imagination,

  • earning García Márquez the 1982 Nobel Prize for Literature.

  • What makes One Hundred Years of Solitude so remarkable?

  • The novel chronicles the fortunes and misfortunes

  • of the Buendía family over seven generations.

  • With its lush, detailed sentences,

  • large cast of characters,

  • and tangled narrative,

  • One Hundred Years of Solitude is not an easy book to read.

  • But it's a deeply rewarding one,

  • with an epic assortment of intense romances,

  • civil war,

  • political intrigue,

  • globe-trotting adventurers,

  • and more characters named Aureliano than you'd think possible.

  • Yet this is no mere historical drama.

  • One Hundred Years of Solitude is one of the most famous examples

  • of a literary genre known as magical realism.

  • Here, supernatural events or abilities

  • are described in a realistic and matter-of-fact tone,

  • while the real events of human life and history

  • reveal themselves to be full of fantastical absurdity.

  • Surreal phenomena within the fictional village of Macondo

  • intertwine seamlessly with events taking place in the real country of Colombia.

  • The settlement begins in a mythical state of isolation,

  • but is gradually exposed to the outside world,

  • facing multiple calamities along the way.

  • As years pass, characters grow old and die,

  • only to return as ghosts,

  • or to be seemingly reincarnated in the next generation.

  • When the American fruit company comes to town,

  • so does a romantic mechanic who is always followed by yellow butterflies.

  • A young woman up and floats away.

  • Although the novel moves forward through subsequent generations,

  • time moves in an almost cyclical manner.

  • Many characters have similar names and features to their forebears,

  • whose mistakes they often repeat.

  • Strange prophecies and visits from mysterious gypsies

  • give way to the skirmishes and firing squads of repeated civil wars.

  • An American fruit company opens a plantation near the village

  • and ends up massacring thousands of striking workers,

  • mirroring the real-life 'Banana Massacre' of 1928.

  • Combined with the novel's magical realism,

  • this produces a sense of history as a downward spiral

  • the characters seem powerless to escape.

  • Beneath the magic is a story about the pattern of Colombian

  • and Latin American history from colonial times onward.

  • This is a history that the author experienced firsthand.

  • Gabriel García Márquez grew up in a Colombia torn apart by civil conflict

  • between its Conservative and Liberal political parties.

  • He also lived in an autocratic Mexico

  • and covered the 1958 Venezuelan coup d'état as a journalist.

  • But perhaps his biggest influences were his maternal grandparents.

  • Nicolás Ricardorquez was a decorated veteran of the Thousand Days War

  • whose accounts of the rebellion against Colombia's conservative government

  • led Gabriel García Márquez to a socialist outlook.

  • Meanwhile, Doña Tranquilina Iguarán Cotes' omnipresent superstition

  • became the foundation of One Hundred Years of Solitude's style.

  • Their small house in Aracataca where the author spent his childhood

  • formed the main inspiration for Macondo.

  • With One Hundred Years of Solitude,

  • Gabriel García Márquez found a unique way

  • to capture the unique history of Latin America.

  • He was able to depict the strange reality of living in a post-colonial society,

  • forced to relive the tragedies of the past.

  • In spite of all this fatalism, the novel still holds hope.

  • At his Nobel Lecture,

  • García Marquez reflected on Latin America's long history

  • of civil strife and rampant iniquity.

  • Yet he ended the speech by affirming the possibility of building a better world,

  • to quote, “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 chance on earth."

One day in 1965, while driving to Acapulco for a vacation with his family,

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B2 US TED-Ed solitude gabriel colombia latin civil

Why should you read "One Hundred Years of Solitude"? - Francisco Diez-Buzo

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    April Lu posted on 2018/09/20
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