Saturday, July 17, 2010

One Hundred Years of Solitude Post 1:

Today is the first post for the read-along of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude. I was really excited to see that this novel won the poll, since it has been a book that I have long been curious about. I have also been a little curious about the author and since I have always been wary of new authors, this was a book and author who has lingered in limbo for some time.

I think I need to be a braver reader. I have found that diving into new books and new authors has opened a lot of doors for myself, especially when it comes to classics. So often we regard classics as these massive tomes of wordy prose that some old fat man wrote 200 years ago. That is not always the case.

In this novel, I found beautiful writing and a story that has truly captured me not only for the power of its voice, but because of the way in which it is told.

At first, I thought I had picked up a faulty copy. After all, I picked up my edition at my library's sale back in May (one of the few books left on the tables) and perhaps someone had cut it up and inserted random sections. However, I realized that was idiotic and I simply let the story flow, much in the same way as I do when I read Virginia Woolf.

The novel is told in magical realism, which is basically the style of adding magical elements to a realistic story. The magical elements seem to flow right in with the realistic and add to the overall feel and flair of the writing. I admit that it is hard to get used to, but Marquez blends the right amount of magic in with the world he has created.

In this first half of the novel (I finished on page 218 in my edition), we meet the Buendia family, one of the founding families of Macondo, a small village in Colombia. Throughout this first part of the narrative, we learn about the beginning of the village and the men and women who founded it. All of the story is told from the perspectives of the Buendias and they center the novel as the village grows and changes throughout the years. We meet the family and as they grow, we grow with them.

I did find the names confusing. The father's name is Jose Arcadio Bunedia and his wife is Ursula. You have their two sons: Jose Arcadio and Aureliano, and their daughter, Amaranta. They also marry and have children, who, among others have the names of: Remedios, Arcadio, Aureliano Jose, Jose Arcadio Segundo, Aureliano Segundo, Amaranta Ursula, and so on.

The names are confusing. The continuous use of the same family names made this harder to keep track of that Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov (that should say something!). But I found that the novel spoke the strength of the family by the repetition and adds to the mystical qualities. You are never sure of the ghosts of the past have moved on or if the namesakes have truly passed on. Instead, the reader is left wondering if the dead are influencing the living and those who carry on their name.

We also see the small settlement change in this first section. Plague comes, as well as gypsies. Knowledge spreads, as does violence. Romance captures the young and insanity threatens the old. The realism flows in and out of this magical place, a place where no one died of natural causes for years and where the outside world had little influence.

It is a beautiful world and I love the grandeur of Marquez's words as he describes the way the world changes even the smallest things, and how one family can impact the course of events. Of course, I am not finished yet as I still have 200 pages to go, but I am looking forward to seeing how Marquez ends the tale of Macondo and that of the Buendia family.

Make sure you leave a link to your post in your comment so I can provide a way for participants and other interested parties a way of seeing your own thoughts!


  1. I remember loving this book. Enjoy :)

  2. I loved this book! I hope you enjoy it!

  3. It's really difficult to discuss because there is so much in it. I agree those names are very confusing.

    I haven't done well so far - real life has got in the way and it's a bit frustrating. While I recognise how unique this book is I still am not really connecting so, sorry, haven't got much to offer.

  4. i'll post my comments of the whole book on the 31st as i couldn't read it to finish a book that was lent to me and i had to give it back as soon as i could, so, i'll read the whole book before starting college in august (i've got lots of books i want to read before i start college, i can't wait for it!)

  5. It's delightful to read about you discovering Marquez! He's one of my favourites, so this brought a smile to my face. :)

  6. I'm definitely intrigued by this story. It was mentioned in one of my Spanish classes, and I always meant to read it but haven't gotten around to it.

  7. Hi Allie,
    I read this book while I was on vacation this past week (I didn't originally sign up for the read-along because I wasn't sure I'd have time to get to it this month and didn't want to be such a lagged- as I was with Gulliver's Travels).

    Anyway, I enjoyed your comments and also found that the similarity of the names and the blending of ghosts with real people caused the book to border on the "incomprehensible" to me. I made it through it though and will write a post on my impressions on the 31st.

    I see you are doing The Tempest next month.... I've read that before but wouldn't mind revisiting it.