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Chronicle of a death foretold
April 17, 2014 1:41 PM   Subscribe

Novelist Gabriel García Márquez has died at the age of 87. A giant of Latin American literature, he had struggled with lymphatic cancer and likely dementia (previously) in his latter years. To honor his memory, The Paris Review has reposted their interview with García Márquez from 1981, the year before he won the Nobel Prize for Literature.
posted by Cash4Lead (121 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
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One of my favorite authors. I've loved everything I've read by him.
posted by alligatorman at 1:43 PM on April 17 [3 favorites]


This makes me feel sad and wistful. Now who will take us to discover ice?
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 1:44 PM on April 17 [11 favorites]


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posted by ducky l'orange at 1:46 PM on April 17


Cease, cows. Life is short.
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posted by gauche at 1:47 PM on April 17


Yellow butterflies...
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posted by lord_wolf at 1:48 PM on April 17


100 Years of Solitude was on the syllabus of a science fiction class I took in college. It was my first exposure to magic realism and it changed the way I view literature. I discovered Love and Rockets right after and became obsessed with that, which doesn't really explain why I've never read another book by Márquez. I'm long overdue to read Love In A Time of Cholera so now is as good a time as any to dive into it.

I mourn the loss to the world, but celebrate a remarkable life.
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:49 PM on April 17 [2 favorites]


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posted by divabat at 1:49 PM on April 17


Love in the Time of Cholera is the only one of his books I've read, but it was both fantastic and not really what I expected. I should read some more.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:51 PM on April 17 [1 favorite]


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posted by shakespeherian at 1:52 PM on April 17


Sometimes in discussing non-English literature, there are warnings to beware of poor translations. Is that an issue with Márquez?
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posted by msali at 1:55 PM on April 17


“No medicine cures what happiness cannot.”
posted by joinks at 1:56 PM on April 17 [1 favorite]


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Thank you for showing us how modern literature can still aspire for greatness, wonder, and magic.
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posted by So You're Saying These Are Pants? at 1:58 PM on April 17


A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings
"He's an angel," she told them. "He must have been coming for the child, but the poor fellow is so old that the rain knocked him down."

On the following day everyone knew that a flesh-and-blood angel was held captive in Pelayo's house. Against the judgment of the wise neighbor woman, for whom angels in those times were the fugitive survivors of a spiritual conspiracy, they did not have the heart to club him to death. Pelayo watched over him all afternoon from the kitchen, armed with his bailiff's club, and before going to bed he dragged him out of the mud and locked him up with the hens in the wire chicken coop. In the middle of the night, when the rain stopped, Pelayo and Elisenda were still killing crabs. A short time afterward the child woke up without a fever and with a desire to eat. Then they felt magnanimous and decided to put the angel on a raft with fresh water and provisions for three days and leave him to his fate on the high seas. But when they went out into the courtyard with the first light of dawn, they found the whole neighborhood in front of the chicken coop having fun with the angel, without the slightest reverence, tossing him things to eat through the openings in the wire as if weren't a supernatural creature but a circus animal.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:58 PM on April 17 [6 favorites]


For a student-designed English class in high school, we chose 100 Years of Solitude for our Latin American lit portion. When we ran out of class time to discuss and dissect and read aloud, we would call each other up after school, we would read bits to each other during lunch. Just with that one book he gave us so much.

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posted by rtha at 2:02 PM on April 17 [7 favorites]


"To him she seemed so beautiful, so seductive, so different from ordinary people, that he could not understand why no one was as disturbed as he by the clicking of her heels on the paving stones, why no one else's heart was wild with the breeze stirred by the sighs of her veils, why everyone did not go mad with the movements of her braid, the flight of her hands, the gold of her laughter. He had not missed a single one of her gestures, not one of the indications of her character, but he did not dare approach her for fear of destroying the spell." ~ Love in the Time of Cholera.

Such a deep, passionate and altogether wonderful writer.

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posted by Celsius1414 at 2:11 PM on April 17 [2 favorites]


"A person doesn't die when he should but when he can."—Col. Aureliano Buendía, One Hundred Years of Solitude

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posted by Doktor Zed at 2:12 PM on April 17 [3 favorites]


Sometimes in discussing non-English literature, there are warnings to beware of poor translations. Is that an issue with Márquez?

iirc he actually preferred the famous Gregory Rabassa translation of 100 Years of Solitude to his own Spanish version
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 2:13 PM on April 17 [6 favorites]


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posted by Bromius at 2:16 PM on April 17


But they also knew that everything would be different from then on, that their houses would have wider doors, higher ceilings, and stronger floors so that Esteban's memory could go everywhere without bumping into beams and so that no one in the future would dare whisper the big boob finally died, too bad, the handsome fool has finally died, because they were going to paint their house fronts gay colors to make Esteban's memory eternal and they were going to break their backs digging for springs among the stones and planting flowers on the cliffs so that in future years at dawn the passengers on great liners would awaken, suffocated by the smell of gardens on the high seas, and the captain would have to come down from the bridge in his dress uniform, with his astrolabe, his pole star, and his row of war medals and, pointing to the promontory of roses on the horizon, he would say in fourteen languages, look there, where the wind is so peaceful now that it's gone to sleep beneath the beds, over there, where the sun's so bright that the sunflowers don't know which way to turn, yes, over there, that's Esteban's village. The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World

It's funny to think about now (I actually had forgotten until just a few minutes ago), but it was Garcia Marquez and a handful of other journalists-turned-novelists (their lives as much as their work) who influenced me, at age 20 or so, to decide that I would have to have some adventures in life before I wrote a great novel. I switched my major to journalism, interviewed some people, wrote some stories, moved to another country, and seven years later still haven't written much of anything, but my life is infinitely richer than it might otherwise have been.
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posted by Iridic at 2:22 PM on April 17


The only full book of his I've read is "News of a Kidnapping," which is one of the single best true crime books ever written. Sorry to see him go.

Anyone know who the contenders for the next Pope of Latin American Letters are?
posted by klangklangston at 2:22 PM on April 17 [1 favorite]


Ça y est.
posted by No Robots at 2:27 PM on April 17 [1 favorite]


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posted by iamck at 2:31 PM on April 17


RusticEtruscan, I recall hearing the same about Marquez preferring the translation, but every time I found myself saying it to someone it sounded too absurd to be true, and I started to doubt my memory, or wonder if I had imagined it. Kinda appropriate.
posted by benito.strauss at 2:31 PM on April 17 [1 favorite]


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I frequently think of the first sentence of One Hundred Years of Solitude ("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.") as one of the most gripping sentences I've ever read, and then it's an amazing path to the very last sentence.
posted by elmer benson at 2:33 PM on April 17 [12 favorites]


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posted by kewb at 2:33 PM on April 17


The world was so recent that many things lacked names, and in order to indicate them it was necessary to point.

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posted by ubiquity at 2:35 PM on April 17 [4 favorites]


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So many .

We read Chronicle of a Death Foretold in high school, and I was stunned and thrilled by what he'd written. It felt forbidden somehow. I took to reading a different GGM every winter.
posted by mochapickle at 2:36 PM on April 17


When Remedios the Beauty goes straight up to heaven like Elijah it is the most amazing scene in any book I ever read up to that point. Marquez was an astonishing writer.

(In other obituary master news Snow Leopard and In the Spirit of Crazy Horse are still temporarily out of stock at Amazon.)
posted by bukvich at 2:37 PM on April 17 [3 favorites]


“What did you expect?” he murmured. “Time passes.”

“That’s how it goes,” Úrsula said, “but not so much.”
posted by bgrebs at 2:41 PM on April 17 [3 favorites]


This novel is also revolutionary in daring to suggest that vows of love made under a presumption of immortality -- youthful idiocy, to some -- may yet be honored, much later in life when we ought to know better, in the face of the undeniable. This is, effectively, to assert the resurrection of the body, today as throughout history an unavoidably revolutionary idea. Through the ever-subversive medium of fiction, García Márquez shows us how it could all plausibly come about, even -- wild hope -- for somebody out here, outside a book, even as inevitably beaten at, bought and resold as we all must have become if only through years of simple residence in the injuring and corruptive world.

from Thomas Pynchon's NYT review of Love in the Time of Cholera (April 10, 1988)
posted by chavenet at 2:43 PM on April 17 [4 favorites]


B-but my favorite is still El general en su laberinto:

“He was shaken by the overwhelming revelation that the headlong race between his misfortunes ad his dreams was at that moment reaching the finish line. The rest was darkness, 'Damn it,' he sighed. 'How will I ever get out of this labyrinth!”
posted by chavenet at 2:46 PM on April 17


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posted by thivaia at 2:46 PM on April 17


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One Hundred Years of Solitude
is one of those books I read in undergraduate that has stayed with me long after. I've read other Marquez and loved it, but nothing will ever compare with the first deep swallow of that book.
posted by WidgetAlley at 2:48 PM on April 17 [1 favorite]


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posted by seyirci at 2:50 PM on April 17


A giant amongst 20th century authors. Everyone should read One Hundred Years of Solitude, everyone.



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posted by OHenryPacey at 2:50 PM on April 17 [1 favorite]


Too bad OHYoS isn't available on Kindle (I'm about to move internationally soon, so the less things I have the better). :(
posted by divabat at 2:52 PM on April 17


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posted by sixo33 at 3:05 PM on April 17


This man's words knocked me on my ass. Love in the Time of Cholera, 100 Years of Solitude. Two of the best books in history. In history.

A giant is right.
posted by Trochanter at 3:23 PM on April 17 [1 favorite]


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posted by TwoStride at 3:28 PM on April 17


Him, Tolstoy, Shakespeare. I put him right up there.
posted by Trochanter at 3:28 PM on April 17


...Instead of going to the chestnut tree, Colonel Aureliano Buendia also went to the street door and mingled with the bystanders who were watching the parade. He saw a woman dressed in gold sitting on the head of an elephant. He saw a sad dromedary. He saw a bear dressed like a Dutch girl keeping time to the music with a soup spoon and a pan. He saw the clowns doing cartwheels at the end of the parade and once more he saw the face of his miserable solitude when everything had passed by and there was nothing but the bright expanse of the street and the air full of flying ants with a few onlookers peering into the precipices of uncertainty. Then he went to the chestnut tree, thinking about the circus, and while he urinated he tried to keep on thinking about the circus, but he could no longer find the memory. He pulled his head in between his shoulders like a baby chick and remained motionless with his forehead against the trunk of the chestnut tree. The family did not find him until the following day at eleven o’clock in the morning when Santa Sofia de la Piedad went to throw out the garbage in back and her attention was attracted by the descending vultures.
posted by growabrain at 3:37 PM on April 17 [1 favorite]


The first time I finished reading 'A Hundred Years of Solitude' I cried because I knew I would never read anything more beautiful. I was 16 then, I'm 30 now, and I still haven't found anything that has affected me more. So thank you and goodbye, Gabo.
posted by Partario at 3:52 PM on April 17 [4 favorites]


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posted by Beardman at 3:52 PM on April 17


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Somewhere in my sister's house lies a well worn copy of Solitude translated into the Tamil language. My grandfather first bought the book in the mid 70s, and later on the book passed down to my mother and then to us. All of us loved the story, needless to say.

I really should read it in English sometime, judging by the excerpts pasted here and elsewhere.
posted by all the versus at 3:55 PM on April 17


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posted by kneecapped at 3:56 PM on April 17


"Love in the Time of Cholera" although not my favorite book of his does contain my favorite quote, and one of the few passages in any book that has made me tear up:

Only god knows how much I love you

posted by artichoke_enthusiast at 3:56 PM on April 17 [1 favorite]


Its been a while since the death of someone I didn't know affected me so deeply....this guy definitely had an impact in so many aspects of my life. From my love of travel, believing in magic and just seeing the beauty of everything around me...

How can one single person touch so many lives?

Rest in Peace Gabo.

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posted by The1andonly at 4:29 PM on April 17 [1 favorite]


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posted by gingerbeer at 4:32 PM on April 17


It has been 20 years since I read Chronicle of a Death Foretold and the mood and language remain with me, as if I just put the story down minutes ago.

As stated above, he was one of the giants.

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posted by nobody at 4:42 PM on April 17


Love his face. Those eyes seem full of love and joie de vivre.

Garcia Marquez's writing was constantly informed by his leftist political views, themselves forged in large part by a 1928 military massacre near Aracataca of banana workers striking against the United Fruit Company, which later became Chiquita. (That fruit company.)

Condolences to his wife, Mercedes, to his sons, Rodrigo, Gonzalo, to his friends, family and to all his readers.

RIP Gabriel Garcia Marquez. He had a long, illustrious and very well loved life, packed full of accomplishing, courage, truth sharing, wise activism and humanity. A life very well lived.
posted by nickyskye at 4:50 PM on April 17 [6 favorites]


My friend Rosalie, who needed to read the way the rest of us need to breathe, never read the same book twice. Except One Hundred Years of Solitude.

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posted by Kinbote at 4:51 PM on April 17 [4 favorites]


I hope it's raining little yellow flowers somewhere.

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posted by LMGM at 4:57 PM on April 17 [1 favorite]


I think all I've read by him are "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings" and Love in the Time of Cholera, and that's a shame. It's like reading beauty. Time to break out my copy of Solitude.

Thank you, Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
posted by m0nm0n at 5:04 PM on April 17 [1 favorite]


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posted by Knappster at 5:07 PM on April 17


I've been reading Living to Tell the Tale. It's a yarn that unwinds.
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posted by Anitanola at 5:23 PM on April 17


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I just finished re-reading Love in the Time of Cholera last week, around the time I heard he was doing poorly. It made the whole experience so damn bittersweet, reading through his achingly lovely prose, knowing that he might not pull through. Thank you and farewell, Gabo.
posted by Diagonalize at 5:26 PM on April 17


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posted by schmod at 5:31 PM on April 17


I read One Hundred Years of Solitude for the first time when I was 16--not quite half my life ago, now--and it's still right next to my heart. Thank you, Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
posted by jameaterblues at 5:33 PM on April 17 [1 favorite]


Before reaching the final line, however, he had already understood that he would never leave that room, for it was foreseen that the city of mirrors (or mirages) would be wiped out by the wind and exiled from the memory of men at the precise moment when Aureliano Babilonia would finish deciphering the parchments, and that everything written on them was unrepeatable since time immemorial and forever more, because races condemned to one hundred years of solitude did not have a second opportunity on earth.

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RIP
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posted by oulipian at 5:50 PM on April 17


This is a brilliant short story he wrote if you'd like a taste. It comes in at just under 1000 words in English.

I read One Hundred Years of Solitude in grade 12 and it helped sway me toward pursuing an English degree in university. I really need to re-read it.

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posted by findango at 7:31 PM on April 17


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I was skimming through my copy of One Hundred Years of Solitude to post a relevant quote here or something, and I caught myself reading entire chapters for a couple of hours now.
posted by lbebber at 7:34 PM on April 17 [6 favorites]


He makes me out to be a bit of a dick, but still, will be missed.
posted by juv3nal at 7:34 PM on April 17


Once I tried to find a quote of One Hundred Years of Solitude for someone, and it was impossible. I couldn't decide on one excerpt.

I shall always remember how Aureliano Buendia sounded in my head.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 7:55 PM on April 17


Love in the Time of Cholera was the first thing I ever read that made me say out loud as I was reading it, "This is so beautiful."

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posted by pitrified at 8:13 PM on April 17 [1 favorite]


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posted by reductiondesign at 8:45 PM on April 17


My Gabriel Garcia Marquez story:

When I was in my mid-20s, I once took time spend a few months in Australia. I won't share the details of what went into that decision, but suffice to say I left school without a degree and had no clue what I was going to to do with my life. I just knew I was just eager to experience something remotely resembling "real life."

While I lived for most of that trip in Melbourne, I also spent a few weeks in a place called Goolengook. This is the Australian rainforest, or "the bush" as they call it. I hitched a ride with some hippies who were out to protest logging and deforestation. Since I could easily get deported for protesting, I bartered for my meals and a place to stay Basically, I washed dishes in exchange for not being required to chain myself to a tree.

During the day, I had many hours to myself. After hiking a few clicks, I'd usually find myself a shady spot and pull out one of the two books I had brought with me: "Love in the Time of Cholera" and "One Hundred Years of Solitude" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

To say these books had a profound effect on me would be a massive understatement. The effects of Mr. Marquez's "magical realism" in combination with the otherworldly rainforest I inhabited were intoxicating. I reread both books twice during my stay, and once I was finished with that, I knew it was time to go home. Those books stole into my heart and left me with the realization that "real life" was what you made it. One of the enduring lessons I learned from Mr. Marquez was that I didn't need to travel to the end of the world to experience it.

Vaya con dios, compañero. And thank you.
posted by zooropa at 10:01 PM on April 17 [3 favorites]


One Hundred Years of Solitude was absolutely devastating to my 23 year old self, and has left a long, lingering, beautiful aftertaste I have never quite gotten rid of.
Fortunately.
But, I would also like to praise The Autumn of the Patriarch which never seems to be mentioned much when talk of Marquez comes up.
Absolutely brilliant, but in a much different way than we usually associate with Marquez.

So

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posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 12:31 AM on April 18


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posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 12:48 AM on April 18


As usual in these matters, UK's Daily Telegraph has a very comprehensive obit
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posted by Sophie1 at 7:14 AM on April 18


A giant. Gracias, señor.
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posted by koucha at 8:21 AM on April 18


I really, really loved his short stories. Los funerales de la Mamá Grande is a personal favorite.

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posted by Night_owl at 9:38 AM on April 18


Love in the Time of Cholera was the first thing I ever read that made me say out loud as I was reading it, "This is so beautiful."

This. In the first, I don't know, 20 pages.
posted by OHSnap at 11:34 AM on April 18


I just checked my library to see which translation I read of Love in the Time of Cholera, and precisely half of Cincinnati's 28 copies have been checked out just today, with another dozen holds.

Good. Everyone should read it.
posted by OHSnap at 11:38 AM on April 18


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posted by Paris Elk at 2:58 PM on April 18


Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Fidel Castro: A complex and nuanced comraderie. The Nobel laureate's friendship with the Cuban revolutionary, to some, was the famed novelist's one glaring flaw
posted by homunculus at 12:06 PM on April 20


Salman Rushdie on Gabriel García Márquez: 'His world was mine'. Salman Rushdie recalls how he fell in love with the novels of the late Gabriel García Márquez
posted by homunculus at 4:27 PM on April 27


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