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Cultural Cannibal: The journalism of Gabriel García Márquez
July 5, 2014 8:26 AM   Subscribe

“Would I want to read the young García Márquez’s journalism if it didn’t happen to be written by García Márquez?” I asked myself while speedwalking toward Bocars Libros in the Barracas neighborhood of Buenos Aires, and again while shelling out 150 pesos for the three-volume Obra periodística with an introduction by Jacques Gilard. Back home, reading his work, my anxiety was quickly dispelled. Gabriel García Marquez (1927–2014) is known in the English-speaking world for his lyrical, densely descriptive novels, but as a journalist he was acerbically funny, charming, and slightly bizarre. The young García Márquez devoured what surrounded him. Everything was raw material for his newspaper columns—film adaptations of Faulkner, nudism, dancing bears, the letter X, a woman he saw in an ice cream parlor who may have been the “ugliest I’ve ever seen in my life, or, on the contrary, the most disconcertingly beautiful.”

At twenty-one, he joined El Universal in Cartagena, and at twenty-three began writing an impressionistic column called “The Giraffe” for El Heraldo in Barranquilla under the pseudonym Septimus. At 25 he moved to Bogotá and started writing for El Espectador, mostly cinema reviews but also long pieces of in-depth reportage. The three volumes of the Obra periodística cover García Márquez’s productive early working years, from 1948 to 1960. But this is far from a complete collection. G.G.M., as he would begin to sign his pieces, continued to write for newspapers until his death earlier this year, and much of his later work is incompletely catalogued, with an overlap and omission of years. In English his complete journalistic work is not on the radar.
posted by whyareyouatriangle (7 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
Thanks, an interesting read. I like this bit from his conclusion: "Why resort to easy dismissals when there are other ways to read García Márquez’s work with fresh eyes?" (It could be slightly altered and used as a reminder for MeFi commenters.) But I found this odd:
García Márquez’s ideal films—unlike those of Italy, which in an irritable moment he noted has the “worst cinema in the world”—would explore universal themes, while embedding them in realistic depictions of national social situations and landscapes.
I thought that's what postwar Italian cinema was all about!
posted by languagehat at 8:54 AM on July 5


Only the neorealism.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:18 PM on July 5


No One Writes Letters to the Editor.
posted by Pudhoho at 1:53 PM on July 5


No One Writes Letters to the Editor

No One Writes to the Journal, surely.
posted by oulipian at 1:56 PM on July 5 [1 favorite]


I thought that's what postwar Italian cinema was all about!
Only the neorealism.


Just timing. Classic serious neorealism was out of fashion in Italy by the late 1950's, and mostly replaced by films with a lighter, more casual tone, which is probably what he was carping about.

There's some fun descriptions of Marquez's newspaper career in his swell memoir, Living to Tell the Tale. What comes most to mind is: generally having almost no money and never enough sleep, but also having lots of fun and interesting colleagues.
posted by ovvl at 5:52 PM on July 5


> Just timing. Classic serious neorealism was out of fashion in Italy by the late 1950's, and mostly replaced by films with a lighter, more casual tone, which is probably what he was carping about.

Yeah, I'm sure you're right. It was just funny to read, since cinemaphiles (in the US anyway) pretty much equate postwar Italian cinema with neorealism, forgetting the more popular fluff.
posted by languagehat at 8:29 AM on July 6


Gabriel García Márquez—a Rebel Against Form, an Artist Against the Forces of Oblivion - "He taught us how to live with loss, and he told us, over and over again, that other utopias are possible."
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:15 PM on July 7


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