50 años de "Cien años de soledad"
May 29, 2017 2:25 AM   Subscribe

May 30, 2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of One Hundred Years of Solitude, a work its author, Gabriel García Márquez, described as a “very long and very complex novel in which I have placed my best illusions.” García Márquez finished the novel in August 1966; his publisher, Editorial Sudamericana, printed its first run on May 30, 1967. The book went on to sell 50 million copies worldwide, becoming the most translated literary work in Spanish outside of Don Quixote....This digital collection, drawn from the Gabriel García Márquez papers at the Harry Ransom Center, documents the genesis of the novel from draft to literary classic

Gabriel García Márquez working on a draft of One Hundred Years of Solitude
First page of photocopied typescript with García Márquez’s signature

How One Hundred Years of Solitude Became a Classic [The Atlantic]
Can One Hundred Years of Solitude be read as more than just fantasy? [Grauniad]

In Spanish:
Los siete capítulos olvidados de ‘Cien años de soledad’ [El Pais]
'Cien años de soledad', un manual de la historia de Colombia [Semana]
'Cien años de soledad' cumple 50 años [Semana]
“Cien años de soledad” y memoria [El Espectador]

Previously: The Secret History of One Hundred Years of Solitude [Vanity Fair]

Bonus: THE HEART'S ETERNAL VOW by Thomas Pynchon (Review of Love in the Time of Cholera)

It would be presumptuous to speak of moving ''beyond'' ''One Hundred Years of Solitude'' but clearly Garcia Marquez has moved somewhere else, not least into deeper awareness of the ways in which, as Florentino comes to learn, ''nobody teaches life anything.''
posted by chavenet (24 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
Not long enough, though...
posted by Segundus at 4:39 AM on May 29, 2017 [2 favorites]

I earnestly, uncritically love this book. There was one two-year period in the early Aughts when I read it so many times I had to give away my copy to break the cycle.
posted by BS Artisan at 4:45 AM on May 29, 2017 [6 favorites]

I need to read it again now. It's so beautiful.
posted by louche mustachio at 5:16 AM on May 29, 2017 [2 favorites]

Misspelled and mis-named though I may be, I approve of this post.
posted by aureliobuendia at 5:58 AM on May 29, 2017 [8 favorites]

100 years of solitude,
100 years of solitude!
You take one down
Pass it around
99 years of solitude! [attribution: MST3K]
posted by ardgedee at 6:02 AM on May 29, 2017 [7 favorites]

This is the only novel I've read in both Spanish and English. I've read it at least a dozen times since high school, and each time I discover something new. Truly timeless and one of my favorites.
posted by Fuego at 6:37 AM on May 29, 2017 [5 favorites]

I really need to just pull the trigger and read this one. I really enjoyed Love in the Time of Cholera. Thanks for giving me an excuse.
posted by Seek at 7:26 AM on May 29, 2017

From the vanity fair article:

Gabo told Harvey Weinstein that he would grant him and Giuseppe Tornatore the rights, provided the movie was made his way. As Weinstein would recall: “We must film the entire book, but only release one chapter—two minutes long—each year, for one hundred years.”
posted by sammyo at 7:34 AM on May 29, 2017 [8 favorites]

Funnily enough, this is one novel about which I have no curiosity about how it came to be or the life of its manuscript after it left the author's hand. I don't want to hear any anecdotes about its reception or attempts to make it into a movie. I have the massive biography of Gabriel Garcia Marquez on my shelf, and I know I will never read it. To my mind, "One Hundred Years of Solitude" does not exist on the same plane as other literary productions. It floats out there alone, a solitary planet, filled with life and movement. The only book to be recommended unreservedly to absolutely anyone who can read.
posted by Modest House at 7:51 AM on May 29, 2017 [6 favorites]

After the election, this was the only book I could stomach reading. The book—with its gravity and scope; its humor; its crafted, effortless prose—was the only thing that could meaningfully hold my attention.

I may yet be alive to read it again in a civilized society 50 years from now when it turns 100. I hope I am. I hope it is. But even if by then we're living the road, a canticle for leibowitz, a handmaid's tale, or I'm reliving the bell jar, it's a book, a piece of art, I would flee the country with. It's a piece of art worthy of personal sacrifice to preserve. It's a piece of art that bouys you without being didactic or by turning away. It's a piece of art that shows no obligation to reality but manages to capture its essence. It's not my favorite book, but its probably better than my favorites and is one of the crown jewels of 20th century art.
posted by milarepa at 7:53 AM on May 29, 2017 [8 favorites]

My all time favorite book too, I read it a dozen times, in Hebrew, in English & in Danish.

I remember discovering the paperback when it was translated into Hebrew in 1968. At 15, I hiked with my friend Garry to the sea of Kineret. We camped out literally on the spot where Jesus was supposed to do his fish & bread magic trick. We slept in an abandoned Turkish stone building on the northern banks of the lake. And I could not stop reading this magical book.

I should pull out my old copy & give it another go, it's been some years. Thanks for reminding me about the anniversary.

Here is an illustration of my daughter reading the book (self-link) from her art project.
posted by growabrain at 10:05 AM on May 29, 2017 [3 favorites]

I listened to this book for the first time (and with skepticism) less than a year ago, and not only did it live up to the praise, but it singlehandedly punted me into the world of fiction after a decade-long leave of absense. Select passages are still swirling around in my mind.

Tangentially, I really enjoyed this DeviantArtist's take on several scenes in the book: http://misha-dragonov.deviantart.com/art/Queen-of-the-Carnival-217486687
posted by archagon at 11:08 AM on May 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

By the way, for people who've read it in both languages (Fuego), is much lost in the translation? I know the official English version was blessed by the author, but I'm still curious.
posted by archagon at 11:12 AM on May 29, 2017

I have read it in Spanish and English. Personally, I think the English translation is just brilliant. I don't know if it improves on the original, as Garcia Marquez generously claimed, but it certainly is faithful to it.

I have them both here in front of me and Rabassa's skillful translation surely deserves great credit in allowing non-Spanish speakers to almost directly access this work.
posted by vacapinta at 11:44 AM on May 29, 2017 [3 favorites]

A few reviewers on GoodReads refer to Solomon Gursky was Here (Mordecai Richler) as the Canadian '100 Years...', so in case some of you are interested...

Also, what struck me by that story most, for whatever reason, was that the original patriarch and matriarch, so powerful, capable, and respected in their youth (more so Úrsula Iguarán), were reduced to babbling burdens to their families, in their final years. It struck me as so sad, yet so 'obvious' - the whole idea of a 'legacy' completely worthless once you're dying or dead.
posted by bitteroldman at 1:00 PM on May 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

My favorite all time novel. The section where Remedios the Beauty floats away is one of the most gorgeous this I've ever read.
posted by Joey Michaels at 5:41 PM on May 29, 2017

When I was about 12, I remember my father rushing out onto our screen porch waving his new copy. "Listen to this!" he shouted, perplexing my mother and me, and started to read. "I think this is the single best first line of a novel I have ever read!" And with that Dad headed back to his reading chair.

He was right. Later I filched his copy and I still have it.
posted by carmicha at 6:06 PM on May 29, 2017 [2 favorites]

This is one of those books that I feel like I should read but can never bring myself to read. Mainly because I felt so burned by the movie Love in the Time of Cholera. I want my two hours back.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 7:19 PM on May 29, 2017

I still remember having to read this in photocopy as a poor freshman college student more than a decade ago. It was our assigned novel in English class, and I remember then how confused I was at trying to associate who was married to whom at any point.

I've never bought my own copy, though, which I should probably remedy at this point.
posted by FarOutFreak at 7:23 PM on May 29, 2017

I picked it up at random off a shelf one day, and it had me in it's clutches on a wild ride until it let me go at the end; dazed, tired, and out of breath. What an experience!
posted by nickggully at 7:55 PM on May 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

archagon, I agree with vacapinta, the English translation is faithful in capturing the tone and flavor of the original. I originally read it in Spanish in high school for a class and although I got most of it, there was a fair amount of running to the dictionary to translate. Reading it in English flowed much better for me but I was surprised at how much it didn't change anything about how I'd envisioned the events (which wasn't quite so for a lot of things that I read first in Spanish and then English). I should get another copy in Spanish and re-read it that way again. Perhaps there's a 50th anniversary edition out there.
posted by Fuego at 8:20 PM on May 29, 2017

Thinking about this a bit more, and without detracting at all from the translator, I think it is Garcia Marquez who is mainly responsible for the excellent translations. Let me explain.

The novel is not written in any distinctive Colombian Spanish and, controversially, you could argue the novel isn't written in Spanish at all. It is written in a universal language. There are no Spanish idioms or turns of phrase. The writing is straightforward and even the poetic language has a universality to it. So when he writes that the rocks are like "prehistoric eggs" he is not subtly referencing some spanish saying about rocks and eggs, for example. It is a comparison which transcends the language.

I am sure I am not saying anything new in pointing this out. Garcia Marquez was a journalist and so his prose is straightforward and journalistic; he is telling a story in a form that is accessible to all his readers. In this case, his readership is the world.

This prose style fits in perfectly with the themes of the book itself. Although Macondo and its inhabitants has a distinctive South American flavor, it is also a place that seems to exist on its own. The language and things reflects this too. We do get things that are imported from an outside world - portuguese sardines or new machines and inventions - but most other things exist within the self-contained world of Macondo.

So, all of this is to say, that Garcia Marquez wrote the novel in such a way that it already feels like a translation, even in Spanish. So it loses nothing as it is translated into other languages. Or to put it another way: If your goal is to learn Spanish to be able to read OHYoS in the original, you are wasting your time. Read Pedro Paramo instead. Or Bolaño's Savage Detectives. But Garcia Marquez (like Borges actually) is already writing in your language.
posted by vacapinta at 1:26 AM on May 30, 2017 [8 favorites]

I'll have to go back and try to make it through the novel again, it's been at least 10 years since I last tried. Sounds like it'd be worth my effort.

But! I have to say, I love the song of the same name by Terry Farmer, a local artist who I saw as the opener of a Gaelic Storm concert.

'He was buried in the spring, and married in the autumn,
he kept, inside a silver ring, a pill of poison if they caught him
with a knife fixed upon his fate, Peter calls him to the gate
He was buried in the spring.'

Which I love without knowing the novel very well, and I think those who love the novel would enjoy very much.

Having trouble finding a link to share, but the 'River Runs Free' album is still still available on CDBaby, and there is a small excerpt of this song you can listen to. Track 6.
posted by dreamling at 9:23 AM on May 30, 2017

Cien Años was one of the books I used to learn English, as I had read it many times in Spanish. I was very surprised by how faithful the Rabassa translation is - almost nothing is lost.
It is a beautiful book - truly one of the books everyone should read before they die.
posted by cobain_angel at 9:29 AM on May 30, 2017

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