Márquez G.G. (1967), One hundred years of Solitude, Athens: Α.Α. Livani
Márquez G.G. (1985) , Love in the time of cholera, Athens: Α.Α. Livani
Both translated by: Klaeti Sotiriadou Barajas
A couple of months ago I read Márquez for the first time, more specifically it was his novel “Chronicle of a death foretold”. I enjoyed it oh, so much, that it was my suggestion for cocooning cat’s list of our Greek bookish community’s 17 summer books. I liked it so much, that I couldn’t wait to find the time to read those two novels, because I wanted to completely devote myself to them and enjoy them while at home, in bed, during one of those crazy hot Athenian days.
I first read “One hundred years of solitude” for no apparent reason, since I had no idea what both books were about. It’s the story of the Buendía family, that begins with José Arcadio Buendía founding the community of Macondo, somewhere in the depths of the Latin American rainforests, and unfolds for one hundred years and seven generations. By telling us the story of the Buendía family, Márquez actually narrates the story of his country, Columbia, the story of the human kind.
The Buendías give only two names to their male offspring: Aurelianos are always reclusive and stubborn, while José Arcadios are curious and have an immense body strength. Even if the narration follows a linear progression of events (with a few time jumps here and there), in fact by repeating the names and their characteristics, the writer creates a (vicious) circle. A blend of realism and magic realism, history and fiction, reality and imagination, this novel proves that history does indeed repeat itself and even if many times we can’t prevent it from happening, quite as often its our own fault, for ignoring our past.
Having already understood what Márquez is capable of by reading a short novel of less than 150 pages, “One hundred years of solitude” was exactly what I expected from a 400-page-long novel to be. And then there was “Love in the time of cholera” which I knew that had been turned into a film and that, subconsciously, didn’t read first, because I found its title a little bit too dramatic.
It’s the story of Fermina Daza and the two men that she ever indulged herself with: her husband, famous doctor Juvenal Urbino, and her first love, Florentino Ariza. Although most of the themes examined are very interesting (e.g. the role of women, the social outrage against old age love, getting older and death), there was something missing, not so much from the book, rather than myself. I couldn’t identify with any character and, unfortunately, I couldn’t even sympathize or understand them. Despite being an enjoyable read, my youthful eyes couldn’t offer me a deeper understanding of it.