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One Hundred Years of Solitude ()

Nobel Prize Winners (1982)

The Modern Age, or the Age of Reason--dating to the late 1400s and the Fall of Constantinople, the Discovery of the New World, the invention of moveable type and the rise of Protestantism--has seen a gradual triumph of the politicoeconomic theory of liberal, capitalist, protestant, democracy.  The fundamental idea which underlies this system comes from Thomas Hobbes, that Man was born free, but that in the state of Nature, life was "poor, nasty, brutish and short"  This realization--wonderfully expressed in an aphorism by Edmund Burke : "There is no safety for honest men but by believing all possible evil of evil men"--led to the idea that the rise of the State represented a willingness of men to part with some measure of their personal freedom to a central authority in exchange for a guarantee of protection from their fellow men.  The great project of Western politics over the past 500 years has been to find a point of equilibrium where both freedom and security are maximized.  Despite it's fabulous origins, this understanding of man and politics can be broadly referred to as rational.

Though there is a powerful conservative critique of the over reliance on Reason--particularly Burke's defense of tradition and institutions against nihilist impulses and Hayek's powerful argument that the complexity of human affairs and decision making will simply not yield to rational analysis by intellectuals and bureaucrats--there is not much genuine opposition to Reason per se, with the possible exception of some nearly theocratic religious conservatives.  The real opposition to Reason has come from the Left.  It is founded on Rousseau's competing idea of man in the State of Nature as a peaceful and communal creature.  Where Hobbes looked backward and saw a time of unremitting brutality, Rousseau harbored utopian visions of a time when Man was blissfully happy.  Hobbes understood the rise of society as necessary to provide security; Rousseau understood the rise of civil society to have been a corrupting influence on Man, an artificial taint upon Nature which introduced vice into a previously pure world.  Since this view is contradicted by everything that we know of history, anthropology, archaeology, psychology, etc., it seems fair to call Rousseau's vision antithetical to Reason. Indeed, the political movements that have grown up on the Left--Socialism, Communism, Nazism, etc.--have been largely utopian and have partaken of the aspects of religious movements (see Eric Hoffer and Robert Conquest).

It is surely no surprise then to read the following assessment of the Marxist author Gabriel Garcia Marquez :

    Magical realism expands the categorizes of the real so as to encompass myth, magic and other
    extraordinary phenomena in Nature or experience which European realism excluded.
        -(from Gabriel García Márquez, eds. Bernard McGuirk and Richard Cardwell)

As a writer of the Left, it is Marquez's mission to annihilate the Western belief in Reason and realism and to erect in it's place a belief in idealized Nature, the innate wisdom of the proletariat, and utopian political ideologies.  In this, his most renowned novel, Marquez tells the history of the Buendia family, or of the imaginary town of Macondo, or of his own home town, or of Colombia, or of Latin America, or of the world, depending on your perspective and ability to follow his rather obscure allusions--it's equally difficult, despite Rabassa's excellent translation, to follow the Buendias from one generation to the next since everyone is named either Jose Arcadio or Aureliano.  Added to the familiar epic multi-generational chronicle epic is Marquez's own contribution to literature : magical realism.  Thus we get a woman ascending into heaven while hanging out laundry, an amnesia plague, alchemy, etc.  And at the end of the story, it is discovered that a pre-existing scroll written one hundred years before foretold the whole tale.

The elements of fantasy, while adding nothing to the story, serve to reimagine history from an anti-Western perspective.  Meanwhile, the scroll suggests that historical determinism has been at work and that the players were not even in control of their own lives.  All of this quite naturally won him a Nobel Prize in 1982, sort of the politically corrupt committee's way of dissing Ronald Reagan and siding with the communists in Latin America.

Everytime I pan one of these "world classics" I end up getting angry emails telling me that "everyone" knows it's a "great" book, so let me just put this as clearly as I can : I understand that many people think that this book is the greatest thing since canned beer, but I find it nearly unreadable.  Moreover, as if his continued adherence to Marxism wasn't sufficiently off-putting, Marquez has recently written editorials for American publications comparing Bill Clinton to Hester Prynne and lamenting the plight of Elian Gonzalez, not when he was shipped back to Cuba, but while he was safe here in America.  I find this magical realism stuff almost uniformly annoying, but I admit that I'm willing to humor the great conservative novelist Mark Helprin when he resorts to it, though not happily.  In Gabriel Garcia Marquez's case, a man who still consorts with Fidel Castro and does his vile bidding, I'm not even willing to make the effort any longer (this is my third time reading this one book and I always end up skimming.)  Literature, intentionally or not, serves political purposes and the literature of Gabriel Garcia Marquez serves evil purposes.  Pity me if you will, but I'll stick to the dead white males of the Western Canon who have served us so well.  After all, we won the culture war and the Cold War, we live in the Hobbesian world, not that of Rousseau, can't we finally stop reading the other side's propaganda ?


Grade: (F)


Book-related and General Links:
    -Gabriel Garcia Marquez (1928-) (kirjasto)
    -ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA : "Gabriel Garcia Marquez"
    -FEATURED AUTHOR : Gabriel Garcia Marquez (NY Times Book Review)
    -ARCHIVES : "Gabriel Garcia Marquez" (NY Review of Books)
    -ESSAY : Shipwrecked on Dry Land (GABRIEL GARCIA MARQUEZ, NY Times, March 29, 2000)
    -ESSAY : The mysteries of Bill Clinton : Nobel Prize-winning author Gabriel García Márquez compares the president's fate to that of Hester Prynne (GABRIEL GARCÍA MÁRQUEZ, Salon)
    -ESSAY : THE SOLITUDE OF LATIN AMERICA  (Gabriel Garcia Marquez, NY Times Book Review, February 6, 1983)
    -ESSAY : GABRIEL GARCIA MARQUEZ MEETS ERNEST HEMINGWAY  (Gabriel Garcia Marquez, NY Times Book Review, July 26, 1981)
    -ARTICLE : Nobel laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez emerges from seclusion (Michael Easterbrook, AP)
    -INTERVIEW : A TALK WITH GABRIEL GARCIA MARQUEZ (Marlise Simons, NY Times, December 5, 1982)
    -INTERVIEW : GABRIEL MARQUEZ ON LOVE, PLAGUES AND POLITICS (Marlise Simons, NY Times Book Review, February 21, 1988)
    -INTERVIEW : Garcia Marquez Looks At Life, Love and Death  (ROGER COHEN, August 21, 1991, NY Times)
    -ARTICLE : Last words of Garcia Màrquez : Magical realism ... and fakery : The ailing Nobel Laureate is  writing the definitive account of his life, reports Vanessa Thorpe  (Sunday January 21, 2001, Observer uk)
    -The Nobel Prize in Literature 1982 : Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Official Nobel Site)
    -Gabriel Garcia Marquez : 1982 Nobel Laureate in Literature (Nobel Prize Internet Archive)
    -BIO : Biography of Gabriel Garcia Marquez (1928- ) (Classic Notes)
    -The Internet Public Library Online Literary Criticism Collection : Gabriel Garcia Marquez (1928-)
    -Gabriel Garcia Marquez : Macondo (The Modern Word)
    -AUTHOR PAGE : GABRIEL GARCIA MARQUEZ (1928-)(books unlimited uk)
    -Gabriel García Márquez (1928- ) (Bohemian Ink)
    -Gabriel José Garcia Márquez (1928- ) (Malaspina Great Books)
    -Gabriel Garcia Marquez (1928- )(Poster Art)
    -Gabriel García Márquez and Magical Realism (Elizabeth Van Tillburg and Kelly Goodall)
    -PROFILE : Everyone from Clinton to Castro listens to him. But can he help rescue Colombia from left-wing guerrillas and right-wing death squads?  (Jon Lee Anderson,  Written on September 27, 1999. A New Yorker Profile)
    -ARTICLE : GARCIA MARQUEZ OF COLOMBIA WINS NOBEL LITERATURE PRIZE (John Vinocur, The New York Times, October 22, 1982)
    -ESSAY : Typing for Castro: The Awful Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Mark Falcoff, May 1, 2000, National Review)
    -ESSAY : Distressing Portrayal By Garcia Marquez: Bolivar's Feet of Clay (LARRY ROHTER, The New York Times)
    -ESSAY : Millennium reputations: Which are the most overrated authors, or books, of the past 1,000 years? (Jonathan Bate, Sunday Telegraph)
    -ONLINE STUDY GUIDE : One Hundred Years of Solitude (Josh Perry, Spark Notes)
    -ESSAY : Gabriel Garcia Marquez and His Approach to History in One Hundred Years of Solitude by Maria R. Estorino
    -LECTURE : On Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude   (full text of a lecture delivered, in part, in Liberal Studies 402, on Tuesday, March 28, 1995, by Ian Johnston, Malaspina)
    -REVIEW : of One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (ROBERT KIELY, NY Times)
    -REVIEW : of One Hundred Years of Solitude (Mostly Fiction)
    -REVIEW : of CHRONICLE OF A DEATH FORETOLD. By Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Translated from the Spanish by Gregory Rabassa (1983) (Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, NY Times)
    -REVIEW : of CHRONICLE OF A DEATH FORETOLD, By Gabriel Garcia Marquez.Translated by Gregory Rabassa (1983)(Leonard Michaels, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW : of THE STORY OF A SHIPWRECKED SAILOR. By Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Translated by Randolph Hogan (1986) (MICHIKO KAKUTANI, NY Times)
    -REVIEW : of THE STORY OF A SHIPWRECKED SAILOR By Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Piers Paul Read, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW : of CLANDESTINE IN CHILE The Adventures of Miguel Littin. By Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Translated by Asa Zatz (1987)(Michael Wood, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW : of Love in the Time of Cholera By Gabriel Garcia Marquez Translated by Edith Grossman  (1988) (MICHIKO KAKUTANI, NY Times)
    -REVIEW : of LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA By Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Translated by Edith Grossman (1988) (Thomas Pynchon, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW : of  Love in the Time of Cholera (Robert Couteau,  Arete Magazine, Dec. 1988)
    -REVIEW : of THE GENERAL IN HIS LABYRINTH By Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Translated by Edith Grossman (1990) ( MICHIKO KAKUTANI, NY Times)
    -REVIEW : of THE GENERAL IN HIS LABYRINTH By Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Translated by Edith Grossman (1990)(Margaret Atwood, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW : of Strange Pilgrims Twelve Stories By Gabriel Garcia Marquez Translated by Edith Grossman (1993)( MICHIKO KAKUTANI, NY Times)
    -REVIEW : of STRANGE PILGRIMS Twelve Stories. By Gabriel Garcia Marquez (William Boyd, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW : of OF LOVE AND OTHER DEMONS By Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Translated by Edith Grossman (1995)(A. S. Byatt, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW : of Of Love and Other Demons (R.Z. Shephard, TIME)
    -REVIEW : of NEWS OF A KIDNAPPING By Gabriel Garcia Marquez Translated by Edith Grossman (1997) (MICHIKO KAKUTANI, NY Times)
    -REVIEW : of News of a Kidnapping By Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Robert Stone, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW : Alastair Reid: Report from an Undeclared War, NY Review of Books
       News of a Kidnapping by Gabriel García Márquez and translated by Edith Grossman
    -REVIEW : News of a Kidnapping by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Adam Mars-Jones, Books Unlimited uk)

    -ESSAY: Re: Gregory Rabassa : The Translator who brought us Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Feed Mag)
    -AWARD : American Translator Wins Award  (EDWIN McDOWELL,  May 8, 1988, NY Times)

    -ESSAY : WHY SOME WRITERS AREN'T WELCOME HERE (Jeri Laber, NY Times, April 29, 1984)


I'm sorry buddy, but you are an absolute moron. An idiot like you, at the height of your ignorance, doesn't deserve to speak of brilliant minds such as Rousseau and Hobbes, or Marquez for that matter.

- Erin

- Jan-02-2007, 08:19


Critics are like would be artists is what they say.... No?


- Aug-12-2006, 16:32



Thanks for this review. I had to read the book for a literature class. I thought it was well written, had a nice plot, all that stuff that most people like. But I found nothing noteworthy. I think a good book should edify and lift up, and encourage good morals. This book certainly does not. Marquez says nothing about how wrong most of the people were for doing various bad things. He seems to think we're all animals and should live like them. yuck. I'm sorry about all the nasty reviews you've gotten, but keep up the good work. :)

- lancha

- Feb-21-2006, 16:16


I suggest if you can, to read the book in Spanish. So much is lost in translation. The book in itself is ver culrural and very colombian, there are alot of things that can't be understood unless you know the culture well. Regarding the review, you can adoe or hate the book but in my personal taste it's not Marquez's finest work. I suggest reading Chronicle of a Daeth Foretold or Candida Erindira and other stories.

- Violette

- Jun-10-2005, 21:20


You really like kicking the pets. I am amazed that responses to your negative reviews, even the thoughtful ones, provoke elaborate responses by folks who can't seem to avoid throwing a quick personal attack in with their otherwise high-minded argument. I'm particularly fascinated with the idea that only a Nazi could dislike this book. "If you don't like my little pet book, you must be a jew-hating racist!" To quote a great 20th-century philosopher, "Nonsense prevails, modesty fails, grace and virtue turn into stupidity." Elvis Costello said that.

On its merits, I will challenge you only with this: Come on, dude---it's Bill Clinton's favorite book!

- jrm

- Jul-30-2004, 14:34



Here is a quote you might like:

Art that cannot rely on the joyous, heartfelt assent of the broad and healthy mass of the people, but depends on tiny cliques that are self-interested and blasé by turns, is intolerable. It seeks to confuse the sound instinct of the people instead of gladly confirming it...

From now on we are going to wage a merciless war of destruction against the last remaining elements of cultural disintegration... Should there be someone among [the artists] who still believes in his higher destiny — well now, he has four years' time to prove himself. These four years are sufficient for us, too, to make a judgement. From now on — of that you can be certain — all those mutually supporting and thereby sustaining cliques of chatterers, dilettantes, and art forgers will be picked up and liquidated. For all we care, those prehistoric Stone-Age culture-barbarians and art-stutterers can return to the caves of their ancestors and there can apply their primitive international scratchings.

— Adolf Hitler

I thoroughly enjoyed your exhibition of Degenerate Art (or more aptly titled: Entartete Kunst). I am suprised that you have yet to review Mein Kampf and hail its literary and philisophic merits.

You have totally missed the points of most of the greatest works of literature of our time (As I Lay Dying, Ulysses, and this particularly fine novel). Have you ever heard of the fallicy of authorial intent? Obviously not, otherwise you would have been able to separate the characters and their beliefs from the authors and theirs. In doing so you might have stumbled upon deeper truths than "reason" and "realism" can offer (I say 'stumble' because I doubt a neanderthal like you could actually decipher symbolic truth). Of course you would actually have to READ the book to do that, wouldn't you? I have absolutely no respect for you or you oppinions. Maybe if you actually read the book and objectively analyzed its merits and faults I would feel otherwise. Your fear of anything that is not strictly reasonable and realistic, and your constant biased politicizing is appaling considering the fact that you consider yourself a serious literary critic. What you did read of Solitude was misread and you review is uneducated and moronic.

People like you are not worthy of books like these. Please stop reading them.

- Isaac

- Jul-17-2004, 16:45


please emh or whoever you are, stop being a hair-splitting bitch


- Apr-23-2004, 10:43


Just a pet peeve of mine: "it's" is a contraction of "it is"; "its" is the possessive adjective. If you're going to take the time to write commentaries, perhaps you could take the time to also learn some basic grammar.

- Emh

- Apr-13-2004, 01:39


I agree, a waste. Read a few pages years ago and just could not push on at all. Badly written. Made no sense to me. This is another big con perpetrated by the publisher to get people to plunk down their cash.

A good sign that a book sucks is over-hype on the cover. If the praise is too good to be true--it usually is.

- K.A.

- Feb-13-2004, 08:34


What an uninformative review. The first part pontificates on Hobbes vs. Rossaeu, while the last part wails on Marquez's political views. Only a few sentences sequeezed in the middle address the actual novel. OJ could have saved bandwidth by simply typing, "Magical Realism is not my cup of tea."

Equally annoying (especially from a conservative) is the adoption of the leftist philosophy that "the personal is political and the political is personal." Just as PC critics scour novels for any hint of racism, OJ has scoured this novel for any hint of Marxism, even though the novel is not political or dogmatic by any stretch of the imagination. (At least not yet, I'm currently halfway through.)

So far, I'd say it's a fine novel. It has some stellar passages (especially towards the beginning) and the lively, energetic characters you find in Faulkner's best novels. The book actually reminds me a lot of The Hamlet.

- Peter Caress

- May-20-2003, 23:11


I enjoyed the book very much. Yes, it's hard to read due to the names and there are still some parts I don't get. However, that's life, many difficult things happen and many things you will never truly get. That's the realist section of this book, and making it all magical and mystical in the Latin American tradition makes it all the more a great work of FICTION. Sorry, there's a world outside Europe, and Latin America is one of them. It's hard for someone of a different culture and mind-set to understand that. Gabriel isn't a Marxist, (leftist, yes) nor does he love Castro, even though he's a personal friend of his. (He wrote a book about Fidel's betrayal of the Revolution, but it isn't going to be published until the USA and Cuba relation normalcy, i.e. Castro's death)

You can disagree with his writing, but not on the basis because it's different and hard for you to read, (There are tons of books like that, just simply don't skim, it isn't that kind of book) It isn't leftist propoganda, since the Liberals in the book commit atrocities as well. The Liberals and Conservatives are real parties in Colombia, and events such as "the violence" which Márquez lived through and the Thousand Days Wars, which Márquez's grandfather fought in, influenced the book, thus its based in factual accounts, turned magical to create fiction. Learn the history behind it and the culture, because as long as you stick to "the dead White Men" who supposedly won the "culture war," it will be hard for you to understand this world outside Europe and the USA. Gabriel himself studied and read these "dead White Men" and they even influeced his writing, but he's Latino, not European. Don't try to impose views, understand people, but as they say, ignorance is bliss.

- Xavi Luis

- May-19-2003, 04:29


You couldn't think of anything positive to say about the book either, huh? I know the feeling...

- oj

- May-10-2003, 19:49


Dear Orrin My god, there are just so many things wrong with this review that its almost not worth commenting on!

Political affiliations aside, even you should know the importance getting all perspectives before making judgement, your writing is that of an overly informed redneck whose mentality is so hardwired into his extremely closed mind that he has to resort to the most petty things in order to detract from a written text.

Ever seen "a fish called wanda"? You are the closest person to Otto that I know of, an idiot who believes himself inteligent because of the authors he can quote. You, my friend are constantly confirming your ignorance with every statement you make, I mean seriously, you never actualy -read- the book and you feel qualified to write a review? Do you have any idea how many studies and interpretations have gone over every aspect of this story?

Yet you still feel justified in your feeble complaints, the characters are all named the same,(that occurs in latin america, Im named after my grandfather) or, the story is too hard to follow because of the writing style. Compaints like those demonstrate that you should be back in grade school learning Dr Seuss, you borderline illiterate! Go to your room and learn to read! Those little symbols have phoenetic meanings that make words!

Reviews like these show the neglegence of this website, a completely one dimentional piece with nothing to offer. Every one who has ever read this review is now dumber thanks to you.

Thankyou very much for justifying the existence of the left wing, otherwise we would all be as close-minded as you, you americo-centric redneck.

- Camilo Diaz-Pino

- May-10-2003, 19:16