Spanish Teaching, Our blog for teachers and students of Spanish

Home Page » Post

« Next Article: The Courtyards Festival of Cordoba
» Previous Article: Teaching Spanish - Follow Your Nose

Tuesday, April 22, 2014 (read 1941 times)

Gabriel García Márquez (1927 – 2014)

by Lauris

One Less Genius In the World

Sometimes a genius hides behind a persona of someone who is always angry or hard to live with. That’s what I think of when I think of Salvador Dalí. When I calmly look at one of his paintings, I am transported to a world that I wouldn’t have found had it not been for him. But, when I consider how he was as a person: how he acted, his political views… well, I really don’t like him at all. One thing is clear to me, though:  there is the man and there is the art and maybe you can separate one from the other.

I think we were all greatly saddened when we found out about the passing of don Gabriel García Marquez in Mexico City where his was living. Unlike other people, and out of respect for the man, I don’t like to call him Gabo.

Right before I began my university studies, in the mid 1970’s, I discovered a book called Leaf Storm from an author I had heard mentioned but didn’t know. This book opened the doors to a little town called Macondo—that mythical town where so many stories from García Marquez would unfold. Later, I would read other books like No One Writes to the Colonel or Big Mama’s Funeral. Finally, completely seduced by the writing of this smiling little man with a thick moustache and taut face, I entered the universe of 100 Years of Solitude.

Wow! A couple of days ago I realized a great truth was hiding behind the words spoken during a documentary of García Marquez that was being broadcast on the state-owned public television station (this type of coverage is normal when someone of the nature of García Marquez passes away).  García Marquez spoke of how in the English-speaking world there is a tradition of “magic” that goes back to its beginnings as a language and what he missed was a Latin American mythology. He meant this in the sense of leaving the “normal” world and diving in to a world like Tolkien had made. García Marquez was able to do this. He was capable of transporting us to other levels of reality (or fiction?) in which we are surprised to see Melaquiades, the gypsy,  introduce ice to the tropical town of Macondo or how Remedios, the beauty, rises, enveloped in a white dress, towards the sky after leaving Mass…  

Magic Realism

The expression “magic realism” makes complete sense when we enter into the magic of García Marquez and, later, into that of his contemporaries like Cortázar, Vargas LLosa, Borges, Onetti, Rulfo etc. They open the doors to a new world in a very real sense.

Nothing will be the same. After reading Gabriel García Marquez there is something that changes within us. He surprises us with an apparent simplicity of language, product of an enormous amount of work, his richness of expression and “grandfatherly” way of telling stories. He captures us and our imaginations the same way a spider captures prey in its web.

Once you enter and read these types of stories you become addicted to them and won’t settle for a traditional narration. This group of geniuses has revolutionized the world of fiction (not only in Spanish) in a definitive way.

One should remember, now that García Marquez has moved on to his own personal Macondo, how he spoke about 100 years being a good novel but not one that he was completely satisfied with.  Unlike 100 years, Love in the time of Cholera was, as don Gabriel said, a novella with its feet on the ground. A love story as it should be with an everlasting ending—just like his genius.

I have just heard that his widow and children are considering publishing a posthumous work that García Marquez was working on; apparently a story he was never satisfied with. He worked on it so much that, in fact, he wrote six different endings for this book about a woman named Maria Magdalena (Mary Magdalene). Curiously, the Magdalena River is the river that the lovers, Florentino and Fermina, travel on without end; like a literary and romantic möbius strip, at end of Time of Cholera.

The same way that El Cid won battles after death, don Gabriel has fallen through our fingers like sand and we haven’t been able to thank him with, for example, a Cervantes Prize. The Swedes have awarded him the Nobel Prize but his fellow Spanish speakers haven’t been capable of paying tribute in the same fashion. Maybe because it wasn’t politically correct considering his friendship with Fidel Castro or his linguistic radicalism confronting the official academicism. The only thing for sure is that some people haven’t been able to separate the man from the art.

In the end, a genius is a genius—with or without a prize.

Farewell, don Gabriel.

Keywords: gabriel garcia marquez,love in the time of cholera,100 years of solitude,marquez,magic realism,garcia marquez,gabriel garcía márquez


No comments found.

« Next Article: The Courtyards Festival of Cordoba

» Previous Article: Teaching Spanish - Follow Your Nose