Saturday, January 2, 2010

Book Review: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

Description (from Goodreads):
"Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice."

It is typical of Gabriel García Márquez that it will be many pages before his narrative circles back to the ice, and many chapters before the hero of One Hundred Years of Solitude, Buendía, stands before the firing squad. In between, he recounts such wonders as an entire town struck with insomnia, a woman who ascends to heaven while hanging laundry, and a suicide that defies the laws of physics:
A trickle of blood came out under the door, crossed the living room, went out into the street, continued on in a straight line across the uneven terraces, went down steps and climbed over curbs, passed along the Street of the Turks, turned a corner to the right and another to the left, made a right angle at the Buendía house, went in under the closed door, crossed through the parlor, hugging the walls so as not to stain the rugs, went on to the other living room, made a wide curve to avoid the dining-room table, went along the porch with the begonias, and passed without being seen under Amaranta's chair as she gave an arithmetic lesson to Aureliano José, and went through the pantry and came out in the kitchen, where Úrsula was getting ready to crack thirty-six eggs to make bread.

"Holy Mother of God!" Úrsula shouted.


The story follows 100 years in the life of Macondo, a village founded by José Arcadio Buendía and occupied by descendants all sporting variations on their progenitor's name: his sons, José Arcadio and Aureliano, and grandsons, Aureliano José, Aureliano Segundo, and José Arcadio Segundo. Then there are the women--the two Úrsulas, a handful of Remedios, Fernanda, and Pilar--who struggle to remain grounded even as their menfolk build castles in the air. If it is possible for a novel to be highly comic and deeply tragic at the same time, then One Hundred Years of Solitude does the trick. Civil war rages throughout, hearts break, dreams shatter, and lives are lost, yet the effect is literary pentimento, with sorrow's outlines bleeding through the vibrant colors of García Márquez's magical realism. Consider, for example, the ghost of Prudencio Aguilar, whom José Arcadio Buendía has killed in a fight. So lonely is the man's shade that it haunts Buendía's house, searching anxiously for water with which to clean its wound. Buendía's wife, Úrsula, is so moved that "the next time she saw the dead man uncovering the pots on the stove she understood what he was looking for, and from then on she placed water jugs all about the house."

My thoughts:
When I started to read this book I did not really have any expectations towards it. My Finnish teacher as well as my mother told me that this book will be pretty hard to read. After this reading experience I totally agree with them. There are many factors which make this book hard to read but also many things that in the end you notice and you understand all the happenings.

One extremely hard thing in reading this book was following the characters. The members of Buendia family always got the same names and it was really hard to follow all the Aurelio's and Jose Arcadio's and many times I had to go back and see which character is told about at the moment. Also following the characters who leave Macondo and come back was pretty hard.

In this book family members have sex together, there are whores, parties and magic. Some parts of this book where extremely funny, some just plain boring. I think that you really must WANT to read this book so you will be able to finish it. I HAD to read this book, we will discuss it in my Finnish class after the break ends.

I was looking for a family tree of the Buendia family and I found many good examples from the Internet. I found this one the best for my purposes.

This was the first review of 2010! YEY! And the first book completed in 2010.

Challenges I can count this book into:

J. Kaye's +100 Reading Challenge
J. Kaye's Support Your Local Libraty reading Challenge
Gilmore Girls reading challenge (category:other)

1 comment:

  1. This book was in my wishlist from the day it was declared in Oprah's Book Club, I guess in the year 2003. And finally when I actually got to read it, I think it was worth the wait. I lived with Ursula all from the very beginning from the discovery of Mocondo to the death of the last heir of the family after 100 year! Recommended to all readers and the family tree would be a great help provided at the beginning of the book since you are passing on to several generations in a single book. Congratulations to the Author!

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