Assigned reading: The Most Beautiful Drowned Man in The World
A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings
In 1955 Gabriel Garcia Marquez wrote his first novella Leaf Storm. It takes place in a fictional village
called Macondo which is based on his own village, the one he grew up in Columbia.
Leaf Storm takes place in half an hour on a Wednesday. It starts with a death, a man hangs and it ends
with his funeral. As we recall from Things Fall Apart, that piece of artwork ends with Okonkwo hanging.
American Companies – the bananas are a metaphor for colonialism.
In 1967 Marquez writes A Hundred Years of Solitude. – It is the same village of Macondo only it takes
100 years. It starts off with a death and ends with a man eaten by ants.
One of the most memorable lines “Look at the mess we got ourselves into just because we asked a gringo
to eat bananas with us.”
1982- Wins the Nobel Prize
His most recent novel is called My Melancholy Whores
Leaf Storm- short, accessible and it’s based on Antigone by Sophocles. To this day Marquez insists that
Leaf Storm is his favourite novel that he’s written. He doesn’t understand the success of his Hundred
Years of Solitude. To him it was a joke.
Pablo Neruda said that his novel was the greatest revelation in North and South America since Don
The New York Times said it was the greatest revelation since genesis.
So why did Leaf Storm get ignored? Success is harder to explain.
Hundred Years of Solitude was translated into English and English makes it possible to get famous. In
1970 Gregory Rabassa translated it. Gabriel Garcia Marquez likes the translation better than his own
“A good translation...reads the book and then rewrote it from his recollections” (1981)
Full interview in Paris: http://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/3196/the-art-of-fiction-no-69-gabriel-
Great Literature is thought to be timeless, but there is such thing as being published with good timing.
It was the early 70s when “sticking it to the man” was in style. He had to live in the shadow of his
contemporaries. He was however, a big fan of Hemmingway.
“The tone that I eventually used in One Hundred Years of Solitude was based on the way my grandmother used to
tell stories. She told things that sounded supernatural and fantastic, but she told them with complete naturalness [...]
What was most important was the expression she had on her face. She did not change her expression at all when
telling her stories and everyone was surprised. In previous attempts to write, I tried to tell the story without believing
in it that what I had to do was believe in them myself and write them with the same expression with which my
grandmother told them: with a brick face.(The Paris Review Interviews II, 188) Painting in the 1920s by Art Critic Post-Expressionist German Painters. They began to be by this time
The magic found in everyday things.
“Ordinary things are important”
This could be interpreted as nature vs. Technology/manmade objects.
Russo’s “The Dream”
This is magical realism. It is not realistic, but there’s pure
magic. It is in her head. She’s not really in the jungle she’s on her couch imagining it, or painting it. Michael Parks. Magic represented AS real.
In A Hundred Years of Solitude here is the first paragraph
“Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant
afternoon when his father took him to discover ice. At that time Mocondo was a village of twenty adobe
houses, built on the bank of a river of clear water that ran along ...” (Pg. 1)
It’s magical. As if it were real. The real is represented by magic. (two different things yet both combined
and told with a “brick face”)
In his Nobel Prize speech he spoke of a dictator who had a funeral for the left leg he lost in war. All you
have to do is to make it believable. Writers could suspend the environment of whatever they wish.
“One night a friend lent me a book of short stories by Franz Kafka. I went back to the pension
where I was staying and began to read The Metamorphosis. The first line almost knocked me off
the bed. I was so surprised. The first line reads, “As Gregor Samsa awoke that morning from
uneasy dreams, he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect...” When I read the
line I thought to myself that I didn’t know anyone was allowed to write things like that. If I had
known, I would have started writing a long time ago.”
- Gabriel Garcia Marquez interview with Peter H. Stone The Paris Review (1981)
Magic Realism + Marquez. He turned a style into a genre
In the 1980s the Latin Americans were against this because it almost became what was expected
In the 1990s Young Urban Writers started a new movement called McOndo which is an allusion
to Macondo the village in Marquez’ novels and Mc from McDonalds a corporation. They
sustained that Magical Realism limits the Latin American way of writing to just that.
Alberto Fuguet and Sergio Gomes’ book McOndo. In 1968 Marquez wrote Blacaman the Good, Vendor of Miracles. Blacaman was an orphan on
Marquez too is an orphan who is not an orphan. His parents were gone by the time he was 9 and
he grew up with his grandparents.
He then worked as an apprentice to a newspaper. He gained fame and fortune overnight.
Pg. 120- “The truth is that I’d gain nothing by being a saint after being dead, an artist is what I am, and the only
thing I want is to be alive so I can keep going along at donkey lever in this six-cylinder touring car I bought from the
marines ‘consul...all I need is my idiot face, and I have more than enough with the string of shops I won from here to
beyond the sunset...now go stumbling after my autographed pictures, almanacs with my love poetry, medals with
my profile, bits of my clothing, and all that without the glorious plague of spending all day and night sculpted in
equestrian marble and shat on by swallows like the fathers of our country.”
That may just as well be a description of himself.
There was a time when Philosophy sprang such as Hume, Kant etc. And most of it was critiquing
The 20 century version of it was epistemology. HOW we know. What we can/can’t know.
The distinction was less on HOW we know than with the kind of world’s philosophical reasons.
There was a Post-Marxist group of philosophers called the Frankfurt School.
They wrote a book called The Dialectic Enlightenment. - Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno,
To summarise the book (which they would be against, because they were against summarising in
general). Reason is good for us. Reason is a tool of domination and control.
They began with Myth/Religion. For instance, once the naked man found himself on the shore of
a vast ocean, not knowing what is beyond this big threatening mass of water, the first thing he
did was name it: ocean. The same goes for lighting, it got named