In 1982, the Nobel Prize for Literature was received by a modest Colombian writer with the formulation "for novels and stories in which fantasy and reality, combining, reflect the life and conflicts of the whole continent". Latin American literature has become as popular as the Cuban revolution. If you suddenly want to understand the Latin American political system, then in accordance with the advice of Subcomandante Marcos, you should take and read "Hamlet", "Don Quixote" and "Macbeth". If you need a brief history, read "One hundred years of solitude".
Nevertheless, recognizing the author's virtues means simply being an honest person, whether we like the politicization of the award or not. Gabriel Garcia Márquez lacked precisely this: the fame and translations so that he was simply read.
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The History of Creation
Marquez was born in a small town Aracataca, it is the one which shines through the walls of the new-born magic Macondo. A small Colombian city, where the boy was brought up in the house of grandmother and grandfather until the time he went to school. It was Marquez's grandfather, Nicolás, who went to the post office every Friday, it was he who waited for his pension as a veteran of the Civil War of 1899-1903. It is his grandmother Tranquilina – this is the woman-hurricane on which the house of the Buendia family rests and not only this house, and not only she alone. She was her husband’s cousin.
Gabriel, who is also Gabo, was the eldest of sixteen children of parents, who passionately loved each other. His childhood was quite calm, fifteen brothers and sisters did not drive him to a factory or something like that. He graduated, received a decent education. He began as a newsman, wrote editorials, reports, film criticism, abandoning his legal education. In 1955, he went to Europe with a regular journalistic mission, and at this time there is a coup in his homeland. Marquez remains in Paris; besides, the newly-made dictator still closes his newspaper. There he will create "No one writes to the colonel". The story, which will be published in 1961, was actually written in 1956.
He marries at the age of 30, and at the same time begins to realize that writing is more important than making money.
Márquez moved actions of the story in a small Colombian town. The protagonist is a retired colonel, who expects a port boat in the port every Friday. The colonel is waiting for a letter.
This is the incredibly realistic novel of Márquez, written by him in the early period of creativity, even before he developed his own unique manner of writing in the style of "magical realism." In this story, the author has invested a lot of emotions, even though the text itself is written very laconically and a bit dry in places, it is full of incredible emotional power and deep emotions. It can be said with absolute certainty that the twists and turns of the story will captivate the reader and will not be released even after reading. It seems that not a fictional character speaks to us from the pages of the book, but a reserved, proud, noble and self-assured man of flesh and blood and neither poverty nor the bitterness of losing his beloved son could break him.
Magical realism is a magnificent component of Latin American consciousness and literature. Perhaps, it was this that forced people to get involved in new wars, blindly believing in the power of Providence.
Unquestionable fact is that it is in this work that Hemingway's influence can be clearly grasped, which the author does not deny at all. The old colonel is as laconic, proud, stubborn and majestic as is the character of Ernest Hemingway's famous novel "The old man and the sea". Both heroes challenge what is known to be stronger. It seems that it is impossible to overcome it and to break the natural course of events. These are fundamentally new images in the literature of those years, they are imbued with perseverance, special strength and wisdom inherent in those people for whom defeat is an utterly impossible task even in old age. Despite some resemblance to Hemingway, already in this rather early work, Márquez's elegant handwriting cannot be confused with anyone else's.
This work is the underestimated Márquez novel, which quietly disappeared into the shadow of another author's most famous book. It took many years for critics to recognize it as one of his best works. Márquez himself always believed that "No one writes to the colonel" is much stronger than " One hundred years...". But, unfortunately, no one read the story written seven years earlier, and everyone swallowed with pleasure the epic novel about the history of the family and the small world, sprinkled with spangles of domestic magic. Well, people will always love fairy tales and ice-cream.
"No one…" is purely realistic work. Magic is absent on this earth, it is not even in the minds of people. They do not count on the magical phenomenon of heaven, they do not count on the magical phenomenon of state aid. They quietly accumulate anger, reaching the point where one of them has enough strength for a new war. All the books of Márquez are imbued with one motive: the motive of one leader, a strong personality, capable of simply leading to death. Such was Aureliano Buendia. Such was the son of the colonel. But he was killed.
He was killed meanly and treacherously – by shooting into the back of his head. He dies too young, but the memory of him remains on earth. The memory of his associates supports the colonel in moments of extreme despair.
A good general must die in the own bed. One ascribes to the colonel, long ago departed from the war, functions of the last bulwark of justice and blood spilt not in vain.
Everything holds emotional tension in the story: exhausting melancholy, understatement and the struggle of the human soul, which is alive as long as it keeps itself, respects itself until it is humiliated and trampled. Marquez is not strong in emotional descriptions and shades, but, as they say, the devil is in small things. In small details, we understand how quickly the world around is crumbling. The sewing machine is sold, no one will even take an old clock in pledge. The shoes of the colonel are rubbed, he wears those in which he went to the wedding. Imagine how a woman, who went out in the last dress that did not get out of order – in the wedding one, will look like.
The colonel is daily ground by the circumstances, the petty bourgeoisie and banal hunger do it. During the time described in the book, the colonel is beaten every day, he does not rely on anything and the decision does not come to him from heaven. Nothing good ever happens to him. Nothing good happens at all. Neither good nor bad: the city froze in this change of weeks, as in the Ground-hog Day. Only the pain increases every day. But he continues to wait. Because faith is all that has left to the colonel. Faith, dignity and the game cock of the son.
We find ourselves in a strange time in the book. This is the moment of the truce when colonel Aureliano Buendia signed a peace treaty and laid down arms. At the time of signing the contract, a young man with a mule loaded with gold, walking on his last breath, enters the tent. This young man is our hero. He went to the barricades after lessons, he escaped from school. He began to fight for the future of his country, which he realized very vaguely. He was already the colonel at the age of 20. And there was nothing after that.
After the end of hostilities, the colonel faced with a really terrible and dangerous enemy – with a bureaucratic machine. And if it somehow does not really matter in the next world in principle, and it is generally understandable why it is happening, the colonel does not understand what he has to suffer for.
He was given a pension as a participant and a hero of military operations. The pension was postponed, revised, forwarded, put in line. № 1823. And six years have already passed, but in general, it is already fifteen, and he still has not reached the turn. Only perseverance works.
The town here is absolutely not magical. It is as material as possible. We do not see the full picture of what is happening, but we understand that the settlement is holding its breath, clenching its teeth, waiting for something. The son of the colonel was killed. Killed for links with partisans, but this is also not voiced: it is simple and everyone understands it.
The colonel's wife is dying. She is slowly extinguishing, tormented by asthma, but we understand that she will outlive them all. Like Ursula in "One hundred…", the colonel's wife is the driving force. The Márquez women all have tremendous power, they are pragmatic, grand, they can all, we are wondering, why do they even get married?
She is a faithful war bride, who does not reproach but asks those questions that the mother asks. She puts a pot of stones on the stove so that the neighbors do not realize that they have not cooked anything for several days. Because there is nothing in the house. Absolutely nothing. Imagine that all your belongings are an old striking clock and a stupid picture that you do not even like.
And they are ashamed.
Shame is the basis of paganism, its regulator. A small, traditional settlement, where faith in ancestors and land is strong, spirits come at night, and blood of wizards flows in the blood of artisans. And this beautiful traditional world begins to build democracy.
The point is that neither the word "elections" nor the word "democracy" work. Elections and faceless nameless governments, which are far from their people, are changing. In general, nothing works. Only mail, and even then not in our favor.
But all this passes by.
Being in total, long-term poverty, having lost their only son, the colonel and his wife do not lose their fury of spirit, the strength of their character is in their struggle. They are closed in their loneliness and they continue their confrontation even under the roof of the house: together against the world, one by one against each other. Every day they decide the fate of the cock.
Game сock and cockfighting are a topic that runs in parallel with the letter. How stubbornly he believes that the letter will come, he is also sure that the cock will win in the coming battles. Cockfighting is almost a national idea.
A cock is a symbol of the fact that the colonel did not give up. Colonel is the same symbol for the entire people of Macondo. They are defeated every day, the city is captured by petty-bourgeois shopkeepers, and people are starving. But if the colonel does not surrender, then there is still something to fight for. After all, in fact, not cocks are fighting: people are fighting.
During this time, there were five wars and 17 coups, a dictator emerged as if from the underworld, who, under the guise of God, committed the first genocide in Latin America in the modern era. Meanwhile, 20 million Latin American children died before they reached the age of two.
Marquez rewrote this story eleven times, he tried to convey to the reader the strength of the human spirit, which does not bend to anything, the absolute faith in the triumph of justice, the unshakable confidence that, having set the goal, it is not only necessary to reach it in principle, but also to do it nobly, proudly and beautifully. Needless to say, the writer managed to realize his plan. Despite the fact that the story may seem soaked with bitterness, doom and hopelessness, these are just circumstances that will never be able to break the iron will of the veteran, the real colonel.