August 30, 2006

Review:One Hundred Years of Solitude

One Hundred Years of Solitude
by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

This is from the novel list in The Well-Educated Mind. I had heard this book contained some unpleasant and weird things in it. When asked why he wrote the book, the author said, "I just wanted to write about incest." He was being sarcastic. The book does have plenty of incest but that wasn't why he wrote the book.

No one is really too sure what the point of the book is. Marquez hasn't helped with interpreting it's meaning. But it is very obvious when reading it that there is something deeper going on that you can't quite put your finger on. There is so much imagery.

The story is of the generations of the Buendia family living in Macondo. The village is utopian in the beginning, as all newly founded places are. Slowly the world starts causing mayhem on the inhabitants of this isolated village. Each member of the Buendia family feels stifled in his/her own solitude. Throughout the novel Melquiades, a gypsy who has left undecipherable parchments with the family, is always present, whether in the flesh or in spirit. He is often a ghostly figure that only some can see and talk with. No one in the family can figure out what the parchments say but they are all driven to try.

I thought the novel strange at first but by the end I found I kind of liked it. After examining it further I have come to like it very much. I still can't say I know what it's all about but I have a few ideas. Man is driven to fulfill certain ideas in his life. These ideas are different for each person. But eventually we all end up unsuccessful and disillusioned. We all suffer from a personal solitude that prevents us from truly connecting with others, perhaps because of our differing ideas. And all will be forgotten anyway in a generation or two. No one will get the chance to learn from the mistakes of previous generations.

What a dismal view of the world! Whether I agree or not I find these views sad. But I can see how one could come to view the world this way. I dream of an ideal world that many others would hate. Fortunately the Theologian and I agree on what is ideal for us. But what do you do when your ideal is different from your spouse? Divorce? Grow bitter? Give up? Beat the other into submission?

I do believe the world is a dark and dismal place. I find myself agreeing most with the authors who write about how cruel the world is. But I always return to an inner feeling of hope. While the world is harsh and ready to beat us down, God offers a hope of something better. I am a christian. I believe in a separate world of bliss where the truly ideal is a daily reality. This life we lead right now is the dream. Someday I will be living the reality in the heavenly realms.

So do I recommend the book or what? Sure. If you like reading books with great writing, loads of imagery, and a mental exercise then you will enjoy it. What about the incest? It's not very detailed or horrific. I was a lot more offended by Running With Scissors(which I most vehemently do not recommend). I liked One Hundred Years of Solitude. It's not for everyone but I don't regret reading it.

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