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The General in His Labyrinth by Gabriel…
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The General in His Labyrinth (1989)

by Gabriel García Márquez

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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English (25)  Spanish (4)  Hebrew (2)  Dutch (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (33)
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The novel is written in the third-person with flashbacks to specific events in the life of Simón Bolívar, "the General". It begins on May 8, 1830 in Santa Fe de Bogotá. The General is preparing for his journey towards the port of Cartagena de Indias, intending to leave Colombia for Europe. Following his resignation as President of Gran Colombia, the people of the lands he liberated have now turned against him, scrawling anti-Bolívar graffiti and throwing waste at him. The General is anxious to move on, but has to remind the Vice-President-elect, General Domingo Caycedo, that he has yet to receive a valid passport to leave the country. The General leaves Bogotá with the few officials still faithful to him, including his confidante and aide-de-camp, José Palacios. At the end of the first chapter, the General is referred to by his full title, General Simón José Antonio de la Santísima Trinidad Bolívar y Palacios, for the only time in the novel.

On the first night of the voyage, the General stays at Facatativá with his entourage, which consists of José Palacios, five aides-de-camp, his clerks, and his dogs. Here, as throughout the journey that follows, the General's loss of prestige is evident; the downturn in his fortunes surprises even the General himself. His unidentified illness has led to his physical deterioration, which makes him unrecognizable, and his aide-de-camp is constantly mistaken for the Liberator.

After many delays, the General and his party arrive in Honda, where the Governor, Posada Gutiérrez, has arranged for three days of fiestas. On his last night in Honda, the General returns late to camp and finds one of his old friends, Miranda Lyndsay, waiting for him. The General recalls that fifteen years ago, she had learned of a plot against his life and had saved him. The following morning, the General begins the voyage down the Magdalena River. Both his physical debilitation and pride are evident as he negotiates the slope to the dock: he is in need of a sedan chair but refuses to use it. The group stays a night in Puerto Real, where the General claims he sees a woman singing during the night. His aides-de-camp and the watchman conduct a search, but they fail to uncover any sign of a woman having been in the vicinity.

The General and his entourage arrive at the port of Mompox. Here they are stopped by police, who fail to recognize the General. They ask for his passport, but he is unable to produce one. Eventually, the police discover his identity and escort him into the port. The people still believe him to be the President of Gran Colombia and prepare banquets in his honor; but these festivities are wasted on him due to his lack of strength and appetite. After several days, the General and his entourage set off for Turbaco.

The group spend a sleepless night in Barranca Nueva before they arrive in Turbaco. Their original plan was to continue to Cartagena the following day, but the General is informed that there is no available ship bound for Europe from the port and that his passport still has not arrived. While staying in the town, he receives a visit from General Mariano Montilla and a few other friends. The deterioration of his health becomes increasingly evident—one of his visitors describes his face as that of a dead man.[12] In Turbaco, the General is joined by General Daniel Florencio O'Leary and receives news of ongoing political machinations: Joaquín Mosquera, appointed successor as President of Gran Colombia, has assumed power but his legitimacy is still contested by Cartagena. The General recalls that his "dream began to fall apart on the very day it was realized".[13]

The General finally receives his passport, and two days later he sets off with his entourage for Cartagena and the coast, where more receptions are held in his honor. Throughout this time, he is surrounded by women but is too weak to engage in sexual relations. The General is deeply affected when he hears that his good friend and preferred successor for the presidency, Field Marshall Sucre, has been ambushed and assassinated.

The General is now told by one of his aides-de-camp that General Rafael Urdaneta has taken over the government in Bogotá, and there are reports of demonstrations and riots in support of a return to power by Bolívar. The General's group travel to the town of Soledad, where he stays for more than a month, his health declining further. In Soledad, the General agrees to see a physician for the first time.

The General never leaves South America. He finishes his journey in Santa Marta, too weak to continue and with only his doctor and his closest aides by his side. He dies in poverty, a shadow of the man who liberated much of the continent.

  bostonwendym | Mar 3, 2016 |
Picking up this book I expected two things: #1 - to enjoy Marquez' lovely, lyrical writing and, #2 - to learn something about Simón Bolívar.
Marquez is undeniably a master of language, unfortunately, the story here, such as it is, did not hold my attention or interest.
We meet Bolívar at the end of his life. Having finally abdicated power, he plans a trip to the coast. Ill and dying, even when he travels, he is caught in a kind of stasis. He reminisces, hazily, but not about the significant events of his life - more about his womanizing.
As I see it, the book is intended as a complex, ambiguous portrait of a broken man, who was both admirable and reprehensible in his prime. It intends both a commentary on the human condition, the fickle nature of adulation, and the corruption and troubles of South American politics.
There are moments of brilliance here, but overall I did not feel that the work succeeded. At too many points in the book I wanted more - a depth that I wasn't seeing, more details, less haziness. I didn't feel how or why the character portrayed by Marquez could had ever had the qualities of a leader or an idol. Since the reader doesn't see him at his height; I feel that we cannot appreciate his fall. ( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
This books is about Simon Bolivar in the last period of his life when he attempts to leave South America and sails down the Rio de Magdelena. Gabriel Garcia Marquez wrote this because much had already been written about Bolivar and his accomplishments, but not so much about this time. It left him room to make an historical fiction.

I quit reading about half way through. I found the tone and rhythm to be monotonous and dull. This may be due to the translation, or perhaps it was the author reaching for the despair of the great man. I'm not sure, but it wasn't something I desired to continue to read. There are interesting bits about the people and the places and even the man, that's why I continued reading to the half-way mark. Others may find a great deal of enjoyment in this. ( )
  MrsLee | Aug 11, 2015 |
A book about a general and his entourage.

If you want to learn about history, you can open up a history book and learn like most students in school. But sometimes, reading about history might be a little easier when given a narrative to work with. And that is exactly what [a:Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez|13450|Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1408500613p2/13450.jpg] does. Written in the fantastic prose that he is known for, he allows the reader to engage on a voyage with one Mr. Simon Bolivar in his last days traveling the continent. Nowhere else in any history book will the last days of a great leader be given as much focus and attention to detail as what Marquez does. ( )
  jms001 | Jun 14, 2015 |
მარტოობის 100 წელიწადის გადამღერება. გენერლებს ხო ვერ გაცდა მარ​ ( )
  buqu | Feb 26, 2015 |
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Had Bolivar not existed, Mr. Garcia Marquez would have had to invent him. Seldom has there been a more fitting match between author and subject. Mr. Garcia Marquez wades into his flamboyant, often improbable and ultimately tragic material with enormous gusto, heaping detail upon sensuous detail, alternating grace with horror, perfume with the stench of corruption, the elegant language of public ceremony with the vulgarity of private moments, the rationalistic clarity of Bolivar's thought with the malarial intensity of his emotions, but tracing always the main compulsion that drives his protagonist: the longing for an independent and unified South America.
 

» Add other authors (15 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
García Márquez, Gabrielprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brotherus, MattiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Grossman, EdithTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Morino, AngeloTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Борисова, АллаTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
It seems that the devil controls the business of my life.
(Letter to Santander, August 4, 1823
Dedication
For Alvaro Mutis, who gave me the idea for writing this book
First words
Jose Palacios, his oldest servant, found him floating naked with his eyes open in the purifying waters of his bath and thought he had drowned.
Quotations
Lo que mi señor piensa, sólo mi señor lo sabe
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0394582586, Hardcover)

General Simon Bolivar, “the Liberator” of five South American countries, takes a last melancholy journey down the Magdalena River, revisiting cities along its shores, and reliving the triumphs, passions, and betrayals of his life. Infinitely charming, prodigiously successful in love, war and politics, he still dances with such enthusiasm and skill that his witnesses cannot believe he is ill. Aflame with memories of the power that he commanded and the dream of continental unity that eluded him, he is a moving exemplar of how much can be won—and lost—in a life.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:01 -0400)

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Recounts the turbulent life of the great Simon Bolivar.

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An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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