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One Hundred Years of Solitude (Leatherbound…
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One Hundred Years of Solitude (Leatherbound Classics) (original 1967; edition 2011)

by Gregory Rabassa (Translator) Gabriel Gar

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29,22439931 (4.22)1 / 592
Member:MedeaMoon
Title:One Hundred Years of Solitude (Leatherbound Classics)
Authors:Gregory Rabassa (Translator) Gabriel Gar
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Rating:*****
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One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez (1967)

1960s (164)
  1. 292
    The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende (chrisharpe, roby72, krizia_lazaro, browner56)
    browner56: Superb multi-generational sagas of two South American families, told in the magic realism style
  2. 111
    The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov (Mouseear)
  3. 61
    The Deptford Trilogy by Robertson Davies (Gayle_C._Bull)
  4. 50
    The Feast of the Goat by Mario Vargas Llosa (mcenroeucsb)
  5. 52
    Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie (Nickelini)
  6. 41
    The Famished Road by Ben Okri (Medellia)
  7. 42
    Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel (Aturuxo)
  8. 31
    Pedro Páramo by Juan Rulfo (hippietrail)
  9. 10
    The Devil to Pay in the Backlands by Joao Guimaraes Rosa (roby72)
  10. 65
    Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (caflores)
  11. 10
    Purgatory by Tomás Eloy Martínez (philosojerk)
    philosojerk: I found Martinez's style in Purgatory very reminiscent of Marquez's in One Hundred Years. If you enjoyed one of them, you would probably enjoy the other.
  12. 76
    The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón (derelicious)
  13. 10
    Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter by Mario Vargas Llosa (SilentInAWay)
  14. 21
    The Adventures and Misadventures of Maqroll by Alvaro Mutis (chrisharpe)
  15. 00
    The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami (eromsted)
  16. 11
    La saga/fuga de J.B. by Gonzalo Torrente Ballester (Aturuxo)
  17. 11
    Little, Big by John Crowley (britchey)
    britchey: By interweaving magic and the real, both stories tell a multi-generational family epic about birth, death, and destiny.
  18. 22
    Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands by Jorge Amado (hubertguillaud)
  19. 11
    Lovesick by Angeles Mastretta (chrisharpe)
  20. 11
    The Hummingbird's Daughter by Luis Alberto Urrea (ajgreep)

(see all 29 recommendations)

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English (322)  Spanish (50)  Dutch (6)  French (5)  Italian (4)  Portuguese (Portugal) (3)  Portuguese (Brazil) (2)  Portuguese (2)  Hungarian (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (396)
Showing 1-5 of 322 (next | show all)
The book is as if the author had a billion Wouldn't-It-Be-Interesting-If-This-Happened ideas and decided to put them all in the book. There is no real plot or arc beside tracking the lives of a family for six generations who recycled a lot of the names. The characters do awful things. Sentences run on for lines and paragraphs run on for pages.

You would think that these are indications of a terrible book and it might have been in any hands other than those of Garcia Márquez. Even in the translated English, you get the sense lyrical-ness of what the original Spanish must be. The billion ideas all fit the storytelling method - and genre of magical realism - very well. Who needs plot when there are a billion fun ideas for you to mull over? As I see it, repeated names in the book served two functions: it fits in with Úrsula's view of the cyclical and inbred nature of the family and it forced a more careful reading. (There is also a family tree at the front which I really like in books - family trees, cast of characters, etc - so there really is no excuse to find the names and relations confusing.) Awful things are interesting except for rape and incest and some others I probably blocked out (half star off and not more only because the book certainly doesn't glamorise these things but nor does it really condemn but then again, it is magic realism, you also get a man chained to a chestnut tree for decades who end up smelling like mushrooms and wood-flower fungus and the outdoors and that made perfect sense. It is difficult to gauge just how terrible these usually-terrible acts are in this book even though clearly, they are horrible.) Run on sentences and paragraphs which are especially well-written as this book is give you an excuse to read and reread them for a fuller effect.

This book is best served in small pieces - read a page to two pages at a time and pause and think about what you just read before continuing as such. This is particularly helpful in a book which condenses six generations of stories in some four hundred pages. Events and characters have time to sink into your mind and you would be able to keep track of all the José Úrsula Aureliano Arcadio Amaranta Remedios Buendiá. ( )
1 vote kitzyl | Oct 3, 2014 |
For anyone wanting to discover what magic realism is, this is possibly its most accomplished example. Magic realism, where fantastical elements are interwoven into an otherwise believable, normal story of every day life, is particularly suited to those parts of the world that came late to Western industrial civilisation. And South America, with its overflowing melting pot of indigenous populations, former African slaves, Spanish influences and so on, is ideal, because there is such a rich mythology to draw from, which is still resonant even today. It is this cultural backdrop that Marquez exploits to create a world within a world, the founding of a village called Macondo by the Buendias, two Adam and Eve characters, as they escape their previous home after committing a heinous sin. Macondo stands isolated, solitary, and even when it does have connections with the outside world, these interactions are usually transitory and alien. Macondo is clearly representative of Columbia as a whole, and the events that punctuate its existence closely mirror those that happened to Columbia in real life. At the same time, there is a world within this world, the house of the Buendia family, who themselves have a propensity for solitude.

The novel follows 6 generations of this family over the hundred years that the town is founded, thrives, and then slowly deteriorates, just as the family does. There is far too much plot to summarise here, in fact far too much plot to hold in mind in a single reading. Added to this, the names of the family members repeat across the generations, sometimes perfectly, sometimes in mutated form, just as their stories repeat. Theirs is a world of supernatural extremes, where women can literally kill with their beauty, where it can rain for many years without stopping, where people can go on living through force of will. But it is also a world of political extremes, with umpteen wars, barbaric massacres and acute injustices.

I began reading the novel being a little exasperated by it, as it appeared anti-scientific, with, for instance, magnets declared useless trinkets (Electric motors? Compasses? Useless?). But as I read on, I realised that although there is indeed an obvious love of the magical and a suspicion of the modern, the novel is more subtle than that, and for every position you want to take, liberal, conservative, religious, atheist, there is something there to latch onto. So it's not really taking any particular positions, just trying to capture the real voice of a collection of people.

The narrative (except perhaps for one stream of consciousness section) is told in a childlike way, at a distance, without ever getting too close to the inner thoughts of the characters. This emphasises the solitude, as if we can never really know anyone else, and even when we live with them, we are still in a sense strangers to them. But the characters, in the main, are grand caricatures anyway, at times verging on the two dimensional. This might be a criticism of the novel if the characters didn't honorarily gain at least an extra dimension, at least, due to the amazing, whimsical creativity saturating the novel. There is an overflowing richness of fantastical elements, which is at times hilarious, at others tragic, exasperating, poignant, or touching. There is a vast expanse of plot and many profound comments on the South American political landscape, as well as the transitory, repetitive purposeless nature of human existence. On top of this, by the end especially, Marquez combines magic realism cleverly with metafiction, using one fantastical device - a prophetic secret text - to highlight at the climax that this is really just a story, and that stories must collapse, just as people and civilisations do. It is all incredibly clever, and the only real criticism I was left with was that the author doesn't try to hide this at all, and I felt he was pushing his cleverness down my throat on occasion.

Still, despite this quibble, the novel grew on me page by page, and by the end, I was transfixed, exhilarated and exhausted by the epic journey. It is a novel I fell deeply into, that will live with me for a long time, and which was clearly one of the few true landmark novels of the 20th century. ( )
  RachDan | Sep 29, 2014 |
(review originally written for bookslut)

Getting One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez on the Bookslut list was hard work. Both my sister and Mike were opposed to it making it on the list, I was the only one who insisted. Having not read the book myself, I was basing this opinion on what I had read, here and there, describing the book as influential, it's inclusion on other lists of great books, and certainly also on the recommendation of several of my friends, all of whom professed to love the book. My husband had read the book just a year before and seemed to really enjoy it. So I thought it deserved a place on the list.

Now that I've read it, I'm not so sure. The book was interesting, I enjoyed several of the characters, it addressed many grand themes in life, but.... The book moved in circles, constantly repeating itself, and the ending was unsatisfactory. I suppose that this is more like real life than most fiction with their clear plots and neat endings, but this book was anything but realistic, with its man who was always followed by yellow butterflies and young woman who ascended straight up into heaven. And although I certainly understand the point of many of the characters having the same names, it definitely made following along difficult, especially with the author's habit of jumping backward and forward in time, sometimes for no clear reason.

This isn't to say that I wasn't totally engrossed in the book for periods of time. But was it compelling enough to be on the list of best books of the century?

The book is the story of one couple, all their descendants, and the town they lived in. Unfortunately, nearly all of these descendants end up with a name that is some combination of the names Jose Arcadio, Aureliano, and Amaranta. The names themselves seem to be a curse, as each new child seems to end up with the personality and/or unfortunate fate of their namesake. With the family's matriarch so paranoid about inbreeding creating children with pigs' tails, one might think she would eventually clue in to the fact that innaming was doing far more damage to the family. But no one seems to learn anything at all in this book. The family just goes on and on, making the same mistakes over and over. I kept struggling through it, hoping for a moment of redemption that never came.

It's entirely possible that there was some point, some greater meaning to the book that I just didn't get. I am willing to concede that, but I am equally unwilling to read the book again in order to discover it. From now on when I want "magical realism," I'll turn to Salman Rushdie and Ben Okri. ( )
  greeniezona | Sep 20, 2014 |
This is a difficult book to respond to, just because I don't know where to start. Which is appropriate, because of the circularity of the Buendia family, etc. Interesting.

In general, I dislike the genre known as "magic realism". Something about it repels me, and I can't take it seriously. Nor can I trust it as I can other works of fiction, no matter how unreliable the narrator, how unlikely the plot, etc.

The aspects of magic realism in One Hundred Years of Solitude were much less like "realistic magic" and more like storytelling tradition. They just seemed like a stretch of the truth, believable the way a grandparents' exaggerations of childhood can be. So I took it all in, as I would oral storytelling, local legend, that type of thing, and had no trouble with it.

The writing itself was wonderful. Sometimes overdone but mainly just creative and fun and somehow fresh. Of course, I read it in English, but kept a Spanish edition available on my eReader to look up certain words and phrases that I liked. (This is also necessary because I often find myself wondering, "wait... how was that written originally?" [I struggled with the same problem when I read Madame Bovary in English] I definitely think this book needs an updated translation; my English version was translated soon after the original publication and included translations like "sweet milk candy" from "dulce de leche".)

I loved some of the characters and did not have a problem with the repetitive naming - I had a family tree when I needed it, and most of the time the naming made clear who was a Buendia and who wasn't.

I was confused until the end as to where the solitude comes in; I supposed the town of Macondo was solitary, and some of the characters were lonesome, but no more so than people are, at times. In the last 50 pages I felt the solitude, though, and it was somehow touching and real. (Particularly in the way that the last Aureliano feels the solitude, and the way he, well, ends, for lack of a better word. Even though everything was foreshadowed, it was surprisingly unexpected and fairly gripping.

The variety of characters was impressive; as was the changing recognition/awareness of a world outside Macondo - first with small towns and sailors from the unknown, then with central characters leaving Macondo (and, for the time, the story) for Europe.

And with this came one of the most impressive parts of the book, for me, which was the portrayal of the outsider and specifically of the expat and the expat condition. "...dos nostalgias enfrentadas como dos espejos" ("two nostalgias facing each other like two mirrors"), wrote Garcia Marquez. Knowing what I know about Garcia Marquez, little though it may be, made this line (and others) all the more resonant.

It took me a long time to read this book, but I found it easy to pick up and put down and pick up again. ( )
  GraceZ | Sep 6, 2014 |
What can anyone say about One Hundred Years of Solitude? It is an indelible masterpiece; a perfect work of art. It rewards re-reading with a renewed, even enlarged, sense of awe.

No review can be anything other than inadequate, even risible, in the face of an achievement so profound. ( )
  Laura400 | Aug 31, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 322 (next | show all)
... I’m not doing it because I want to create an escapist novel. I’m doing it because I want to describe life more accurately.

Fantasy stories convey truth without needing to be grounded in the reality of this world. They have holistic, logical systems and realities that affect every aspect of their separate universes. They can describe things that never were and never will be on the earth, without direct attachments to the readers’ everyday existence, while human and universal truths come through. On the other hand, magical realism by definition remains tethered to the “real” workings of this universe. I believe sometimes just a touch of the magical can make a story more applicable to a reader’s everyday existence than it would be otherwise.

One classic example is in my favorite novel of all time, One Hundred Years of Solitude, where Gabriel Garcia Marquez describes a village stricken by “the insomnia plague.” This mass sleeplessness eventually affects the peoples’ memories. One man realizes he will soon no longer be able to function without help. He puts signs on everything to remind him what they are. Others do it too, and soon the signs are everywhere.

After a while the people realize knowing what to call a thing does not mean one knows what to do with it. They begin to add instructions to the signs. A cow is for milking, and milk is for putting into coffee, and etcetera. At one end of their town, they even erect a sign which says, GOD EXISTS.

Finally into this “quicksand of forgetfulness” comes a gypsy with “a drink of a gentle color.” When that cure takes hold, one healed man’s “eyes became moist from weeping even before he noticed himself in an absurd living room where objects were labeled and before he was ashamed of the solemn nonsense written on the walls . . .”

None of this is technically impossible of course, therefore it is not “fantasy” in the literary sense. It is only highly, extremely, vastly improbable; so completely unlikely to happen that we must at least call it “magical.” Yet Garcia Marquez wrings so much common sense from it, one cannot help but wonder if this “insomnia plague” might be something he has actually witnessed in the world—something not merely magical, but somehow also real.

Perhaps Garcia Marquez (the world’s best known author of “magical realism”) has simply written about life as it really is for the millions who are driven to mass insanity by labor on the treadmill of materialism, exhausted to the point of forgetting why they started running in the first place, yet goaded to keep at it by the omnipresent advertisements which remind them they need this thing and that thing in order to continue to forget who they really are.

I write magical realism because some fires do burn in the midst of floods (think of hope when all seems lost), and all cures are essentially mysterious (I can’t explain aspirin), and angels do occasionally intervene (according to the beggars in Mother Theresa’s Calcutta), and there are moments in the midst of work when artists sometimes fly (just ask one if you don’t believe).

In other words, I write magical realism because most of us need to get a little distance from our lives to see them as they really are.

 
[García Márquez] creates a continuum, a web of connections and relationships. However bizarre or grotesque some particulars may be, the larger effect is one of great gusto and good humor and, even more, of sanity and compassion. The author seems to be letting his people half-dream and half-remember their own story and what is best, he is wise enough not to offer excuses for the way they do it. No excuse is really necessary. For Macondo is no never-never land. Its inhabitants do suffer, grow old and die, but in their own way.
 

» Add other authors (36 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
García Márquez, Gabrielprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Broek, C.A.G. van denTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cicogna, EnricoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rabassa, GregoryTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rossi, MattiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
for
Jomí García Ascot
and
María Luisa Elío
First words
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.
Muchos años después, frente al pelotón de fusilamiento, el coronel Aureliano Buendía había de recordar aquella tarde remota en que su padre lo llevó a conocer el hielo.
(Bulgarian)
Много години по-късно, пред взвода за разстрел, полковник Аурелиано Буендия щеше да си спомни онзи далечен подиробед, когато баща му го заведе да види леда.
(Chinese, Taiwan, Traditional script)
許多年後,當邦廸亞上校面對行刑槍隊時,他便會想起他父親帶他去找冰塊的那個遙遠的下午。
(Croatian)
Mnogo će se godina kasnije, pred streljačkim vodom, pukovnik Aureliano Buendía sjetiti tog davnog poslijepodneva kada ga je otac poveo da upozna led.
Quotations
"[Y]ou'd be good in a war," she said. "Where you put your eye, you put your bullet."
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Information from the Spanish Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to the English one.
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Haiku summary
Melquiades warns,
a message recieved late,
beware of the ants. (leahdawn)

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0060883286, Paperback)

"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."

With One Hundred Years of Solitude Gabriel García Márquez introduced Latin American literature to a world-wide readership. Translated into more than two dozen languages, his brilliant novel of love and loss in Macondo stands at the apex of 20th-century literature. --Alix Wilber

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:55:14 -0400)

(see all 10 descriptions)

Tells the story of the Buendia family, set against the background of the evolution and eventual decadence of a small South American town.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 11 descriptions

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