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Chronicle of a Death Foretold (1981)

by Gabriel García Márquez

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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8,189151786 (3.91)169
A man returns to the town where a baffling murder took place 27 years earlier, determined to get to the bottom of the story. Just hours after marrying the beautiful Angela Vicario, everyone agrees, Bayardo San Roman returned his bride in disgrace to her parents. Her distraught family forced her to name her first lover; and her twin brothers announced their intention to murder Santiago Nasar for dishonoring their sister. Yet if everyone knew the murder was going to happen, why did no one intervene to stop it? The more that is learned, the less is understood, and as the story races to its inexplicable conclusion, an entire society--not just a pair of murderersis put on trial… (more)
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    The Driver's Seat by Muriel Spark (AaronPt)
    AaronPt: Both are odd, short novels that mess around with the conventions of crime fiction.
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» See also 169 mentions

English (105)  Spanish (27)  Italian (4)  French (2)  Dutch (2)  Portuguese (Portugal) (2)  Catalan (2)  Finnish (1)  Portuguese (1)  Swedish (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  German (1)  Hebrew (1)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (151)
Showing 1-5 of 105 (next | show all)
Fictionalized Honour Killing
Review of the Vintage paperback edition (2003) translated from the Spanish language original "Crónica de una muerte anunciada" (1981) by Gregory Rabassa.

I recently acquired a copy of the Estonian language translation edition Väljakuulutatud mõrva kroonika (1996/reprint 2021) of this book and not having read it previously I decided to read it in parallel with the English translation. This would assist me if I had any difficulties with reading in my Estonian heritage language.

Chronicle of a Death Foretold relates a fictionalized version of a story that Márquez was told of a 1951 murder in his hometown of Sucre, Colombia, where he lived for a period from when he was 10 years old in 1937. By the time of the murder he was no longer living there and had heard about it from his godbrother. The differences in the novella from the true-life story are described in a section of its English language Wikipedia entry.

In the book version, there is a major wedding in the town where almost the entire populace joins the celebration. However not too long into the wedding night, the groom returns the bride to her family saying that she was not a virgin and that he rebukes her as his wife. After being beaten by her mother, the bride provides the name of her lover, a town dandy named Santiago Nasar. The brides' two twin brothers vow to kill Nasar and spend the early morning hours preparing to do so and announcing their intent to everyone they meet. Despite attempts by a few to prevent the crime, most of the populace ignores the threat or does nothing to prevent it being carried out.

Márquez takes this basis and creates an elaborately winding story that constantly jumps from the day of the event into flashbacks and then flashforwards to 27 years later, when the 'author' is making an investigation of the events and interviewing the participants who are still living. Various mysteries are involved, the primary one being that perhaps Nasar wasn't even guilty but was instead a scapegoat for someone whose name the bride didn't want to reveal. Most of his actions seem to indicate his innocence, but there are hints that he wasn't exactly honourable (a household servant seeks to protect her young daughter from being in contact with him). The other mystery is what seems like a conspiracy on the part of most of the town to let the murder occur even though it seems the brothers are hoping to have it prevented by telling everyone they can.

These various moral quandaries and questions about revenge and family honour make this a harrowing and immersive but also an empathetic and pitiful reading experience. Estonian review to follow in several days.

Trivia and Link
The Spanish language Wikipedia entry for the book provides an extensive list of characters (turn web translator on). This is extremely helpful if you are trying to keep track of who is who since there are so many of them.

Mild spoiler discussing the final dialogue. The ending is foretold throughout the book, but I've blocked this just in case anyone wants to avoid reading these final sentences.
I thought the translation of the final dialogue was odd, as it is an older woman (named as the aunt of the author, Wenefrida Márquez) addressing Santiago Nasar and he answers by calling her 'child'. Checking the original Spanish, it seems to have been a compromise choice, rather than translating "niña" as 'girl'. The Estonian translation gives it as 'proua' i.e. 'madam', which makes more sense.
-¡Santiago, hijo --le gritó-, qué te pasa!
Santiago Nasar la reconoció.
-Que me mataron, niña Wene -dijo.

"Santiago, my son," she shouted to him, "what has happened to you!"
[Santiago Nasar recognized her.]*
"They've killed me, Wene child," he said.


* this sentence is omitted in the English translation.
( )
  alanteder | Sep 21, 2021 |
It is far too easy to say what a book is about without an understanding that is superficial at best, it's an experience essential to the experience of modern education, where most students must extract a theme from a text and proceed to analyse it in the dullest, most derivative way possible. Not to mention they do it without any passion for the subject at hand. That is not the power or the content of literature, and I hope that it never shall be. In that sense, I understand that "Chronicle of a Death Foretold" is about honour, remorse, fate, etc.; but that understanding is undoubtedly ostensible for the time being. What I can truly say I've received from reading this book is probably a gratuitous peak into the culture of Latin America, one which I know nothing of and which has never fascinated me until now. If anything, I was more interested in the way the villagers were connected and interacted with each other more than anything else, which isn't to say I couldn't appreciate the beauty of the Latin American landscape that Márquez incorporates into his writing. I found it a bit hard to get into at first, and found parts of the book hard to understand (in terms of the way it was written, which may be more of a contribution on the translator's part than Máquez himself), but it was a strange and evocative experience that I wouldn't mind reading again. ( )
  yuef3i | Sep 19, 2021 |
Rated: A
Oh, do I love reading Marquez's works. Such a delight with this short novel. He feeds you piece by piece after starting with the end and backfilling the story. Amusing. Tragic. A tale of a town who did little to change the outcome. Brilliant. ( )
  jmcdbooks | Sep 4, 2021 |
Brief, yet immersive account of a village's honor, incestuous gossip, and complicity in murder. It's a story built up through the fragments of accounts by all the bystanders. A great read. ( )
  brianstagner | Aug 7, 2021 |
The twins declared they are going to kill Santiago but hardly anybody takes them seriously. Perhaps most people think they are just bluffing, or assumed that someone will warn Santiago, so they don't have to do it. Quite characteristic of society I find. ( )
  siok | Jun 27, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 105 (next | show all)
In short, one expects from ''Chronicle of a Death Foretold'' another powerful dose of the fabulous and surreal. But behold! While in no way resembling conventional social realism, ''Chronicle'' is not nearly so fantastic as Garcia Marquez's earlier novels. It contains a powerfully plausible plot - a dream-like detective story, really, that pursues the questions of why and how two young men have undertaken a brutal murder that they actually had not wanted to commit.
 

» Add other authors (19 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
García Márquez, Gabrielprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Artís-Gener, Avel·líTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Arutjunjan, SorenIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brotherus, MattiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Couffon, ClaudeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Filho, Remy GorgaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gorga, RemyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kut, İnciTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Landelius, PeterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Meyer-Clason, CurtTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ploetz, DagmarTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Puccini, DarioTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rabassa, GregoryTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Risvik, KjellTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sabarte Belacortu, MarioleinTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
文昭, 野谷Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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the hunt for love
is haughty falconry
Gil Vicente

the pursuit or love
is like falconry
(first American edition)
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On the day they were going to kill him, Santiago Nasar got up at five-thirty in the morning to wait for the boat the bishop was coming on.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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A man returns to the town where a baffling murder took place 27 years earlier, determined to get to the bottom of the story. Just hours after marrying the beautiful Angela Vicario, everyone agrees, Bayardo San Roman returned his bride in disgrace to her parents. Her distraught family forced her to name her first lover; and her twin brothers announced their intention to murder Santiago Nasar for dishonoring their sister. Yet if everyone knew the murder was going to happen, why did no one intervene to stop it? The more that is learned, the less is understood, and as the story races to its inexplicable conclusion, an entire society--not just a pair of murderersis put on trial

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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