García Márquez: The Man and His Work

By Gene H. Bell-Villada | Go to book overview

SIX
The History of Macondo

To approach One Hundred Years of Solitude is not just to read a novel but to stumble onto a vast cultural territory and glimpse a dizzying array of people and patterns, horizons and meanings. Its chronology actually spans from the beginnings of European settlement in America to the dislocations of recent times—later sixteenth century to approximately mid-twentieth. Its characters and their actions represent an awesome range of personality types and happenings. Its world comprises the commonplace and everyday along with the extraordinary and the impossible. Its literary heritage includes ancient scripture, exploratory and family chronicle, Rabelaisian spoofery, and colonial romance. And its appeal is to all ideologies: leftists like its dealing with social struggles and its portrait of imperialism; conservatives are heartened by the corruption and/or failure of those struggles and with the sustaining role of the family; nihilists and quietists find their pessimism reconfirmed; and apolitical hedonists find solace in all the sex and swashbuckling. This is a book that in a very real sense has “something for everyone.”1

Though the wealth of incident in One Hundred Years makes summarizing it all but impossible, here are the bare bones of the plot: The Buendías and followers journey south and found Macondo. Patriarch José Arcadio Buendía starts out enterprising but a mania for science drives him mad; wife Úrsula will provide the practical backbone for the clan. Gypsies regularly visit Macondo, bringing new gadgets; Melquíades, their wisest, writes some strange manuscripts before his death, Macondo’s first. The Buendías’ two sons, José Arcadio and Aureliano, engender respectively the illegitimate Arcadio and Aureliano José with a free-spirited Pilar Ternera; José Arcadio, afeared, runs off with the gypsies. Dance teacher Pietro Crespi courts the adopted Rebeca, and Buendía daughter Amaranta reacts with a poisonous sibling rivalry. At some point a priest founds a church, and Conservative magistrate Apolinar Moscote settles quietly in town to impose central authority, but an uprising led by the founding Buendía at first curbs Moscote. Liberal agitation and Conservative fraud spark a war in which Aureliano will become a famous colonel and Arcadio, briefly, a local despot. With the wars come the deaths of both illegitimate Buendías, Liberal sellout, an inglorious peace, and an

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García Márquez: The Man and His Work
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface to the Second Edition ix
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • A Note on the Text xv
  • Abbreviations xvii
  • Part One- Backgrounds 1
  • One- The Novel 3
  • Two- The Country 15
  • Three- The Writer’s Life 41
  • Four- The Man & His Politics 64
  • Five- The Readings 70
  • Part Two- Works 93
  • Six- The History of Macondo 95
  • Seven- The Master of Short Forms 120
  • Eight Juvenilia & Apprenticeship (a Brief Interlude) 158
  • Nine- The Anatomy of Tyranny 168
  • Ten- The Novelist of Love 194
  • Eleven- The Bolívar Novel 220
  • Twelve- The Unending Love Story 237
  • Thirteen- The Journalist & Memoirist 267
  • Fourteen- The Legacy 285
  • Notes 293
  • Select Bibliography 305
  • Index 329
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