Academic journal article The Romanic Review

Garcia Marquez's Journalism and the Gestation of El Otono del Patriarca

Academic journal article The Romanic Review

Garcia Marquez's Journalism and the Gestation of El Otono del Patriarca

Article excerpt

In his well-known extended interview with Plinio Apuleyo Mendoza, published in 1982, Gabriel Garcia Marquez affirmed what Mario Vargas Llosa had already observed ten years earlier: all of his writing can, in a sense, be considered part of one large work. He says" "En general, un escritor no escribe sino un solo libro, aunque ese libro aparezca en muchos tomos con titulos diversos" (79); for example, be adds, "Si te fijas bien, La hojarasca tiene la misma tecnica y el mismo tema (puntos de vista alrededor de un muerto) de El otono del patriarca" (79). The process of gestation of Garcia Marquez's primary novels underscores that all of his works form, in Vargas Llosa's words, "una vasta, dispersa ficcion" (234). As an eighteen-year-old, Garcia Marquez claims, be began work on a projected novel to be titled "La casa de los Buendia," whose protagonist was a solitary "coronel Aureliano Buendia." In 1950, fragments of this novel were in fact published as isolated columns in Colombian newspapers, when Garcia Marquez was employed there as a journalist. In frustration, he set the project aside, later claiming that "no tenia en aquel momento la experiencia, el aliento ni los recursos tecnicos para escribir una obra asi" (Olor 106). Later, in 1958, his travels and observations as a journalist led him to conceive the idea of writing a different novel, a portrait of a dictator. This project, for which preliminary research was done, was then held in abeyance when the author finally seized upon the tone and perspective from which to narrate Cien anos de soledad. After the publication of this work in 1967, Garcia Marquez returned to the other suspended novel, El otono del patriarca, which finally appeared in 1975. We can thus observe that the author spent some seventeen years accumulating and processing the content and technique of Cien anos (1950 through 1967), and an overlapping seventeen years projecting the eventual El otono del patriarca (1958 through 1975).

Five years before the publication of Otono, Garcia Marquez revealed the novel's governing principle, which be later reaffirmed in El olor de la guayaba: the solitary dictator whose life and death form the nucleus of the novel's plot is in fact another face of the coronel Aureliano Buendia. The author told Suzanne Jill Levine in 1970 that the dictator is what Aureliano Buendia had the potential of becoming, "alcanzando el poder en vez de renunciar a el" (qtd. in Janes 32); in other words, who the colonel would have been if he had won his thirty-two civil wars. As the author himself has pointed out to Plinio Apuleyo Mendoza, in Cien anos, the general Moncada had predicted that Aureliano Buendia would become "el dictador mas despotico y sanguinario de nuestra historia" (Olor 105). Garcia Marquez adds: "En un momento dado, escribiendo la novela [Cien anos], tuve la tentacion de que el coronel se tomara el poder. De haber sido asi, en vez de Cien anos de soledad habria escrito El otono del patriarca" (Olor 105). Thus, the protagonist of the 1975 novel, the alternate face of the protagonist of the 1967 novel, is another incarnation of the protagonist projected back in 1950.

El otono del patriarca--like La hojarasca--is a long series of juxtaposed and intercalated monologues; unlike the earlier novel, however, the narrative voices are more difficult to distinguish. The story is conveyed through two main points of focalization: that of the aging patriarch, who, wandering through his palace now populated by cows, lepers, vultures, and overgrown vegetation, tries to recover the memory of his regime and his personal life, and that of the citizens, narrating as "nosotros," who finally venture into the palace and discover the patriarch's corpse. Besides these two first-person perspectives, other "yo" voices occasionally intrude, presenting a citizen's or a cohort's reaction to an incident narrated primarily by the patriarch. Each of the book's six chapters begins in a narrative style reminiscent of "realist" fiction, as Raymond Williams has pointed out (Garcia Marquez 119), although the material narrated is already hyperbolic and mythologized. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.