Magazine article The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education

Gabriel García Márquez

Magazine article The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education

Gabriel García Márquez

Article excerpt

On April 17,2014, one of the most renowned Latin American authors of the 20th century died in Mexico. Gabriel García Márquez was 87 years old. Born in Colombia, his parents wanted him to be a lawyer but he always wanted to write. Acquiescing to their wishes, he enrolled in law school. It did not last long; he quit and became a working journalist. A crusading journalist one might say. He worked in several Latin American and European countries for many years. Affectionately known as Gabo, he was respected from the very beginning, first as a journalist and later for his novels and short stories. He was widely recognized as one of Latin America's literary giants.

With his keen eye for corruption and encroaching imperialism, and armed with a sharp pen, he wrote many acclaimed nonfiction works. Some readers only saw his political views and missed his artistry. His short stories and novels, particularly One Hundred Years of Solitude, The Autumn of the Patriarch and Love in the Time of Cholera, earned him critical recognition and commercial success worldwide.

During his lifetime he received many literary awards. Notable among them was the Neustadt International Prize for Literature in 1972 and the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1982. The Nobel committee described his work as a genre "in which the fantastic and the realistic are combined in a richly composed world of imagination.''

He was a master storyteller with an incredible imagination. He helped popularize the emerging vivid literary style known as "magic realism." Therein he employed "magical elements and events in otherwise ordinary and realistic situations."

He also was noted for invariably returning time and time again to explore the theme of solitude, a seminal characteristic he felt all humans share.


García Márquez's father, a pharmacist, moved to Barranquilla with his wife and left a very young García Márquez in care of his maternal grandparents. His years with them were among his happiest and provided much fodder for his writing.

Many of his stories occur in the fictional village of Macondo loosely based on his native hometown.

He believed every day offered a new beginning. As he wrote he, "allowed himself to be swayed by his conviction that human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but that life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves."

García Márquez's political views were shaped by his grandfather's stories. He recalled "my grandfather the Colonel was a Liberal. My political ideas probably came from him to begin with because, instead of telling me fairy tales when I was young, he would regale me with horrifying accounts of the last civil war that free-thinkers and anti-clerics waged against the Conservative government."

His grandmother was no less influential in his development. He was fascinated how she "treated the extraordinary as something perfectly natural." His time with her was filled with stories of ghosts and premonitions, omens and portents. All of which were steadfastly ignored by the colonel. According to García Márquez his grandmother was "the source of the magical, superstitious and supernatural view of reality." He enjoyed her vivid unique way of tellingstories. "No matter how fantastic or improbable her statements, she always delivered them as if they were the irrefutable truth."

That deadpan style, some 30 years later, heavily influenced her grandson's most popular novel: One Hundred Years of Solitude.

From the very beginning, García Márquez's socialist and anti-imperialist views made him a hero among some and a pariah to others. At times he had difficulty securing a visa to visit the United States. President William Clinton, longa fan of Solitude changed that by lifting the restriction.

For years he had wanted to visit the southern part of the United States because he had been inspired by the writings of William Faulkner whom he admired. …

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