García Márquez: The Man and His Work first came out in 1990. In the intervening years, I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the warm reception it initially drew and then continued to receive, both in and outside of the academy. Besides being awarded a Latin American Studies prize and garnering special journal citations shortly after its appearance, it has also gone through a number of reprintings. In addition, the book still prompts appreciative notes from total strangers—students, teachers, journalists, editors, and general readers— who, from their desks somewhere in the Americas, Eastern Europe, or the Middle East, write to me with their casual queries and observations about the Colombian master. Not a few of those communications, interestingly enough, have come from scientists or medical doctors.
There have been some memorable moments. In one dramatic instance, I was sitting in my office sometime in the early 1990s. The phone rang; I answered; the fellow on the other end identified himself as a heart surgeon in Tennessee who urgently wished to discuss with me Love in the Time of Cholera, notably my interpretation of the tragic affair between Florentino Ariza and América Vicuña. Equally moving have been the missives from secondary school teachers (notably Janis Myers in Spencer, Iowa) who have expressed to me their thanks for my book, at times with co-signatures from their students. And the volume was a decisive factor in my being invited to serve as an advisor for Oprah’s Book Club during its choice of One Hundred Years of Solitude in early 2004.
Since I finished composing the volume in 1988, García Márquez has published three more novels, a one-act play, a new collection of short stories, a book-length work of investigative journalism, and his personal memoirs. The time is thus long overdue for a second edition of my study, now with added, in-depth discussions of the later writings. In the process of working on the new edition, my re-experiencing those recent opuses—savoring their intricate beauties and delving into the complex sources that shaped them—has proved to be a scholar’s boon and a constant reader’s delight. Moreover, my initial chapters on “Backgrounds” have needed some detailed updating in the light of subsequent developments in García Márquez’s life as a public figure, in our very knowledge of the man (as exemplified in masterful biographies by Dasso Saldívar and, more recently, Gerald Martin), and in the larger, everchanging world itself.