Juvenilia & Apprenticeship
(A Brief Interlude)
A still-developing Shakespeare wrote as his first tragic play the amorphous and sensationalistic Titus Andronicus. Faulkner in his thirtieth year published his thoroughly uncharacteristic and weak second novel Mosquitoes. Many a great author-to-be serves a public apprenticeship in the craft and fashions early writings scarcely suggestive of forthcoming triumphs in the art. The early work remains available only inasmuch as the subsequent growth and output of the same individual will dramatically surpass and supersede those trial efforts. García Márquez is no exception in this regard, having in his first twelve years as a writer produced nearly a dozen stories and two full-length novels, whose chief attractions today are the name and then-inchoate spirit of their maker, as well as their various hints and auguries of the masterpieces that are to follow.
Ten of the stories garnered in the volume Ojos de perro azul (included as Part I, “Eyes of a Blue Dog,” in the English Collected Stories) were written by young Gabo between his nineteenth and twenty-fourth years. Another piece, “Monologue of Isabel Watching It Rain in Macondo,” is a preliminary draft for Leaf Storm and was probably originally destined to be inserted into chapter 8 of that novel. The short narratives were not officially compiled as a book until as late as 1974, and this only out of expediency, in a move to counter the numerous pirated editions of García Márquez’s work often issued by disreputable publishers throughout the Hispanic world.
Any readers minimally acquainted with a mature García Márquez, with his generous sense of humor and his loving eye for everyday life, will feel startled and disappointed at these stories. Brooding and morose, they deal overwhelmingly with death or isolation, and depict souls or bodies trapped in their respective graves or dreams. “The Third Resignation” gives us the musings of a young man buried in his tomb, “The Other Side of Death” the troubled thoughts of a surviving twin whose doppelgänger is about to be interred, and “Eva Is inside Her Cat” an account of a beautiful woman, tired of male attentions, who floats in an unspecified limbo, craves oranges, and