The Novelist of Love
It was only when he was in his late fifties that García Márquez came to be regarded as one of the great writers of romantic love. While Caribbean magic and politics stand out as the subjects most commonly associated with his art, the truth is also that few novelists have written as wisely and in such full depth about that banal yet elusive world of male-female attraction, courtship, and love, with all its attendant pleasures and frustrations, its commitments and ambivalences, its private certainties and public prejudices, its erotic force and everyday suppressions, its subjective, complex subtleties and objective, simplifying ritualizations, its expectations and surprises, and its entire ensemble of ups and downs—its vastly contradictory textures—as has the Colombian novelist. Love in García Márquez’s fiction is as it is in real life: both fearsome and joyous, all-consuming yet creative, ecstatic and serene, glorious yet somehow sad and funny as well.
The interest had long been with him. Some of García Márquez’s most imaginative and touching early articles tell of lovers reunited after undergoing many trials, or of the ways in which the telephone has transformed old courtship habits (OP, 1:684 and 702). Commenting in February 1955 on the romance that had blossomed between renowned bullfighter Dominguín and an Italian beauty (who had written the Spaniard one of those innocent fan letters, “filled with the expressive and nonsensical foolishness of love”), the young journalist would conclude his brief column with the wry observation that “love remains, through the end of time, more powerful than a [raging] bull” (OP, 2:971). These insights he was to include and develop in his magisterial “total” novels; One Hundred Years of Solitude is not only a town-and-family chronicle but also, as we saw earlier, a compendium of love stories; and The Autumn of the Patriarch anatomizes the tyrant’s erotic disorders and ill-fated love life as much as it does his political history. To his interviewer for Playboy, a jolly García Márquez characterized himself as “a nymphomaniac of the heart.”1
The novella or short novel “The Incredible and Sad Tale of Innocent Erendira and Her Heartless Grandmother” depicts successively love for sale, young love, and love unrequited, all amid the desolate sands of the Guajira