LOIS PARKINSON ZAMORA


The Myth of Apocalypse
and Human Temporality in García Márquez's
Cien años de soledad and
El otoño del patriarca

For all our days are passed away in Thy wrath: we spend our years as a tale that is told.

Psalm 90:9

The novels of Gabriel García Márquez are extended considerations of temporal reality, of the beginnings and ends of human beings and humanity. García Márquez's perspective is mythical and eschatological: he looks forward in time to create fictions of a future—a future that embodies the potential of past and present. Time is neither aimless nor endless: it is successive and purposeful, moving toward a meaningful end. It is this end that makes time finite and comprehensible, giving significance and shape to our temporal existence. Time unpunctuated by endings is intolerable: we need fictions of succession and ending to humanize time and deliver us, as Frank Kermode says [in The Sense of an Ending], "from the long meaningless attrition of time." The history of Macondo, presented whole by García Márquez in Cien años de soledad ( 1967), is a monumental fiction of succession and ending, a fiction of temporal fulfillment. Origin and ending are harmonized, temporal coherence is imposed by the comprehensive apocalyptic perspective of Melquíades's narrative. In El otoño del patriarca ( 1975), the apocalypse is political. Moral and social degeneration becomes a function of the political travesties of the general in the novel, his dictatorship an image of the last loosing of Satan, his prolonged

____________________
From Symposium 32, no. 1 ( Spring 1978). © 1978 by Syracuse University Press.

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