REGINA JANES


Liberals, Conservatives, and Bananas:
Colombian Politics in the Fictions
of Gabriel García Márquez

García Márquez once remarked that the reader of Cien años de soledad who was not familiar with the history of his country, Colombia, might appreciate the novel as a good novel, but much of what happens in it would make no sense to him. Such a reader is in danger of giving to the author's inventiveness what belongs to reality's own absurdity and the author's gift for perceiving, selecting, and heightening the impossible fact. The danger is García Márquez's own fault. Solitude and the operation of the imagination on life are the obsessions of his fiction, and neither is intrinsically political or social. The reader accustomed to García Márquez's smudging the line between the possible and the impossible can locate himself more or less comfortably and correctly when the references are to universal history or human psychology, but if he misses the specific historical allusions, he misses the intersection of the imagined and the real in the realm of the political where men meet to struggle for power. Cien años de soledad, with which we will be principally but not exclusively concerned, integrates personal obsessions, literary allusion, and political interpretation in a "total" novel, a kind of which Vargas Llosa has usefully remarked, "The novelist creates from something; the total novelist, that voracious being, creates from everything."

It took García Márquez some time to discover how to integrate the political with everything else. In his earlier works, political issues are either allegorized or serve as an indistinct backdrop against which a conflict between characters or within a character is enacted. In Cien años de sole-

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From Hispanofila no. 82 ( September 1984). © 1984 by Regina Janes.

-125-

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