RAYMOND WILLIAMS


The Autumn of the Patriarch

The publication of this novel about a dictator disappointed some of those readers who had associated García Márquez exclusively with the enchantment and accessibility of Macondo.It does not take place in Macondo and is more difficult to read than any of García Márquez's other novels. Judged strictly on its own intrinsic artistic merit, however, The Autumn of the Patriarch is a major book for both García Márquez and the field of the contemporary Latin American novel. It was one of several Latin American novels appearing in the 1970s dealing with a dictator.

The novel of the dictator is a venerable tradition in Latin America. The two best known initial novels of this type were Tirando Banderas ( 1926) by the Spaniard Ramón del Valle Inclán and El señor presidente ( 1946) by Miguel Angel Asturias.The decade of the 1970s saw the startling empowerment of military dictatorships in Latin America, particularly in the Southern Cone. As if by tacit agreement, major novelists, such as Alejo Carpentier, Augusto Roa Bastos, and García Márquez all published novels on dictators: Carpentier's Reasons of State appeared in 1974 and Roa Bastos's Yo el Supremo ( I, the Supreme) in the following year. García Márquez had begun his project at the end of a dictatorship that preceded these sanguine caudillos of the 1970s, that of Pérez Jiménez, ruler of Venezuela during the 1950s. Upon arriving in Caracas from Europe in 1958, García Márquez witnessed the downfall of Pérez Jiménez and the concurrent spectacle created by the outburst of a national celebration in Venezuela.The figure of Pérez Jiménez, nevertheless, was just a point of departure. García Márquez began reading histories of dictators, books containing historical anecdotes that can make the most fantastic Latin

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From Gabriel García Márquez. © 1984 by G. K. Hall & Co., Boston.

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