The Solitude of Latin America
Gabriel Garcia Marquez was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1982, fifteen years after the publication of his book One Hundred Years of Solitude. His speech accepting the Nobel Prize, lived up to his stature; a brilliant author and narrator seamlessnessly blending the real with the unreal, the ordinary and the magical. The speech offers glimpses into Marquez’s thoughts pertaining to Latin America, to his childhood and to humanity as a whole.
Marquez’s speech, akin to all his other works is embedded in his native land of Latin America, following the vicissitudes of life amongst the rampant corruption, destruction and anarchism. The speech at its core is a political statement to the Europeans and the Americans. Marquez outlines the ongoing political and economic crisis in Latin America; the widespread political unrest and anarchy, the lack of a stable government, poverty and underdevelopment- these have become the hallmarks of Latin America. The freedom from the Spanish has not resulted in freedom from the Latin American “Madness” ; with five wars and seventeen military coups; over two hundred thousand assassinations and millions of refugees. The tragedy of Latin America has been the lack of a coherent National Identity, without which there is only self-destruction not preservation. This is partly due to centuries of Spanish domination; but the continuous wars and coups have robbed the Colombian of the chance to forge a new identity for himself. This lack of an ideological identity leaves the Latin American feeling lost in the maze of the world; and only serves to accentuate the harsh reality of underdevelopment and poverty.
Some of the themes touched upon in his speech resonate in the book. Macondo is a fictional world created by Marquez as a vehicle for portraying the historical reality of Colombia and Latin America. The residents of Macondo develop and prosper only to be faced with destruction again and again. Latin American history is a projection of the same circumstances; ever so often a new leader comes with unbounded hope promising development and modernity only to be mercilessly assassinated, military coup after coup occurs with no one any longer caring to remember the latest despot sitting on the throne; this sense of inevitability pervades through the fabric of the novel. The seventeen military campaigns started by Colonel Aureliano Buendia in the book depict The Violence- The twenty year long struggle between conservatists and liberals for power. The protagonists are controlled by their pasts and the complexity of time. Throughout the novel the characters are visited by ghosts. "The ghosts are symbols of the past and the haunting nature it has over Macondo. The ghosts and the displaced repetition that they evoke are, in fact, firmly grounded in the particular development of Latin American history. Macondo and the Buendías always were ghosts to some extent, alienated and estranged from their own history, not only victims of the harsh reality of dependence and underdevelopment but also of the ideological illusions that haunt and reinforce such social conditions. The fate of Macondo is both doomed and predetermined from its very existence. Fatalism is a metaphor for the particular part that ideology has played in maintaining historical dependence, by locking the interpretation of Latin American history into certain patterns that deny alternative possibilities. The narrative seemingly confirms fatalism in order to illustrate the feeling of entrapment.
Time plays a very subtle and complex part in the whole plot. The history of Latin America although having a linear progression of time, also imparts a circular notion to it; primarily due to wars, more promises and then assassination. He reiterates the metaphor of history as a circular phenomenon through the repetition of names and characteristics belonging to the Buendia family. Over six generations, all the Jose...
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