Gabriel García Márquez

Gabriel José de la Concordia García Márquez is a Colombian novelist, short-story writer, screenwriter and journalist, known affectionately as Gabo throughout Latin America. He is considered one of the most significant authors of the 20th century. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1982, and is the earliest winner of this prize to be still alive. He pursued a self-directed education that resulted in his leaving law school for a career in journalism. From early on, he showed no inhibitions in his criticism of Colombian and foreign politics. In 1958, he married Mercedes Barcha; they have two sons, Rodrigo and Gonzalo.

He started as a journalist, and has written many acclaimed non-fiction works and short stories, but is best-known for his novels, such as One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967) and Love in the Time of Cholera (1985). His works have achieved significant critical acclaim and widespread commercial success, most notably for popularizing a literary style labeled as magical realism, which uses magical elements and events in otherwise ordinary and realistic situations. Some of his works are set in a fictional village called Macondo, and most of them express the theme of solitude.

Gabriel García Márquez was born on March 6, 1927 in the town of Aracataca, Colombia, to Gabriel Eligio García and Luisa Santiaga Márquez. Soon after García Márquez was born, his father became a pharmacist. In January 1929, his parents moved to Sucre  while García Marquez stayed in Aracataca. He was raised by his maternal grandparents, Doña Tranquilina Iguarán and Colonel Nicolás Ricardo Márquez Mejía. When he was nine, his grandfather died, and he moved to his parents’ home in Sucre where his father owned a pharmacy.

When his parents fell in love, their relationship met with resistance from Luisa Santiaga Marquez’s father, the Colonel. Gabriel Eligio García was not the man the Colonel had envisioned winning the heart of his daughter: he (Gabriel Eligio) was a Conservative, and had the reputation of being a womanizer. Gabriel Eligio wooed Luisa with violin serenades, love poems, countless letters, and even telegraph messages after her father sent her away with the intention of separating the young couple. Her parents tried everything to get rid of the man, but he kept coming back, and it was obvious their daughter was committed to him. Her family finally capitulated and gave her permission to marry him. (The tragicomic story of their courtship would later be adapted and recast as Love in the Time of Cholera).

Since García Márquez’s parents were more or less strangers to him for the first few years of his life, his grandparents influenced his early development very strongly. His grandfather, whom he called “Papalelo”,wa s a Liberal veteran of the Thousand Days War. The Colonel was considered a hero by Colombian Liberals and was highly respected. He was well-known for his refusal to remain silent about the banana massacres that took place the year García Márquez was born. The Colonel, whom García Márquez has described as his “umbilical cord with history and reality”, was also an excellent storyteller. He taught García Márquez lessons from the dictionary, took him to the circus each year, and was the first to introduce his grandson to ice—a “miracle” found at the United Fruit Company store. He would also occasionally tell his young grandson “You can’t imagine how much a dead man weighs”, reminding him that there was no greater burden than to have killed a man, a lesson that García Márquez would later integrate into his novels.

García Márquez’s political and ideological views were shaped by his grandfather’s stories. In an interview, García Márquez told his friend Plinio Apuleyo Mendoza, “my grandfather the Colonel was a Liberal. My political ideas probably came from him to begin with because, instead of telling me fairy tales when I was young, he would regale me with horrifying accounts of the last civil war that free-thinkers and anti-clerics waged against the Conservative government.” This influenced his political views and his literary technique so that “in the same way that his writing career initially took shape in conscious opposition to the Colombian literary status quo, García Márquez’s socialist and anti-imperialist views are in principled opposition to the global status quo dominated by the United States”.

García Márquez’s grandmother, Doña Tranquilina Iguarán Cotes, played an equally influential role in his upbringing. He was inspired by the way she “treated the extraordinary as something perfectly natural.” The house was filled with stories of ghosts and premonitions, omens and portents, all of which were studiously ignored by her husband. According to García Márquez she was “the source of the magical, superstitious and supernatural view of reality”. He enjoyed his grandmother’s unique way of telling stories. No matter how fantastic or improbable her statements, she always delivered them as if they were the irrefutable truth. It was a deadpan style that, some thirty years later, heavily influenced her grandson’s most popular novel, One Hundred Years of Solitude

After writing One Hundred Years of Solitude García Márquez returned to Europe, this time bringing along his family, to live in Barcelona, Spain for seven years. The international recognition García Márquez earned with the publication of the novel led to his ability to act as a facilitator in several negotiations between the Colombian government and the guerrillas, including the former19th of April Movement (M-19), and the current FARC and ELN organizations.[48][49] The popularity of his writing also led to friendships with powerful leaders, including one with former Cuban president Fidel Castro, which has been analyzed in Gabo and Fidel: Portrait of a Friendship. It was during this time that he was punched in the face by Mario Vargas Llosa in what became one of the largest feuds in modern literature. In an interview with Claudia Dreifus in 1982 García Márquez notes his relationship with Castro is mostly based on literature: “Ours is an intellectual friendship. It may not be widely known that Fidel is a very cultured man. When we’re together, we talk a great deal about literature.” This relationship was criticized by Cuban exile writerReinaldo Arenas, in his 1992 memoir Antes que anocheza (Before Night Falls).

Also due to his newfound fame and his outspoken views on U.S. imperialism he was labeled as a subversive and for many years was denied visas by U.S. immigration authorities. However, after Bill Clinton was elected U.S. president, he finally lifted the travel ban and claimed that García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude was his favorite novel. There is a street in East Los Angeles, CA bearing his name.

While there are certain aspects readers can almost always expect in García Márquez’s writing, like instances of humour, he does not stick to any clear and predetermined style template. In an interview with Marlise Simons, García Márquez noted:

In every book I try to make a different path [...]. One doesn’t choose the style. You can investigate and try to discover what the best style would be for a theme. But the style is determined by the subject, by the mood of the times. If you try to use something that is not suitable, it just won’t work. Then the critics build theories around that and they see things I hadn’t seen. I only respond to our way of life, the life of the Caribbean.

García Márquez is also noted for leaving out seemingly important details and events so the reader is forced into a more participatory role in the story development. For example, in No One Writes to the Colonel, the main characters are not given names. This practice is influenced by Greek tragedies, such as Antigone and Oedipus Rex, in which important events occur off-stage and are left to the audience’s imagination.

In 1982, García Márquez received the Nobel Prize in Literature “for his novels and short stories, in which the fantastic and the realistic are combined in a richly composed world of imagination, reflecting a continent’s life and conflicts”. His acceptance speech was entitled “Solitude of Latin America”. García Márquez was the first Colombian and fourth Latin American to win a Nobel Prize for Literature. After becoming a Nobel laureate, García Márquez stated to a correspondent: “I have the impression that in giving me the prize they have taken into account the literature of the sub-continent and have awarded me as a way of awarding all of this literature.

Edited from Wikipedia

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