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Gabriel García Márquez Dies at 87

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dirac   

"Influential" doesn't really begin to do justice to the Marquez Effect. The only novelist since Hemingway with such a combination of popular and artistic impact, and I think he may well be the last of his kind. RIP.

Former US president Bill Clinton, García Márquez's personal friend, was quoted extolling his "great heart and brilliant mind". He added: "I was always amazed by his unique gifts of imagination, clarity of thought and emotional honesty."

Tributes were also paid by literary figures and by pop stars and actors – from across Latin America and the world.

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pherank   

For anyone wandering by, who has never read any of Márquez, here's the famous first sentence, and first paragraph of One Hundred Years of Solitude. The 1st sentence exhibits various time periods: an indeterminate present, the future, and distant past, and serves to establish one of the book's major themes...

Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice. At that time Macondo was a village of twenty adobe houses, built on the bank of a river of clear water that ran along a bed of polished stones, which were white and enormous, like prehistoric eggs. The world was so recent that many things lacked names, and in order to indicate them it was necessary to point. Every year during the month of March a family of ragged gypsies would set up their tents near the village, and with a great uproar of pipes and kettledrums they would display new inventions. First they brought the magnet. A heavy gypsy with an untamed beard and sparrow hands, who introduced himself as Melquíades, put on a bold public demonstration of what he himself called the eighth wonder of the learned alchemists of Macedonia. He went from house to house dragging two metal ingots and everybody was amazed to see pots, pans, tongs, and braziers tumble down from their places and beams creak from the desperation of nails and screws trying to emerge, and even objects that had been lost for a long time appeared from where they had been searched for most and went dragging along in turbulent confusion behind Melquíades' magical irons. "Things have a life of their own," the gypsy proclaimed with a harsh accent. "It's simply a matter of waking up their souls." José Arcadio Buendía, whose unbridled imagination always went beyond the genius of nature and even beyond miracles and magic, thought that it would be possible to make use of that useless invention to extract gold from the bowels of the earth. Melquíades, who was an honest man, warned him: "It won't work for that." But José Arcadio Buendía at that time did not believe in the honesty of gypsies, so he traded his mule and a pair of goats for the two magnetized ingots. Úrsula Iguarán, his wife, who relied on those animals to increase their poor domestic holdings, was unable to dissuade him. "Very soon we'll have gold enough and more to pave the floors of the house," her husband replied. For several months he worked hard to demonstrate the truth of his idea. He explored every inch of the region, even the riverbed, dragging the two iron ingots along and reciting Melquíades' incantation aloud. The only thing he succeeded in doing was to unearth a suit of fifteenth-century armor which had all of its pieces soldered together with rust and inside of which there was the hollow resonance of an enormous stone-filled gourd. When José Arcadio Buendía and the four men of his expedition managed to take the armor apart, they found inside a calcified skeleton with a copper locket containing a woman's hair around its neck.

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dirac   

One Hundred Years of Solitude is now no. 1 on Amazon.

Death is often good for a writer's sales figures. His press has been huge, which helps. Thanks for the quote, pherank.

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dirac   

Yes, they were good friends, and García Márquez was the creator of Havana's Film and Television School. He also interceded on occasion for dissidents. For thirty years he was denied a visa to the United States, partially because of his left-wing cooties but mainly because of the Castro connection, until President Clinton extended an invitation to him in 1995.

I cannot say I'm the biggest fan of magic realism as a genre, but One Hundred Years.... is a marvelous book.

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kfw   

I cannot say I'm the biggest fan of magic realism as a genre, but One Hundred Years.... is a marvelous book.

The first sentence hooks you, doesn't it? MR is not my favorite genre either, but I've read that one twice, plus Love in the Time of Cholera, and I'm happy to have recently read Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities, which I think must qualify.

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dirac   

He was a big man in every sense, cubanmiamiboy. That said, I can certainly understand why Reinaldo Arenas felt and said what he did on the subject.

The Autumn of the Patriarch is fascinating. I'm embarrassed to admit I've read no Calvino, only Gore Vidal's fine essay on his work.

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I am sure the views on how big or not Garcia Marquez was can be diferent. That said, I doubt that for some millions of Cubans who didn't care too much for the writer persona and just had the reference of him as the big fan, friend and supporter of their country's dictator, he won't be in the same values spot as some others.

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Yes, since my hi school days. I read "Cronica de una muerte anunciada", "Cien anos de soledad" y "El amor en los tiempos del colera". In the University we used to say "Macondo" when referring to the country instead of Cuba due to the surreal environment. I started disliking him and stopped reading his stuff once I started seeing him on TV with Castro.

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dirac   

I thought you must have done, but I was curious, since you didn't mention any of his writings. I envy you the ability to read him in the original. So much must be lost in translation.

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kfw   

I'm embarrassed to admit I've read no Calvino, only Gore Vidal's fine essay on his work.

You've obviously read a whole lot else. Invisible Cities is short and is composed of many short chapters. As with Marquez, the writing is beautiful and evocative.

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dirac   

An interview with his translator.

What do English speakers miss by reading García Márquez’s work in English? What is lost in translation?

I try not to think about what is lost but what is gained. For the reader who doesn’t know Spanish, this is a chance to read books that otherwise would be out of reach; for English, translation adds to the expressive capability of the language by introducing elements that might not have been there otherwise.

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dirac   

Jon Lee Anderson's 1999 profile for The New Yorker (summary only; full article available online only to subscribers).

Garcia Marquez’s views have enormous weight in Latin America. His prestige is such that he has the trust of both governments and revolutionaries... He recently established the Foundation for New Ibero-American Journalism in Cartagena. The town is a so-called safe haven for tourists... Cartagena has also become his large family’s de-facto headquarters. He is the eldest of eleven children, all but one of whom are still alive. His ninety-four-year-old mother and most of his siblings still live along the coast. Tells about his childhood years in the town of Aracataca, which writer visits... Mentions its role in the writing of “One Hundred Years of Solitude”.

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