Phi Fic #29 (Part 1 of 2) One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

…time was not passing…it was turning in a circle…

-One Hundred Years of Solitude

In this episode we discuss the classic Latin American novel by Gabriel Garcia Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude. which has been described by the scholar Robery Keily in the New York Times, as a “book [of] history, not of governments or of formal institutions of the sort which keeps public records, but of a people who, like the earliest descendants of Abraham, are best understood in terms of their relationship to a single family. . .”

This remarkable story follows seven generations of the Buendia family living and growing in the fictional town of Macondo founded by the family’s patriarch, José Arcadio Buendía, when he had a dream about a city of mirrors. After discovering that the earth is actually round, José Arcadio, a brilliant, relentless seeker of knowledge, ends up going insane and is tied to a chestnut tree in the back of the house for years, until his death. His wife, Ursula, the family matriarch, lives to over 100 and oversees the herculean proliferation of the Buendia generations and their relentlessly shocking and daunting lives. Among the Buendia legacies is her eldest son, Colonel Aureliano Buendía, who becomes a hero in the country’s civil war, her great granddaughter Remedios the Beauty whose looks are fatal to the men who follow her, her great grandson José Arcadio Segundo, who plays a major role in the strike against the local banana company and the only survivor after the company massacres all the strikers–and so many others, who we learn intimately about during this 100 year epoch.

This life-altering legend is about the failure of history, the uncertainty of memory, the circularity of time, loss, fortune, hope, the repetition of eras, ghosts, the fallibility of glass, mirrors, mirages and in the end, it is about—fatalism—when we learn that these one hundred years were fated, predetermined, and actually, occurred within one moment in time.

There is no single or even secondary plot—it is 100 years of lifetimes.

Before reaching the final line, however, he had already understood that he would never leave that room, for it was foreseen that the city of mirrors (or mirages) would be wiped out by the wind and exiled from the memory of men at the precise moment when Aureliano Babilonia would finish deciphering the parchments, and that everything written on them was unrepeatable since time immemorial and forever more, because races condemned to one hundred years of solitude did not have a second opportunity on earth.

-One Hundred Years of Solitude

Join Nathan, Laura, Cezary, Jennifer and Daniel in this Part One discussion as we swim through the towering waves of Márquez’ opus, following the insistence of William Kennedy from The NY Review of Books, “One Hundred Years of Solitude is the first piece of literature since the Book of Genesis that should be required reading for the entire human race. Mr. García Márquez has done nothing less than to create in the reader a sense of all that is profound, meaningful, and meaningless in life.”

When the novel was released in 1967, the response in Latin America was akin to Beatlemania in this country and when Marquez died in 2014, the country was in official mourning for three days.

Of note: Rodrigo García Barcha, Márquez’ son, has announced that Netflix is adapting a series based on One Hundred Years of Solitude, to be released in 2020.

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Thanks to Allan Bowley for audio assistance.
Thanks to Christopher Nolen for the music.