Life,  Read

Unveiling the Magic: The Life and Legacy of Gabriel García Márquez

On March 6, 1927, García Márquez was born in a remote seaside town in Colombia. Many years later, he would become the most outstanding writer of an era. His masterpiece “One Hundred Years of Solitude” “sold like hot sausages”, and he himself became a representative figure of the “magic realism” style.

The New York Times commented: “One Hundred Years of Solitude is the first literary masterpiece worthy of being read by all mankind after Genesis.” For a writer, this is probably the greatest praise and honor.

Today is the 97th birthday of Marquez. I hope that the following article can help you eliminate your fear of fame, introduce you to the lovely “old horse”, and give you the courage to start reading about him. After all, the way to commemorate a writer’s work is to continue to read him.

01 Literature is one of the best ways of human existence

Today we are going to read the novel “Love in the Time of Cholera” by Colombian writer Marquez.

This novel was published in 1985. Before that, in 1982, Marquez won the Nobel Prize for Literature. The winning work was the novel One Hundred Years of Solitude.

“One Hundred Years of Solitude” is a work that we Chinese readers are particularly familiar with, especially the beginning of this work, which is a famous line that almost every writer can recite: “Many years later, facing the execution team, Aureliano Boone Colonel Dia will definitely think of that distant afternoon when his father took him to see the ice.” Critics praised Marquez for writing the circularity of time, expressing the involution of closure and loneliness in the circularity.

However, for Marquez, this is actually a particularly realistic way of writing, which comes entirely from his childhood memories.
He himself explained that the initial image at the beginning of “One Hundred Years of Solitude” is an old man taking his children to see ice cubes. Marquez said:
This image comes from a moment when my grandfather took me to see a dromedary in the circus. In Aracataca, where we lived, I had no chance to see ice at all at that time. The Executive Board of the Banana Company once received some kind of frozen snapper. I was struck by those red snappers that looked like rocks, so I asked my grandfather. My grandfather, who always had to explain everything to me, said they were frozen, that’s why they looked like rocks.

I asked him what ‘frozen’ meant, and he took me by the hand, took me to the committee, and asked them to open a box of frozen snappers, and I saw ice. When deciding between the dromedary and ice, I naturally tended to favor ice, because from a literary standpoint, it is more evocative. Now, it seems incredible that One Hundred Years of Solitude started with such a simple image.

This makes people admire Marquez’s literary genius: his mysterious imagination strangely guided him to write the history of Colombia, a country that has been colonized for hundreds of years, and the Colombian people, starting from a small ice cube. The painful changes between people and within the family are summarized as “loneliness” in the national memory in the grand narrative. This book established Marquez’s historical status as a great writer. The New York Times commented: “One Hundred Years of Solitude is the first literary masterpiece after “Genesis” that is worthy of being read by all mankind.” This evaluation can be said to be unparalleled.

What deserves the attention of readers around the world is Marquez’s literary career. He is a pure writer who truly relies on literature to build his life and uses literature to give mankind magnificent imagination. His life is a banner of literary originality, both magical and full of the power of realism.

What kind of life is most worth living? Marquez’s legendary life proves that literature is one of the most beautiful ways of human existence. His 87-year poetic journey is a big book, providing a perfect spiritual experience for literary readers around the world.

02 All of Marquez’s novels come from that encounter

Gabriel García Márquez was born in Aracataca, Colombia on March 6, 1927. This is a very remote seaside town in the northeastern corner of Colombia, adjacent to Venezuela. Colombia as a whole covers an area of ​​more than 400,000 square kilometers, almost as big as more than four Jiangsu provinces, and now has a population of nearly 50 million.

Its southernmost point is on the equator, with the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the west. In the northwest of Colombia, especially in the west, near the Pacific Ocean, there are many mountains with many valleys in the mountains. The altitude is between 1,000 meters and 2,000 meters, and the climate is pleasant. The southern part of Colombia is lush, the temperature is very high, the tropical rainforest is endless, and the damp dead branches and leaves smell of rot, making it not suitable for human habitation, so there are relatively few people.

The valleys in the north and west are home to many towns with many residents. This place was originally inhabited by Indians. After 1492, Columbus discovered America during the Age of Discovery, and a large number of colonists followed. These immigrants, mainly from Europe, had technological and equipment advantages and brought unprecedented benefits to the area. The change is catastrophic in some ways. The Inca Empire in South America was a group of more than 50 million people.

But after the arrival of the Europeans, they turned South America into a resource extraction land, especially some rare resources that were exploited crazily. For example, there is a mountain in Bolivia called Potosi, and there is the city of Potosi at the foot of the mountain. This city was originally very famous. Around 1650, it already had 160,000 residents, making it one of the richest cities in the world at that time.

why? Because there is silver here and Europe does not produce silver, silver has become a rare thing. Colonists came in droves and mined the place completely. There used to be 5,000 mines in Potosi, but now they are all closed. There is also a mountain opposite Potosi called Huacasi, now known as the “Crying Mountain”. The name of this mountain sounds very sad. The city is now in a mess and desolate. In fact, this is also a symbol of the destiny of South America in a period.

Colombia was no exception and became a Spanish colony in 1536. After the colonists came, they established many settlements in the west and northwest, so there were also many industries here. A large number of people gathered here, and these lower-class people who came to the city had no money and no professional skills, so they could only work at the bottom. Entering the 19th century, Colombia launched independence movements one after another, and finally established the Republic of Colombia in 1819. Although it is independent, the transnational capital of the United States and the United Kingdom still monopolizes Colombia’s railways, oil, coffee, and banana cultivation, stealing excess profits and making the survival of Colombia’s bottom class even more difficult.

When Marquez was born, the small town of Aracataca was in the sunset of the banana industry. The American United Fruit Company had been operating here for nearly 20 years. The trains passed through the shaded banana plantations and the bustling streets were everywhere. He is a nouveau riche who spends money like water.

Marquez recalled:
In those days, I was really spending money like water. The dignitaries and wealthy businessmen watched naked women dancing cumbia while lighting fires and smoking cigarettes with banknotes. Legends such as these draw a swarm of adventurers and prostitutes to this remote town on Colombia’s northern coast.

When he was a child, Marquez often visited the United Fruit Company’s residence with his grandfather. “The company was surrounded by a barbed wire fence. Everything inside seemed very neat and cool, and the dust and scorching heat of the town were a bit away.” There is no trace of it. There is also a swimming pool with clear blue water, surrounded by small tables and large umbrellas for sun protection; the green grass seems to have been moved from Virginia; the girls are playing tennis on the grass: this is simply a scene. The world Fitzgerald writes has moved to the hinterland of the tropics. In the evening, those American girls took a car and went for a ride in the hot streets of Aracataca. They were still wearing the fashions of the 1920s, which was what people wore in the prosperous 20s. The kind of clothes you would wear in the corridors of Montparnasse or the Plaza Hotel in New York. The car’s top is removable. These girls are delicate and happy, wearing white transparent gauze clothes, sitting between two big wolfdogs. , seems not to be afraid of the heat.”

However, this was just the swan song when the torch burned out. When Marquez was young, American companies greedy to make quick money withdrew, and the town declined rapidly. “Many unfamiliar faces, tents set up on the avenue, people changing clothes in the street The violent storm composed of men, women sitting on cages with umbrellas open, and abandoned mules that starved to death in the hotel stables” is like a pile of “dead branches and leaves.”

Marquez and his mother walked through the town. “The station that used to be crowded with people and filled with colorful parasols is now dilapidated and there is no one left. The train left the mother and son in the dazzling silence of noon, with only the melancholy singing of cicadas.” The silence was broken from time to time. The train continued its journey, as if it had just passed through an illusory town. Everything seemed to be in ruins, an abandoned scene, everything was swallowed up by heat and forgetfulness. The old soil fell on On the old wooden house, it fell on the withered almond tree in the square. … The first girlfriend my mother met (she was sitting in front of a sewing machine in a dark corner of the room) did not recognize her at first sight. Come. The two women looked at each other, as if trying to recall the beautiful and charming appearance of their girlhood through their tired and aging appearances. The girlfriend’s voice was both surprise and sadness. “Sister!” She stood up and lost her voice. shouted. The two hugged tightly and cried loudly.”

This scene impressed Marquez so much that he later said: “My first novel was born from that time, inspired by that encounter.” This sentence is very important, and its true meaning is just like that of a A famous journalist said: “All of Marquez’s novels came from that encounter.”

03 “Damn it, how can you do this?”

Poverty has exacerbated political unrest in Colombia, with liberals and conservatives in the country at war. Marquez’s grandfather was a colonel in the liberal army, “respected by the people in the town. He only encountered one person in his life who dared to speak rudely to him, and he later shot this person to death. This strong man not only Political passions were raging, and his desire for women was so raging that there were dozens of illegitimate children in the whole town.”

Marquez lived with his energetic grandfather until he was 8 years old. As his parents moved to the town of Zinse near the port of Sucre River, in 1940, at the age of 13, he was sent to a famous middle school not far from the capital Bogota. His father had high expectations for him, hoping that he would become a socialite along the path of “first-class middle school” and “first-class university” and change the cultural disadvantage of never having a college student in his family.

Marquez’s father never imagined that his son would feel cold about this famous high school, which was completely “a monastery with no heating and no flowers” and was located in “a remote and desolate town 1,000 kilometers away from the sea.” “superior.

This is not because Marquez does not have the ability to live independently, but because the human and geographical environment has changed too much. The Aracataca area belongs to the Caribbean region with a maritime climate. The sun is bright and strong blues and greens can be seen everywhere. However, the area around Bogota is in the Andes Mountains, with clouds and mist, drizzle, and “a delicate gray and gloomy green” everywhere in the field of vision.

Marquez recalled: “There are also racial differences. The coastal residents are Andalusians of Spanish descent, African blacks and brave Caribbean Indians. They are straightforward and cheerful by nature, and are incompatible with artificiality. They do not put class and etiquette at all. In the eyes. They like to dance, and the music is always very cheerful, with African rhythms and the sound of percussion instruments. But the Colombians in the mountainous areas are very different. They maintain the rigidity and formality of the Castilians in central and western Spain. Characteristics include the taciturn and suspicious character of the Chibocha Indians; their conservatism and attention to etiquette are quiet, and even their humor is not easy to detect. Their polite manners often cover up their aggressive character, as long as Over a few glasses of wine, this tendency often reveals itself at the wrong time. Like the scenery that surrounds the Andean inhabitants, their music is poignant: it speaks of abandonment, separation, and lost love.”

For Marquez, a 13-year-old boy from the Caribbean coast, he “suddenly realized that he was going to have to live in this strange world. He looked at the desolate scene in the capital with shock and fear. The night was gradually closing. , the bell calling people to evening prayers rang. He looked directly at the gray streets in the rain through the small window of the taxi. The thought of living in this funereal atmosphere for several years made him really sad. It was unspeakably heavy. Thinking of this, he couldn’t help crying loudly, which puzzled the superintendent who came to pick him up at the station.”

Great changes in the environment are actually not a bad thing. There is a situation in human growth called “opposites complement each other.” The strong contrast in human geography made the young Marquez urgently need a spiritual channel to release his depression. He found literature, including Germany’s “The Magic Mountain”, France’s “The Three Musketeers” and “Notre Dame de Paris”, Britain’s “The Black Sailor on the Narcissus”… What was even more fortunate was that there was a “Dark Sailor” in Bogotá at that time. The “Stone and Sky” literary group, where are some rebellious literary youths, gave Marquez the free heat of the sun, allowing him to immerse himself in the sea of ​​literature and sail far away, out of control. Marquez later said gratefully: “If it hadn’t been for ‘The Stone and the Sky’, I really can’t say I would have become a writer.”

In 1947, at the age of 20, Marquez was admitted to the law major of the National University of Bogota. This is not because he loves law, but because of his parents’ expectations. A judge or lawyer has a high social status and can bring glory to the whole family.
This reluctant choice certainly did not make Marquez feel at ease. Others were in the law department, but they were living in the literature department:
My favorite pastime at that time was boarding a streetcar with blue windows on Sundays, which for five cents took me on a non-stop ride from Plaza de Bolivar to Calle de Chile. I spent those melancholy afternoons in the tram, afternoons that seemed to trail an endless tail of other idle Sundays.

And the only thing I did on this wild ride was read poetry, read poetry, read poetry! If I take a streetcar in the city, I might be able to read a section of poetry until the rain falls and the lights begin to turn on. Then, I ran around the silent cafes in the old city, looking for a kind and gentle man to accompany me to talk about the poems I had just read, those poems, those poems.

Suddenly one day, Marquez borrowed a copy of “The Metamorphosis” by the Austrian writer Franz Kafka from his classmates. As soon as he read the beginning, he was shocked: “One morning, Gregor Samsa was restless. I woke up from my sleep and found myself lying in bed transformed into a giant beetle.”

Such a simple sentence made Marquez “shiver” and exclaimed in his heart, “Damn it, how can you do this?” The next day, he wrote his first short story “The Third Time of Helplessness” for the first time, and from then on he completely turned to novel writing.

04 For the first time in the novel, a small town called “Macondo” appears.

This U-turn completely changed his lifestyle. “He was unkempt and always went to coffee shops with a book under his arm. He could stay in any place for the night, so he gave the impression of a wandering guy. However, this Now he no longer kept reading poems and poems, but novels and novels. He was completely obsessed with reading novels. First he read Dostoyevsky, and later Tolstoy and Dickens. , and then came the French writers of the last century, Flaubert, Stendhal, Balzac, and Zola.”

Such wandering days did not last long. In April 1948, serious riots broke out in Bogota. The house rented by Marquez was burned down and the University of Bogota was closed indefinitely. During the turmoil, he transferred to the University of Cartagena on the Caribbean coast of northern Colombia, where he wrote novels while studying and wrote daily reviews for Cartagena’s daily newspaper “Universo”.

Returning to the familiar shores of the Caribbean, his literary dream became more active. He soon met a group of literary young people in Barranquilla, an industrial city more than 100 kilometers away. These people established a “Baranski Literary Society”. Group”, passionate about modernist literature. In 1950, Marquez simply moved to Barranquilla, and while writing a daily column for the Herald, he began writing his first novel, “Dead Branches.”

This “Baranski Literary Group” had a great influence on Marquez. The members of the literary group are all very young guys who especially like drinking and have bold personalities. When they get together, they like to discuss the works of great writers, such as Joyce, Steinbeck, Caldwell, Dos Passos, Hemingway, Sherwood Anderson, Dreiser, Faulkner… and the venue for all this discussion was often a brothel!

Marquez misses these days very much:
For me, those years were a period of dazzling discovery not only in literature but also in life. We often got drunk and talked about literature until dawn. Every night, we would talk about at least 10 books that I had not read, and the next day, they would lend them to me, and they had everything. We also have a friend who owns a bookstore, and we often help him make book orders. Every time a box of books arrives from Buenos Aires, we celebrate.

In order to write, he stayed for a while in a cheap hotel “frequented by prostitutes.” Although it was cheap, he sometimes did not have enough money to stay overnight, so he gave the manuscript of the novel he was writing to the janitor as collateral. Marquez recalled: “The hotel was very big, and the partition walls of the rooms were made of cardboard, so all the secrets in the adjacent rooms could be heard clearly. I could identify the voices of many senior government officials, so that What touches me is that most of them come not to have fun but to pour out their hearts to their romantic partners.”

It was in this dilapidated hotel that Marquez read the novel “Mrs. Dalloway” by British female writer Virginia Woolf. For a moment, he felt that the clouds were clearing and the literary sky was clearer. Later he recalled fondly: “If I had not read this passage in Mrs. Dalloway when I was 20 years old, I might be a different person today.”

This is what Marquez said:
But, there is no doubt that the car is carrying a big shot: “The big shot passed Bond Street under cover, within arm’s reach of ordinary people; for perhaps the first and last time they were so close to the monarch of England, the immortal symbol of the country. By the time London was reduced to an overgrown road, the people who hurried along the sidewalks this Wednesday morning were all reduced to bones, a few wedding rings scattered among them, countless gold fillings in rotting teeth, curious artifacts It takes a scientist to dig through the ruins of time to figure out who was in the car.”

I remember reading this passage in a simple hotel room, enduring the scorching heat and blowing away mosquitoes. It completely changed my concept of time. Perhaps, it also enabled me to vaguely see the entire process of Macondo’s destruction in a flash and predict its final outcome. Besides, I wonder, isn’t it the distant origin of “Autumn of the Patriarch”? And this book describes the mystery of human power, loneliness and poverty.

Marquez once said that “The Autumn of the Patriarch” was the novel he felt he had written best, but he attributed this most beloved work to Virginia Woolf, and his admiration was beyond words.

The days of his youth were lived in such a hard and carefree way. In 1954, Marquez moved back to Bogotá and served as a staff writer for the Observer. In 1955, his novel “Dead Leaves” was published.

This novel has only about 90,000 words, but it is of great significance. For the first time in the novel, a small town called “Macondo” appears, which is a metaphor for his hometown of Aracataca. Since then, “Macondo” has become an iconic place name in Marquez’s novels and the place where the story of “One Hundred Years of Solitude” takes place. The omnipotence of the “Banana Company” in “Dead Leaves” and the lonely plight of three generations of the old colonel’s family are the epitome of the themes in Marquez’s later creations.

05 The secret key to Marquez’s “magical realism”

In 1955, Marquez’s life changed dramatically. As a staff writer for the Observer, he wrote a series of articles exposing the government’s malfeasance, which earned him a warning from the authoritarian government. He was forced to go abroad and go to Paris to serve as the Observer’s European correspondent.

The next year, “Observer” was closed down by the dictatorship, and the 29-year-old had to stay in Paris and continue to write in poverty. When he was at his poorest, he even collected all kinds of empty bottles and sold them to stores to barely make ends meet. His life after that could be described as a wandering life, moving like an exile in Eastern Europe, Venezuela, Cuba, the United States, Mexico, and Spain. In the meantime, he got married in 1959 and had a child.

Although his life was turbulent, he always maintained the vigorous creativity of a writer, and published novels one after another: the novel “Evil Hours” was published in 1959; the short story collection “The Funeral of Grandma Grande” and the novella were published in 1962 The novel “The Colonel to whom no one wrote”; he started writing “One Hundred Years of Solitude” in 1965 and published it in 1967; he published “The Story of a Shipwreck Survivor” in 1970; and he published the short story collection “Innocent Erendira” in 1973. “; “The Autumn of the Patriarch” was published in 1975; “A Murder that Was Publicized” in 1981; he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982; and “Love in the Time of Cholera” was published in 1985. Later, he also published a collection of short stories “A Happy Funeral in a Dream and Twelve Stories from a Foreign Land” and a play “The Abuse of Love for a Sitting Man”. After 1999, he published the first volume of his three-volume memoir “Living to Tell” and the novel “Memoirs of a Bitter Prostitute”.

This was extremely difficult because he was diagnosed with lymphoma in 1999 and underwent chemotherapy, which resulted in the loss of a large number of neurons in his brain. In addition, the Marquez family has a genetic history of Alzheimer’s disease, which made writing even more difficult. In January 2006, he announced that he would stop writing, but in 2010 he also edited and compiled a collection of speeches “I’m Not Here to Speak”.

What is particularly gratifying for Chinese readers is that in 2010, after two years of research on the Chinese market, the ill Marquez and his female publishing agent Carmen finally agreed to officially authorize China to publish the Chinese version of “One Hundred Years of Solitude”.

This sounds incredible, as it has been 43 years since the 1967 Spanish version. The reason is that Marquez visited China in 1990 and discovered that there were various unauthorized copies of “One Hundred Years of Solitude” and “Love in the Time of Cholera” in bookstores. This surprised and made him very angry, and he vowed “not to authorize China to publish his works, especially “One Hundred Years of Solitude” for 150 years after his death.”

This is really not a lie. After 1992, China officially joined the “Universal Copyright Convention”, and more than 100 Chinese publishing organizations applied for copyright to Marquez, but he refused to agree. It was not until 2008 that he was moved by the sincerity of Chinese publishers. After several inspections, he finally opened his heart to the Chinese publishing industry. His insistence on not authorizing for many years has greatly promoted China’s cause of safeguarding intellectual property rights. And his formal authorization is a huge support to the Chinese publishing industry.

Such a great writer passed away in Mexico City on April 18, 2014, but the gift he gave to the Chinese literary world in the last stage of his life makes us no longer just remember the “loneliness” he wrote, but also the gift he gave to the Chinese literary world. With his warm heart across the Pacific.

What strikes us most when we miss him is that South America is the place with the most developed “mixed economy” and “mixed culture”. He has extremely rich cultural factors: Spaniards, Indians, Europeans, Africans, Americans People, Mexicans…

He loves all spiritual flowers in human culture, and warmly praises the Jewish writer Kafka, the British writer Woolf, and the American writer Hemingway. His diverse and open literary heart grows brightly across the vast span. At the same time, he loves his cultural roots infinitely and will always protect the spiritual hometown of “Macondo”. This is especially valuable when the third world faces the strong cultures of Europe and America. His sentiments have a long history:
In Latin America we have always been taught that we are Spanish. On the one hand, this is true, since the Hispanic element forms an undeniable part of our cultural identity. However, I discovered during that trip to Angola that we are still Africans, or mixed-race.
Our culture is a mixed culture, developed richly by drawing on the strengths of others. It was then that I realized this. In my hometown, some cultural styles originate from Africa, which are very different from the culture of the indigenous peoples in the plateau area. In our Caribbean, African slaves merged with the fertile imaginations of pre-colonial Native Americans, and later with the whims of Andalusia and the worship of the supernatural in Galicia. This talent for depicting reality in a magical way originates from the Caribbean and Brazil.
It was there that a literature, a music, a painting like the work of Vifredo Lim emerged that were the aesthetic expression of that region. The Caribbean taught me to see reality from a different perspective, to see the supernatural as an integral part of our daily lives. The Caribbean is a world completely different from other places. Its first magical literary work is “The Diary of Christopher Columbus”, which describes various strange plants and mythical worlds.

Yes, the history of the Caribbean is full of magic. This magic was brought by black slaves from their African hometown, as well as by Swedish, Dutch and British pirates. These pirates could open an opera house in New Orleans and make ladies’ teeth studded with diamonds. The Caribbean is home to a diverse mix of people with great differences that you won’t find anywhere else in the world.

I am familiar with every island: there are mulatto women with skin as golden as honey, green eyes and yellow headscarves; there are Chinese people who wash clothes and sell amulets with mixed Indian blood; there are ivory shops they run. Green-skinned Indians who defecate in the middle of the street; dusty, sweltering towns with storm-proof huts on one side and skyscrapers with sun-shielded glass on the other; and seven A sea of ​​colors. Come on, I can’t stop talking about the Caribbean. Not only was it a world that taught me to write, it was the only place where I didn’t feel like a foreigner.

These words are the key to unlocking Marquez’s “magical realism”.

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