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This content is taken from the University of Los Andes's online course, Reading Macondo: the Works of Gabriel García Márquez. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 35 seconds This course is devoted to the literary work of Gabriel García Márquez and will examine his books from Leaf Storm which appeared in 1955, to One Hundred Years of Solitude, published in 1967. The analysis is divided

Skip to 0 minutes and 54 seconds into five fundamental parts: The first part involves actually reading the books. The important thing here is that during this initial phase you enjoy the experience of reading one of the most brilliant writers in the Spanish language, who has even been compared to Cervantes. To enjoy his books you have to give yourself up to their storylines and you must understand the way the characters are drawn and the places described. The early novellas, such as Leaf Storm

Skip to 1 minute and 35 seconds or No One Writes to the Colonel are short: between 80 and 100 pages. Only after looking at these will we turn to somewhat longer books like In Evil Hour and One Hundred Years of Solitude, which stretch to some 300 or 350 pages and therefore demand more care from the reader. The point with any course on literature,

Skip to 1 minute and 57 seconds though, is this: Before you start analysing a literary work, simply enjoy it. The second part of the course focuses on the life of Gabriel García Márquez. An examination of the life of an author as part of a literary analysis is just another way of carrying out that analysis. Information on an author’s life is important inasmuch as it helps us understand that the young man who wrote Leaf Storm in 1955 is very different to the established author who produced One Hundred Years of Solitude in 1967. Nor is he the same author who published The General in His Labyrinth in 1989. Biographical details are important because they provide context.

Skip to 2 minutes and 48 seconds They allow us to understand, for example, that when he wrote some of his books García Márquez was living in Bogotá, that for some, he was in Mexico and for others, in Paris. Students will have access to links and a complete armoury of multimedia resources that we have prepared to illustrate the author’s personal life.

Skip to 3 minutes and 14 seconds But don’t forget: Never confuse the life of the author with the work of the novelist. The third part of the course is dedicated to studying the language Gabriel García Márquez uses in his books. Here we will examine, for example, problems such as the fact that some passages of his books are written in the language of the street and others in the sophisticated register of high culture. We shall also have the opportunity to observe the way in which landscapes and characters are described. We’ll look at the way he uses adjectives, for example, or the almost total absence of adverbs.

Skip to 3 minutes and 58 seconds In general, in these modules, we will draw attention to the fact that in every case, the literary works are artefacts, constructed out of words, and that the words chosen for the purpose - and the register in which they are used - are fundamental to the story they tell. The last two parts of the course examine the treatment given to space and time in these books. It is impossible to separate these two aspects aspects in the writings of García Márquez and if we appear to do so in our analysis, it is only for methodological reasons. One way to analyse the question of space is to trace or examine the symbolic role played by physical spaces in the books.

Skip to 4 minutes and 53 seconds In a novel such as In Evil Hour, the higher echelons of society are clearly presented a geographical space with other privileged people, in contrast to those from below who don’t have access even to the most basic things. There is another example of this in Leaf Storm when the Colonel takes Meme by the arm, walks her the length of the church and deposits her at the entrance. This illustrates how the character performs an action that is decisive to the novella, in a particular place.

Skip to 5 minutes and 37 seconds A last example that is interesting to examine concerns the closing pages of One Hundred Years of Solitude, when an apocalyptic wind is sweeping away everything in the metonymic place that is Macondo and when the wind in some way announces the end of the novel. When we turn to examine the category of time in the books, it is important, first, to be aware that time cannot be separated from space. Studying time might imply, for example, looking at the period of time during which the books take place. Everything in Leaf Storm, for example, occurs within 30 or 40 minutes. No One Writes to the Colonel covers a period of about three months.

Skip to 6 minutes and 36 seconds In Evil Hour occupies the period of a truce during a war. Another way of looking at the category of time is to examine chronological presentation for example, in the generational sweep of One Hundred Years of Solitude. Yet another way to examine the question of time relates to the role played by mythical time, as in the first appearance of Macondo or the apocalypse that occurs at the end of One Hundred Years of Solitude. But, first and foremost, this course invites you to simply enjoy your reading!

Course introduction

This course examines the narrative contribution made by Gabriel García Márquez to world literature. In order to build an understanding of the way his work evolved over time, we shall examine the following literary works:

Leaf Storm (1955)
No One Writes to the Colonel (1961)
Big Mama’s Funeral (1962)
In Evil Hour (1962)
One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967)

These literary works are examined through the lens of the following fundamental aspects:

  1. Reading the books themselves
  2. A brief look at the author’s life
  3. Language and structure
  4. Space and its functions
  5. The multiple dimensions of time

By studying these five books, we hope to achieve the following objectives:

  • Encourage interest in the work of Gabriel García Márquez and understand its evolution.
  • Identify some of the central elements of García Márquez’ literary production.
  • Develop the capacity to understand the connections between his different books.

We invite you, during the course, to read all the works we will be analysing. We suggest you start reading One Hundred Years of Solitude at the beginning and continue with it in parallel with the other books as we examine them.

Please feel free to visit the timeline we have created in collaboration with Caracol TV, which granted a non-exclusive license for use of the documentary “Gabo, the Magic of Reality”, produced by JWProductions, Ronachan Films, Horne Productions, Caracol Televisión, Discovery, CANAL + and Gebrueder beetz Film Production.

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Reading Macondo: the Works of Gabriel García Márquez

University of Los Andes

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