In our very modern and technological world, we spend more time reading abbreviate social media postings than delving into the captivating pages of a “good book.” However, long before the internet, cell phones, and IMAX theatres, the most beloved form of entertainment was reading. Words are a very powerful thing. They can elevate, inspire, and permanently effect their readers in ways that can stay with them their whole lives. If you ask people to name some of the most influential famous writers, authors, and novelists, modern society would likely give names like Charles Dickens, Hemingway, Samuel Clemens, and Stephen King. However, there are other amazing writers whose works were incredibly powerful and meaningful, but are often forgotten. Gabriel Garcia Marquez is one such novelist. Gabriel Garcia Marquez may be unfamiliar to many today, but his work has been internationally influential, recognized, and translated into multiple languages and continuous acclaim
Gabriel Garcia Marquez was born in Aracataca, Colombia on March 6, 1928. His youth was not extraordinary, in fact, it was quite humble; his father was a pharmacist, a postal clerk, and a telegraph operator who still struggled to support his wife and 12 children. He grew up listening to the tales of his parent’s young romance, his grandfather’s war stories, and tales of his heritage. All of these tales’ huge impact on the young Marquez was tangible. In school, he was introduced to the work of Franz Kafka’s novella “The Metamorphosis,” along with the work of William Faulkner who would become the driving force behind Marquez’s desire to become a writer (Sickels 1). He left college and entered the field of journalism. However, it is his creative works as a novelist that would bring him the greatest success and attention. In 1967 he published “Cien aos de soledad,” which translates to “One Hundred Years of Solitude,” produced reviews that celebrated that he brought “magical realism” to his fact based fiction. In fact, he received a Nobel Prize in Literature for his works in 1982. In 1985 he wrote a story he based on his parent’s youthful romance, titled “El Amor en Los Tiempos del cóleram,” or “Love in the Years of Cholera.” Most recently, in 2002, he wrote his personal memoir, called “Vivir para contarla,” or “Living to Tell the Tale,” which was well received by fans and critics alike. (Biography Channel 1).
Gabriel Garcia Marquez captured the “magical realism” that made his work so vivid and sincere that it continues to receive acclaim in literary circles with each generation that is introduced to his work. The “magical realism” allowed him to intermix his characters within a realm that is both present and miraculous all at the same time;’ it also incorporated mythology and ideologies of his native culture. Marquez’s inspirations for his work are, again, the stories of his own life and the lives of those he loved. He, also, was well-aware of the political strife and violence that often erupted in the unstable Colombia of his youth. He said the genre he is credited with developing he said, “…sprang from Latin America’s history of vicious dictators and romantic revolutionaries, of long years of hunger, illness, and violence” (qtd. in Sickels 2). Marquez’s work was inspirational to other writers and was popular all over the world. One of his more famous and certainly controversial friends and fans was Fidel Castro, the Cuban dictator; the close friendship they shared included Marquez sharing his manuscripts with him before they were published. The famous Chilean poet Pablo Neruda referred to Marquez’s work as the best thing to be created in Spanish literature since “Don Quixote.” And the novelist William Kennedy actually compared it to the Biblical book of Genesis in its newness, freshness, and potential literary impact (Sickels 2).
Marques said, “…reality is also the myths of the common people” (qtd. in Sickles 1-2). He was known to be a huge advocate of the plight of the common man, the poor, the often overlooked, and brought them out of cultural obscurity and into the light. He was a writer of great talent, but, also, a man of very strong opinions. In 1973, after the fall of Colombia’s Marxist President and the rise of General Pinochet, Marques declared that he would not write a single word as long as the General was allowed to remain in power. However, after his anger subsided he realized that he should not allow this dictator to silence his voice and words, which would be more powerful than any vow of literary silence that he could take; he admitted he overreacted and continued to right long before General Pinochet’s 17 year rule as leader came to an end. Throughout his career, Marquez would remain respected and successful, but it is also his staunch views on the political strife of Latin countries would always be associated with his name (Kandell 1).
In 1999 Marquez was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and in 2012 he became afflicted with senile dementia, which ended his writing career. Sadly one month ago, on April 17, 2014, Marquez passed away peacefully in his home in Mexico City, Mexico at the age of 87 (Kandell 1). Marquez lived a long, successful, and influential life, his work touched millions and his contributions to literature should remain relevant when discussing the finest examples of literature in the last 100 years; unfortunately, he is often overlooked today in many classrooms, but his contributions to literature are too important to ever let fade into obscurity. He may have lost his life but it will be the work of his fans, supporters, and the literary community to make certain that his legacy of words is not forgotten.
Kendall, Jonathon. “Gabriel García Márquez, Conjurer of Literary Magic, Dies at 87.” New York Times. 2014. 1. Web. .
Sickels, Amy. “Gabriel García Márquez: Cultural and Historical Contexts.” Salem Press. 1-2. Web. .
Biography Channel. “Gabriel Garcia Marquez-Biography.” Biography Channel. 2014. 1. Web. .