By: Fernando Panesso
Embassador of Colombia to Ecuador
One Hundred Years of Solitude is a novel on the history of a peculiar family, the Buendias, who lived in a town called Macondo. This town was founded by the head of that family, and it is the place where the story unfolds.
The novel tells the adventures and misadventures of the Buendia family over the generations. A story where the only things in common between the characters, the members of the family, is the repetition of names (Aureliano and Jose Arcadio) and a relish for esotericism…
In fact, almost all of the Buendias are deeply attracted by inventions, experiments, and anything with a mysterious and unreal ingredient in it.
All of this will progressively turn a “normal” family, firstly composed by Ursula and her husband Jose Arcadio Buendía, into a “surreal” group. Even the beginning of this family dynasty is curious; they settle on a “piece of land” and found a new town, Macondo. Then, the sons of the couple, Aureliano and Jose Arcadio, will grow up; the first one, daydreamer and shy; the second one, more open…
Soon, the family expands, after the arrival of Rebeca (she just appeared in the town, bearing a bag full of human bones), and Amaranta. This “basis” will engender all kind of odd descendants. At the end, after One Hundred Years of Solitude, the family will disappear, following the birth and death of the last Buendia baby.
The greatness of the novel lays on the vital description of the characters. The author fills up the pages with the eccentricities of each member of the family; and the characters’ day-to-day life is the true novel’s engine. A regular day from the book is made up by the example of the dear Ursula and her resistance; the madness of her husband, who will end his days tied up to a chestnut tree; the magic powers of Melquiades, the Gipsy; the tight pants of Pietro Crespi; the cruelty of the old maid Amaranta; Rebeca’s bones; the brightness of Beautiful Remedios; the severe character of Fernanda; the party spirit of Aureliano Segundo; the humble humanity of Pilar Ternera, the prostitute; the loneliness and warrior temple of Colonel Aureliano Buendia, among others.
That special day-to-day existence is the key to the book, as it does not have a clear storyline.
Instead, the book is an “open” story, where emotion is created out of the unpredictable characters and their particular worlds. However, beyond the extraordinary imagination of Garcia Marquez, the great value of this work, from my point of view, is technical.
One Hundred Years of Solitude contains a hundred of pages written with a perfect technique. The use of metaphors is praiseworthy, as well as the symbols, dynamics, and other thousands of resources. It is, in the end, a literature master class. With respect to novelty or originality, I would point out the use of magic realism (some human beings are capable of carrying out superhuman actions).