An author is defined not only by the stories he tells, but how he tells them. The way an author writes can be divided into three basic categories: techniques, themes, and style. Gabriel Garcia Marquez is no different. His writing goes beyond the plot, and can be further explained by examining the categories mentioned above. In most of Marquez’s work, he uses the techniques of intertextuality and suspense. Marquez also tries to convey to his reader similar themes in his literature. These themes include solitude, political violence, and the nature of time for humans. Style is a little harder to analyze with Marquez, as he is well- known for not carrying the same style of writing from one work to another. However, one style that is undeniably present in nearly all of his writing is Magical Realism. Although Marquez’s vast library of novels, short stories, and even journalistic accounts may seem too large to find a common denominator, analyzing his writing shows that he does visit the same formulas throughout his body of work.
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Marquez has written many massive, encompassing, novels that tell stories of numerous characters over long periods of time. This type of writing lends itself to the author making references to better explain his writing. Marquez does this by practicing the technique of intertextuality. Intertextuality is a literary technique in which an author uses references back to other work of fiction (literature, plays, films, etc.) or historical events (Palencia- Roth 34) Authors can use intertextuality to provide a skeleton for an event or character in a story, to clear it up for the reader. The technique can also be used to parody what is being referenced (Palencia- Roth, 34).
There are three main types of intertextualities: general, restricted, and autarchic. General intertextuality is when the author cites a work outside of what he himself has written (Palencia-Roth 34). This includes basically anything from the past, usually major events of history, and works that are well- known to most people like the Bible and Shakespeare’s writing. Restricted intertextuality is when the author is making reference to something from one of his previous works (Palencia- Roth 34). An example of this would be a character originally from an earlier novel making an appearance in an author’s most recent novel. The final form of intertextuality is autarchic. This is where the author is citing what he has already written in the same work (Palencia- Roth 34). In this case, an author may be referring back to something that he had explained earlier in the same piece of literature that will explain what is currently going on. Examples of intertextualities can be found throughout Marquez’s novel The Autumn of The Patriarch.
One figure that Marquez like to reference in his writing is Christopher Columbus. Columbus has been a part of Latin American culture since its beginning. He was there from the foundation, without him the Latino culture would not exist as it does today. To the people of Central and South America, even more so than in the United States, Christopher Columbus has become larger than life (Palencia- Roth 41). In The Autumn of the Patriarch, the character the Admiral of the Ocean Sea is based on Columbus. In the story, the Patriarch looks out onto the ocean and sees three ships arriving which eventually would leave a great impact (Palencia- Roth 43-44). The arrival of these ships, of course, represents the three ships that Columbus took with him when he first arrived in the Americas. However Garcia tells the story differently, through the point of view of the indigenous people (Palencia- Roth: 46-47). In this way, Marquez may be using intertextuality to parody the story of the arrival of Christopher Columbus. He is telling it from a point of view the western world does not normally see.
A second character that Marquez uses in his intertextuality is Ruben Dario. Dario was a Latin American writer, one Gabriel greatly admired (Palencia- Roth 48). In The Autumn of the Patriarch Marquez’s love for Dario is apparent throughout the entire story in various aspects. Marquez quotes Dario in the novel itself, and even uses “Dariano” setting and mood (Palencia- Roth 48- 49). In The Autumn of the Patriarch, the intertextuality Marquez uses is so extreme that he does not even use Dario to represent a character in the novel, but instead inserts the actual author Ruben Dario into the fictional world. Within the story, Dario is not only used as a character, but is a famous and well respected writer. His work is read aloud in the streets, and the Patriarch even invites him to a grand reception (Palencia- Roth 56- 57). By doing this, Marquez is making a clear statement about how much he respects Dario.
A third character that Marquez references, and a fantastic example of intertextuality, is Julius Caesar. Caesar is used as the basis of the character of the Patriarch. Caesar is undoubtedly a part of the Patriarch; to create the Patriarch, Marquez used the actual descriptions of Caesar written by Plutarch and Suentonius (Palencia- Roth 36- 39). Some of the similarities that the two share are as follows: they both try to arrange time, are haunted by prophecies about the future, suffer from insomnia, are famously great lovers, rule as if their word was law, are under constant threat of assassination, and are viewed as God- like posthumously (Palencia- Roth 36). With all of these similarities, it is undeniable that the great ruler that is the Patriarch is based on the great ruler that is Julius Caesar.
Another technique that Marquez uses to help move along his stories is suspense. Suspense has become a favorite in modern entertainment; even growing so popular that it is its own genre in film. Suspense is a technique that Marquez uses to keep his readers engaged in the story, to keep them turning the pages.
In Chronicle of a Death Foretold, Garcia tells us right from the beginning, right there in the title, that there is going to be a death. Although doing may get rid of the mystery, it actually heightens the suspense. Since we know there will be a death, we are waiting for it, constantly thinking it is right around the corner (Montes- Huidobro 105). Along the way, Garcia uses antipathy, sympathy, and identification to force the reader to relate to Santiago, the man who is to be killed (Montes- Huidobro 107).By relating to the character, the reader become personally invested in him or her (Montes- Huidobro 107). This will keep the reader turning the pages to find out what is to happen to Santiago, or any of Marquez’s characters, because they care about him.
An artist, like Gabriel, who wants to successfully create suspense in his work, will use three basic parts that together form the suspense. These three parts of suspense are behavior, space, and time (Montes- Huidobro 113). The first part that an artist will use manipulate is the behavior of his characters. The reader does not personally know who the character is. Because a character is not someone we have known our whole lives like a close friend or family member, we are not able to predict how he or she will react in a certain situation under certain circumstances (Montes- Huidobro 114). This is something that people experience throughout their everyday lives. If someone we do not know is in charge of something we are invested in, like a boss holding an interview for a new position, we get nervous because we do not know how the other person will react (Montes- Huidobro 114). Just as in a real life situation where a decision is left up to someone else, the reader can only hope that the character will make the right choice (Montes- Huidobro 114). This unpredictability in a character is what leaves the reader in suspense.
The second aspect of that an author may use to advantage to create suspense is space, the location of a particular event. When two things happen at once in different areas, it adds to the suspense. That is, one thing may affect the other without it being known to the story’s characters (Montes- Huidobro 119). It may leave the reader wondering; thinking that if what happened in one place only happened in another place things may have been totally different. Another way an artist may use the scene to increase suspense is to switch back and forth between viewpoints (Montes- Huidobro 120). By switching back and forth, quicker and quicker each time, up to a pivotal moment between two characters, a level of anxiety is added to the writing that the reader can pick up on.
The final aspect of suspense is time. Like with space, if an event had only occurred at a different time, things might have turned out differently (Montes- Huidobro 115). Gabriel also uses time to cause a foreboding feeling in the story. In Chronicle of a Death Foretold, Garcia tells the reader the exact time of Santiago’s death. As the clock ticks closer to the time, the reader becomes more anxious about the looming death of Santiago (Montes- Huidobro117). Even though the reader knows the death of Santiago will happen, the suspense is still there because the reader is longing to see the final result that the story has been building up to for so many pages.
Solitude is a theme Marquez explores greatly, both among individual characters, as well as a theme of Latin America as a whole. In almost everything he writes, whether it is obvious or subtle, solitude is present (Pelayo 36). In his book Leaf Storm, Marquez uses the character the Doctor to channel his message of solitude. When faced with a decision, the Doctor chooses to do what he believes is right, a choice that goes against public opinion. Because of this, the Doctor is ostracized by his peers (Pelayo 36). Through the unfolding of these events, Marquez may be saying that solitude sometimes is not brought about by our own volition. The doctor lives a life of total solitude. He lives by himself, with nothing of personal value; he does not even leave his house for ten full years (Pelayo 36). Eventually, the Doctor will commit suicide, the most radical form of solitude (Pelayo 36). Marquez also portrays solitude through the town of Mocondo, which is isolated geographically (Pelayo 35). Gabriel uses the interior monologue to further add to the theme of solitude, as well as sparse actual dialogue between characters (Pelayo 36). Marquez may do this to show that many people could care less about the lives of others because they are too busy being concerned with their own world.
On a grander scale, Marquez is concerned with the solitude of Latin America as a whole. He addresses this in his appropriately titled Nobel Prize acceptance speech, “The Solitude of Latin America”. In his mind, the lives of the Latin American people have been viewed as ‘different’ by westerners. He believes that this is because the cultures and customs of Hispanics are measured against a standard that they themselves did not create nor one they actively wish to emulate (Garcia Marquez 89). Similar to this, he says that the great European cities took years to build; it is unfair to judge the Latin world which is so young in comparison (Garcia Marquez 89). He is trying to say that Latin America still needs time to work itself out. Marquez is also puzzled at the way the west responds to Latin America’s wishes to be left alone, independent. The western world allows it to be different in art, literature, theatre, cinema, and the like, but not to be different socially (Garcia Marquez 90). Latin America wants to share many of the final results the western world has, but wishes to achieve them differently (Garcia Marquez 91). This speech is one of the first times that Latin America is able to be defended for what it is on the world stage, before a highly respected audience.
Marquez’s belief on solitude is that it solitude is an unavoidable part of life. No matter who you are or what type of life you live, you will at some point be alone (Welch 86). Marquez may be saying that because solitude is unavoidable, the way we respond to it shapes who we are just as much as any other important life event. He also believes that one’s language and culture may actually affect how he responds to isolation (Welch 86). This means that someone raised in a more independent environment may respond better to being alone that someone who was pampered from childhood. Marquez also believes that solitude breeds obsessional behavior and nostalgia (Welch 86). When left alone for a long period of time, it is almost impossible to not look back to the past, thinking of how things may have gone differently and so on. For many, extreme periods of isolation can make someone go mad; they obsess about to past.
Marquez also tends to have a political message that seeps into his writing. Although he says that any political stances in his writing are unintentional, he also acknowledges that they are still there (Simons 6). It may be even more difficult for Garcia than it would be for most authors because he includes so much actual historical events in his writing. Garcia also had a background in journalism (Smith 1); this may have been a reason why he chose to incorporate non-fictional events into his writing.
In One Hundred Years of Solitude, a main component of the story is La Violencia, The Violence. La Violencia was an actual ten year period of civil war in Colombia between political parties (Smith 1). He depicts some of the effects of La Violencia on characters in a very negative way (Smith 1). Although he may not be explicitly saying it was wrong, he is at least trying to send a message that it has done more bad than good. This method of not directly saying anything about an event but just portraying it in a certain light is seen in much of his work.
Another theme of Marquez that can be seen in One Hundred Years of Solitude is the apocalypse and human time. He uses the apocalypse to direct and structure his writing. He never hides that everything will eventually reach its end (Lamora 84). In the book, the plot focuses on the Buendia family in Macondo (the same town he used in Leaf Storm). The story relates human time to the time of the universe as a whole. He tells the tale of the Buendia family and their town, their universe, from beginning to end (Lamora 84). Marquez may be trying to remind his readers that our lives and the things we find so important are really insignificant in the grand scheme of things.
Marquez is well known for not having one specific style that connects all of his writing.
He says that his style for a work is not chosen by him, but is rather determined as he writes by the subject and time that he portrays (Simons 2). He has also said that critics who analyze his writing try making connections that he did not intentionally put there (Simons 2). This similar to the way that Marquez regards any political points in his writing in that he did not plan on them being there.
One of the few styles of writing that Marquez does use repeatedly is Magic Realism. This is a style of writing where the author tells tales of the magical and supernatural in a calm, matter-of-fact way. As if these events were normal, part of everyday life (Harth 83). The style of Magical Realism first came about in Latin America during the 1940s and 1950s. It was started by authors like Esteban Montejo (Harth 85). Today it is almost its own genre. It has spread across the world and found its way into all forms of entertainment (Harth 83). Magical Realism has actually been adopted across Europe for the visual arts, especially in Germany (Harth 84). Marquez actually learned this style of writing from his grandmother. When he was a boy, Marquez’s grandmother would tell him stories of magic and fantasy in the same casual tone that Marquez uses in his writing (Harth 84). Marquez was also influenced by his location. He lived in the Caribbean, a place that lent itself perfectly to magical realism through the combination of its inhabitants’ culture: the imagination of the blacks coming to the area from Africa, and the religious beliefs of the indigenous people (Harth 85).
4. Magical Realism is the most effective when the author (or director, painter,
etc.) depicts the reality of the situation as objectively as possible, while still
including the magical elements (10:84)
5. Magical Realism in One Hundred Years of Solitude
a. There is a child born with a pig’s tail.
(1.) Not seen as extraordinary. Rather, it is seen as a punishment
because he was conceived through incest.
b. Remedios the Beauty is carried up to heaven, while she is hanging
sheets out to dry.
(1.) In this case, the magic of the event is hindered because
Marquez includes realistic details of what goes on as Remedios
is being carried up to heaven.
(a.) Her sister waves goodbye as she is lifted up to heaven.
Her sister is also angry she did not get her sheets back.
(2.) There is almost no attention paid to the actual assumption into
6. Magical Realism challenges the rationale of Western literature.
a. Goes against many traditional European styles like romanticism.
(1.) While Romanticism exaggerates and focuses on small things,
Magical Realism does the exact opposite: it taking things that
would normally be considered extraordinary and trivializes
b. It expands on the style of realism, which is a western style of
writing where things are stated very plainly. (12:184-192)
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