Gabriel Garcia Marquez is one of the greatest Latin American writers. He is so popular that even some people in the US (like, for example, Oprah who chose his Cien anios de soledad for her book club) might actually recognize his name. And as we all know, this is not an easy feat for a Spanish-speaking writer to accomplish.
The way Garcia Marquez uses language is unbelievably beautiful. It's mesmerizing, hypnotic, heart-breaking in its power to move you. This is why the ideology he puts forward in this amazing language becomes extremely dangerous.
Garcia Marquez is profoundly machista. He despises women and this comes out in every page of his writing. To give just one example, in his novel Amor en los tiempos del colera, one of the female characters is raped. Her rapist assaults her from behind and she never gets to see his face. Of course, she falls profoundly in love with this unseen rapist and spends her entire life searching for him. She has sex with numerous men in an attempt to relive the wonderful feelings she had while being raped. It is impossible to read this and not cringe in total disgust. The author's chauvinism is blatant and apologetic in every single one of his works.
Another problem I have with Garcia Marquez is his absolute indifference to the horrible social and economic realities of his continent. He pretends to have a social consciousness but in reality all his socialism is limited to a hypocritical friendship with Fidel Castro. (Of course, how anybody could go to Cuba and not feel a profound hatred towards the system in place there is beyond my understanding.) As a bestselling author and a Nobel Prize winner, Garcia Marquez could do a lot to reveal the painful realities of Latin America to the world. That, however, wouldn't sell as well. So Garcia Marquez cutesifies and prettifies horrifying realities of his continent in order to make them attractive to his affluent American and European readers.
It is so incredibly sad to see such an amazing talent serving some really irresponsible and hateful ideological goals.
>One of the reasons why I love The Nation is because they always publish reviews of books by really amazing writers. I was very happy to find out that they published an article on the incredibly talented Catalan writer Merce Rodoreda*.
Rodoreda’s most famous novel has been translated into English under the title The Time of the Doves. The central conclusion that this beautifully wirtten novel draws about being a woman in a patriarchal society is that
the only way for a woman to preserve her dignity and even simply to survive is through a total rejection of her sexuality.
Natalia, the protagonist of this unconventional female Bildungsroman, leaves her kind and loving boyfriend for the sake of an abusive and profoundly chauvinistic man called Quimet. She is drawn to Quimet because of a powerful sexual attraction he exercises over her. Natalia’s marriage to this man is disastrous in all respects but one: she reaches profound sexual fulfillment with him.
When Quimet dies in a war, Natalia finds herself on the brink of starvation. She feels so desperate that she decides to kill herself and her two small children. A kind shop-owner figures out what she is trying to do and offers Natalia to marry him. Natalia does not love this man and has nothing in common with him. Besides, the war has left her new husband impotent.
The new husband is nice and kind to Natalia and her children. She, however, cannot be satisfied with this tepid relatiosnhip and has to struggle long and hard to get used to her empty existence where the only thing her marriage gives her is food.
This is a truly tragic novel about painful choices, about how the patriarchal society traps a woman and offers her no way out of an existence that will always be based on compromising her interests, desires, and her very possibility to be happy.
*Thank you, my dear friend Oli, for bringing this review to my attention.
The great thing about being a tenure-track faculty member is that you have tons of time to read for fun. Thanks to my Kindle (which always informs me of exciting new books at very accessible prices), I discovered a great book titled Olive Kitteridge: Fiction by Elizabeth Strout, a wonderful author I never even knew existed.
Olive Kitteridge is a collection of stories bound together by the figure of Olive, a powerful, unbending woman who victimizes her husband and alienates her only son. The stories cover a period of 30+ years and depict the central moments in the lives of Olive and her neighbors, inhabitants of Crosby, Maine.
This book is an exploration of the topics of life and death, the loneliness we experience in and out of human relationships, lack of understanding between parents and children, husbands and wives.
At times, the book is melancholy, sad and even heartbreaking. Sometimes, it is also extremely funny. I strongly recommend it to anyone in search of good English prose.