Gabriel Garcia Marquez and ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’

Gabriel Garcia Marquez Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the greatest Spanish-language writer, best known for his masterpiece One Hundred Years of Solitude, died on Thursday at his house in Mexico. He was 87. Gabriel Garcia Marquez, known as Gabo to his friend, was born in 1927 in the Colombian coast town of Aracataca.

Like many great Latin American authors, he started his career as a journalist. He was studying law at the National University of Colombia in Bogotá, but he gave up pursuing his true passion.

It was 1965 when the idea of writing his greatest work One Hundred Years of Solitude came to him while driving one day home from a family vacation. He found his own voice: “I should tell stories the way my grandmother told hers.” When he arrived home, he sat down to write. He wrote seven days a week and the novel took 18 months to complete. During this time his wife, Mercedes, took care of the household. When he finished writing he remembered his wife saying: ‘‘Did you really finish it? We owe $12,000.”

In 196, he moved to Mexico City, where he had spent most of his life. With the book’s publication in 1967, in Buenos Aires, he never owed a penny again. One Hundred Years of Solitude was sold out within days.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez was awarded the Nobel Prize for One Hundred Years of Solitude in 1982. After receiving the call on the night of Oct. 20, 1982, Garcia Marquez was trembling from head to toe. Alone in the house, he ran over to his friend house. When the friend saw the condition he was in, he thought he’d had a fight with his wife.

Garcia Marquez ’s editor started going through the draft of One Hundred Years of Solitude at home one rainy day. He was thrilled while reading page after page by this unfamiliar Colombian writer. Shortly he called the Argentine author Tomás Eloy Martínez and asked him urgently to his house.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez was born in Aracataca, a small city near Colombia’s Caribbean coast. He was the eldest child of his parents, and his father, a postal clerk, itinerant pharmacist, and telegraph operator could hardly support his wife and 12 children. Gabriel spent his early childhood living in the big house of his maternal grandparents. The house later came up in his writing, and of course her grandmother’s technique of story telling.

His grandfather, a retired army colonel, was also a huge influence for him. Garcia Marquez once told he was the most significant figure of his life. The grandfather resembled the character Colonel Buendía, the central character of One Hundred Years of Solitude.

As he grew famous, Garcia Marquez had the opportunity to enjoy his life greatly that he would have considered unimaginable in his early struggling life. He had homes in Mexico City, Paris, Barcelona, and Cartagena, on Colombia’s Caribbean coast.

He read hugely American authors–Hemingway, Twain, Melville and Faulkner, and the Europeans–Tolstoy, Proust, Dickens, Virginia Woolf and Kafka. But he never attempted to imitate his admired authors, he said.

Although he devoured American literature, the U.S. government denied him a visa for more than three decades. It was probably because of his friendship with Fidel Castro and his support of left-wing governments opposed by America. Finally, former President Bill Clinton lifted the restriction in the mid-1990s.

One Hundred Years of Solitude author Gabriel Garcia Marquez married Mercedes Barcha in 1958. And they have two sons–Rodrigo and Gonzalo.

By Rahad Abir

The New York Times

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