Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Family Ties

I have to admit, when I started reading the second chunk of Cien años, I didn't quite have the same enthusiasm as I did with the first reading. Perhaps it was due to the fact that I wasn't afflicted with the same sense of intrigue and mystery that I experienced with the first section of the reading. However, after a few pages I was firmly gripped by Marquez's prose once again.

In my experience, the tone and mood of the second reading was markedly different than the first. In the first reading, I was captivated by the mysticism of Malquíades and the sense of adventure when Jose Arcadio explored the surrounding areas of Macondo. In my opinion, the second section of the reading was far grittier. The second section focused on much more political issues surrounding the revolution that was unfolding in Columbia, and more specifically the rifts caused in the Buendia family as a result of the revolution. The most prominent example of the inner conflict in the Buendia family is inevitably the relationship, or lack thereof, between Arcadio and the rest of his lineage. The burden that Arcadio carried with him since his infancy pushed him to betray his family's heritage and drove the most senior members of the family to cut all ties with him and view him as their enemy. At the same time, Marquez sheds light on the solidarity of the rest of the Buendia clan and illustrates the importance of family relationships, which inevitably is a theme that run deeply through the pages of the novel. When reading this section, I couldn't help but draw some parallels between the Godfather saga. Betrayal and deceit within a family are some of the most prominent features of the Godfather films. Inevitably, those who betray the family are cast aside and demonized by those who are loyal; which is exactly what Marquez has portrayed in his novel with the Buendia clan.

I also found myself at a bit of a loss while reading the second portion in the sense that I felt a serious absence of magical aspects. The only passage that truly resonated with me as being a concrete example of "lo mágico" was Rebeca's assassination of her husband. The blood that pooled from the dead body flowed out of the house as though it were alive, snaking it's way out of the house and into the streets. Marquez magicalized (yes, I realize that's not a real word) the blood and gave it seemingly sentient and conscious characteristics.

As a final point, while the writing styles are drastically different, I could not help but think of Carpentier's novel while reading through this section of Cien años due to the fact that both novels deal with revolutions, albeit in different manners.

That's it for now.


  1. Just on the point that you didn't find much "magic" in the second part of the book... it's interesting in fact that in some ways there isn't as much as you might expect in the book as a whole. There can certainly be long stretches without the most characteristic instances of what we've come to expect from "magical realism."

  2. Funny that you'd say there's not as much magic... Maybe it's because you're so involved in the story that you're experiencing magic realism just as the characters in the novel do: the fantastic seems mundane and natural, and no one thinks twice about it... Or maybe it's just because you've grown used to some of it and take it as part of this city's nature.

    Between pages 204 and 312 (the second part), there's tons of stuff!

    - Úrsula's premonition of Aureliano coming back from war by hearing his voice when he's not even back yet.
    - José Arcadio Buendía deliberately changes his weight drastically to become super heavy if needed.
    - The shower of yellow flowers when José Arcadio Buendía dies.
    - Melquíades's apparition after dying, and the twins recognizing him due to inherited memory.
    - Petra Cotes's orgasms cause the animals to procreate.

    ...I knew those page markers would come in handy!

    Now the question is: did you not notice these (probably due to being too immersed in the story) or did you just not interpret them as magical (due to being too immersed in the reality of Macondo)?