Sunday, April 20, 2014


Through a career spanning fifty years and a prodigious literary output ranging from criticism to letters, essays, operas, short stories and novels, the name of Gabriel Garcia Marquez became a byword for literary integrity and compassion, which future generations of writers will struggle to emulate. 

Marquez, who died on Thursday in Mexico City of pneumonia at the age of 87, has left the world without its most revered moral voice in literature, a staunch defender of the downtrodden, a man whose empathy allowed readers to connect with characters in ways previously unimagined. 

Marquez was born in 1927 in Aracataca, a town near Colombia's Caribbean coast. His childhood in the banana-growing backwater influenced the settings and characters in many of his novels, the most famous of which remains 100 Years of Solitude. Marquez revelled in creating intricately detailed worlds and his ability to create believable and endearing characters within those worlds and lead us into the heart of their dilemmas and decisions remained unrivalled throughout his life. As a journalist Marquez was deeply concerned by the plight of the poor and the effects of colonisation on South America. 

Despite publishing a novella and short stories, it was only after many years into his career that he achieved fame with the publication in 1967 of 100 Years of Solitude, followed by the darkly humorous, Autumn of the Patriarch, the story of a fictional dictator based on the lives of various Latin American dictators, and Chronicle of a Death Foretold, a critique of the apathy in Colombian society after the murder of a young man. 

The criticism of imperialism, particularly his perception of US imperialism in Latin America, remained a consistent theme in his novels and essays. His career as a journalist allowed him to stay in touch with many of the realities of daily life, which informed his political and social views and his literature. He was a vocal supporter of the left-wing Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua and his friendships with some of Latin America’s best known revolutionaries, such as Fidel Castro, were matters of considerable concern to the US, which labelled him as a subversive. Though his friendship with Castro was often criticised, the writer himself simply said, “Ours is an intellectual friendship. It may not be widely known that Fidel is a very cultured man.” Marquez's most important legacy remains literature and the style of magical realism that he popularised. 

He was a man above politics, above accusations of partisanship or dogmatism, who continued to explore moral dilemmas with sensitivity and empathy and give voice to people who never had one. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982 for his work, though as he himself said, “What matters in life is not what happens to you but what you remember and how you remember it.” His memory notwithstanding, the world has lost a unique voice that will be always missed. RIP Gabriel Garcia Marquez. 
Courtesy: Daily Times

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