Sidharth Vardhan

One Hundred Years of Magic

One Hundred years of solitude sidharth vardhan review analysis
The brilliant, bestselling, landmark novel that tells the story of the Buendia family, and chronicles the irreconcilable conflict between the desire for solitude and the need for love—in rich, imaginative prose that has come to define an entire genre known as "magical realism."

(A review by Sidharth Vardhan
of 'One Hundred Years of Solitude' 
-  a novel by Nobel laureate  Gabriel García Márquez
First reviewed on August 27, 2014)

“How are you, Colonel?" he asked in passing. "Right here," he answered. "Waiting for my funeral procession to pass …..”

Gabriel García Márquez (One Hundred Years of Solitude)

“The world was so recent that many things lacked names, and in order to indicate them it was necessary to point”

Gabriel García Márquez (One Hundred Years of Solitude)

“He really had been through death, but he had returned because he could not bear the solitude.”

Gabriel García Márquez (One Hundred Years of Solitude)

You know what is common between "One hundred years of solitude', Pride and Prejudice' and 'Twilight'?
You either love them or make fun of them. This one fell in the first category for me.

The things that make this book so special to some are also the things that make it boring top others. The theme of time moving in circles with names and events repeating is both beautiful and boring. Look at names for example. There are twenty-two Aurlianos in it, four Arcadeos and three Remodeos. There is an Ursula, an Amranta and an Amranta Ursula.

The actual narration is fast enough to justice to the title – and you could see the events of a hundred years packed in those four hundred pages. If the author was to slow down and try to write in traditional style - in dialogues or scenes, the book would have filled several volumes. I think it best to read it in short spells - like episodes of a television or It may start to be confusing. The narration keeps shifting from one character to other and is able to do them and many others justice (with the exception of 17 of illegitimate Aurianos) as far as possible. The theme – of everything existing at the same time and so on, of repetition of events, makes the reading a bit tiring.

Before making up your mind to read the book, read the first chapter and continue only if you like it. It is not as if it would get better later - it is not so much about a story but about writing style. If you were to like it, you would like the beginning the best.

It is one of the first novels that made use of magical realism. From the very beginning, the novel is full of magical realism and it is taken as if it is no big deal.

To take an example, there is this girl Remodias the beauty – the most beautiful one and the miracle of purity, who has a mind so simple that you would believe she belongs to heavens. Guess what! One of those days she flies to heaven. You know, figuratively.

It is just one of several examples of magical realism that dominates the story and is passed as if it wasn't something extraordinary. It is like that in the above example Remodios' mother would be telling their neighbors, "You know what! last day our remo flew away with laundry" and the neighbor would react, "Oh, well! I know a new shop in the market where you can find the new clothes."

The book is full of similar remarkable characters, chasing after their destinies –the ghost of people who died and those of people who refuse to die are present too; saying weird things like:

"The best friend a person has is one who has just died."

Gabriel García Márquez (One Hundred Years of Solitude)

"We won't call her Ursula because a person suffers too much· with that name."

Gabriel García Márquez (One Hundred Years of Solitude)

“A person doesn't die when he should but when he can."

Gabriel García Márquez (One Hundred Years of Solitude)

Besides time, another theme that keeps recurring is solitude – almost all characters end up finding themselves in solitude – to the extremist levels.
The whole city is no better, cut off from the world and its developments; so much that this is how a woman told her first ever sight of train:

“It’s coming,” she finally explained. “Something frightful, like a kitchen dragging a village behind it."

Gabriel García Márquez (One Hundred Years of Solitude)

One of the effects of this solitude is that characters continue to lose themselves in the world of books and stories or, well,start making goldfishes.

Another effect is incest – a sub-theme which kept recurring from first chapter till the last one.

It takes very brave effort at thinking to see the genius of the book – don't read it casually or you will only waste your time and end up hating it.

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