Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Latin American author of novels and short stories, a central figure in the so-called magical realism movement in Latin American literature. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982.
Although born into poverty, Garcia Marquez studied law and journalism at the National University of Colombia in Bogota and at the University of Cartagena. He began his career as a journalist in 1948, working in Cartagena, Barranquilla, and Bogota. In the late 1950s, Garcia Marquez was a foreign correspondent for the Bogota daily El Espectador in Rome and Paris, returning to Colombia and then to Caracas as a journalist in 1958. From 1959 to 1961 he worked for the Cuban news agency La Prensa in Colombia, Havana, and New York City, and in the 1960s he worked as a screenwriter, journalist, and publicist in Mexico City. He moved to Barcelona in 1973 and in the later 1970s returned to Mexico. In the early 1980s, periodic restrictions on his travel in his native Colombia and in the United States were attributed to his avowed left-wing political views.

Garcia Marquez began writing short stories in the late 1940s. His first major publication was La hojarasca (1955; Leafstorm and Other Stories). In this story first appears the fictional Colombian village of Macondo--the setting of much of his later work--and the combination of realism and fantasy characteristic of his style.

El coronel no tiene quien le escriba (1961), which first appeared in the Colombian magazine Mito in 1958, relates the story of an aged war veteran whose service remains unrecognized by the country for which he fought. It was translated together with a collection of short stories, Los funerales de la Mama Grande (1962), under the title No One Writes to the Colonel and Other Stories (1968). During this period Garcia Marquez also published La mala hora (1962; In Evil Hour), a story of political repression in Macondo.

It was during his first stay in Mexico that Garcia Marquez wrote his best-known novel, Cien anos de soledad (1967; One Hundred Years of Solitude), which recounts the history of Macondo and its founders, the Buendia family. It is also a history of Colombia and, on its highest level, a presentation of the myth and legend of human experience. The dense, convoluted style of this and other works recalls that of the American novelist William Faulkner.

With Mario Vargas Llosa, Garcia Marquez produced a volume of literary criticism, La novela en America Latina (1968). An episode in Cien anos gave rise to the collection of short stories titled La increible y triste historia de la candida Erendira y de su abuela deselmada (1972; Innocent Erendira and Other Stories). Another series of stories was published as Ojos de perro azul (1972; "Eyes of a Blue Dog"). He later wrote El otono del patriarca (1975; The Autumn of the Patriarch), a satire on Latin American military dictators; and Cronica de una muerte anunciada (1981; Chronicle of a Death Foretold), which examines the events surrounding a murder for honour in a Latin American town.

Garcia Marquez's subsequent novels were El amor en los tiempos del colera (1985; Love in the Time of Cholera), a meditation on fidelity in romantic love; and El general en su laberinto (1989; The General in His Labyrinth), a fictional account of the Latin American liberator Simon Bolivar during the last months of his life.

Gene H. Bell-Villada, Garcia Marquez (1990), discusses Garcia Marquez's life and work. Critical studies include Bernard McGuirk and Richard Cardwell (eds.), Gabriel Garcia Marquez (1987), which includes a translation of his Nobel speech; Harley D. Oberhelman (compiler), Gabriel Garcia Marquez: A Study of the Short Fiction (1991); and Michael Bell, Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Solitude and Solidarity (1993).


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