Friday, March 13, 2020

One Hundred Years of Solitude Read-along Week #1

This is the end of week one of the One Hundred Years of Solitude Read-along, hosted by Silvia Cachia and myself. Have you completed the first four chapters? What are your  impressions so far?

This is my second reading. While my first experience was reserved, this time I am treasuring it as pleasurable and entertaining. It is a simple and rapid read, not loaded down with heavy themes or long-winded emotional narration. Yet, it is not a typical novel, often jumping into the future and back into the past. Has anyone else found this challenging?

What about keeping the characters straight -- especially when same names are used for multiple people? This is still a frustration for me. Given that this story is focused on multiple generations of the Buendía family, a family tree visual or map may be helpful. I like the ones with images or illustrations instead of only names. It helps to put a face with a name. By the way, has anyone noticed that the surname Buendía means good day?


Buendía Family Tree


Chapter One: The story began and then immediately jumped into the past, to Col. Aureliano's youth, as he remembered his former days. His father, José Arcadio Buendía, and mother, Ursula, had two sons, Aureliano and José Arcadio II. Buendía was not a present father. He was fascinated by knowledge and spent hours experimenting, while Ursula was a strong character, who challenged her husband and grounded her family. Aureliano was mystifying, but José II was strong and much like his father.

Chapter Two: Going back further to the beginning of the history of the Buendía family and the founding of Macondo, the experience was similar to the retelling of the first man and woman in the Garden of Eden. It was like the beginning of time; however, readers know there is a whole world beyond Macondo, but the gypsies are the only connection the people of Macondo seem to have with civilization and the rest of the world.

Ursula and Buendía were cousins and afraid of having deformed offspring; therefore, she had avoided her husband until he won a cockfight and his opponent mocked him. Buendía killed the man, ultimately solving the matter with his wife. The ghost of the dead man haunted them until Ursula and Buendía left their home and, along with some friends, traveled for two years until they settled down and founded the town Macondo.

As an adult, José Arcadio impregnated a woman named Pilar, then abandoned her and his future child, and left Macondo with the gypsies. Ursula searched for him for five years but never found him; however, she did find the route her husband had been searching for out of Macondo.

Chapter Three: Pilar gave birth to a son and named him José Arcadio, but was referred to as Arcadio so as not to be confused with his father or grandfather. The Buendía family adopted a young orphan girl named Rebeca. She had insomnia, which spread throughout the town and eventually developed into anemia, so that people lost their memories, which was a terrible thing. However, the gypsy, Melquiades, found a cure using a daguerreotype, a kind of camera that made photographs.

Then, Don Apolinar Moscote moved into town and set up a magistrate, ordering everyone to paint his house a particular color. José Arcadio Buendía ran him out of town, but Moscote returned with soldiers. Buendía agreed Moscote could remain the magistrate, but only if people could paint their houses the color they like and that the soldiers leave, which he agreed to.

Moscote also had a very young daughter, Remedios, whom Aureliano fell in love with.

Chapter Four: OK...following are my actual margin notes for chapter four:
Aureliano slept with Pilar (the one José impregnated). Amaranta (third child of Buendía and Ursula) and Rebeca (who eats dirt) fell in love with Pietro (the Italian piano guy). They are lovesick. Pietro wants to marry the dirt-eater, while Amaranta vows revenge. (So soap opera-ish!)

Meanwhile, Aureliano will marry Remedios, who is still in diapers. Gypsy, Melquiades died. Pilar is pregnant with Aureliano's baby. Buendía goes mad because he is obsessed about knowledge. He is tied to a tree in hopes that he will calm down, but he remains until the end of his life.


I sure did leave out a lot! This is only the tip of the iceberg. So much is happening -- some of which is comical, though should be read without giggling. One thing I did not discuss is the historical timeline that coincides with the fictional story of Macondo. The time line is 1850 to 1950, and through chapter four, South America is experiencing Civil War. I will try to find an historical outline that matches with the fictional timeline of Macondo.

Other than that, I find this story reads a lot like a soap opera, but in an intriguing and interesting way. Be sure to share what you have been getting out of your reading, if you have joined us.

Anxious for solitude, bitten by a virulent rancor against the world, one night he left his mingle in the tumult of the fair.
Then he gave himself over to that hand...not knowing what he was doing...and the bewildered anxiety to flee and at the same time stay forever in that exasperated silence and that fearful solitude. 
He really had been through death, but he had returned because he could not bear the solitude.
He looked for her in her sisters' shop, behind the window shades in her house, in her fathers office, but he found her only in the image that saturated his private and terrible solitude.

I love book covers. Book covers equal art. Here are 100 Covers of Gabriel García Márquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude (from 1967 to 2018). This one is my favorite ------>


This is unrelated to better things like reading literature and talking about it...but I can't ignore this anymore: the world has been turned upside down because of this stupid virus. It has been a major disruption, and the way the world and individuals are responding has been irritating. (There was a run on toilet paper at our local Costco! No pun intended. My family was ready to go to Arizona for a Dodger game this weekend, and it looks like they are suspending spring training. It's utter madness!) Having said all that, I cannot help but think about you all, especially those in other regions hardest hit, and I want you all to be healthy. Take care of yourselves and don't get sick. Ever. OK? Praying this all passes soon so we can return to common sense.

Silvia Cachia's: WEEK ONE POST


James said...

You've made a great start. I wish I didn't have so many other books on my plate right now. But I look forward to following your journey.

George B. Edwards, Jr. said...

Your chapter summaries bring back Marquez's "magical realism" strangeness. Also, his Love in the Time of Cholera has a "stately beauty" that, as good as it is, the magical 100 Years of Solitude lacks. So says a reviewer with whom I agree. Also worth looking into is his Living to Tell the Tale, an autobiography that is told with the same verve as the afore-mentioned novels and is a much longer work. I'm indebted to Marquez for introducing me in this Tale to Portrait of Jennie by Robert Nathan, a short and mysterious novel; a story of love that really got next to me.

Good luck going to see Clayton Kershaw with his weird delivery when this Corona thing is hopefully long gone.

Silvia said...

Bravo. What a wonderful post. Even as I read it, I feel nostalgia, I'm more and more attached to these strange yet familiar people, and you even help me sort this out, because YES, the name repetition confuses me, and the jumps back and forth as well. It reminds me of life, when we confuse our children's names, etc. The more I read it, the more I think it's on purpose, as if the Aurelianos live in each of the Aurelianos, a long line and life connected by their traits, and the Josés Arcadios live another sort of continuous life. I'm at the part with twins, who used to play and change their names when young and looking identical, but as adults, úrsula, their grandmother, sees each of them with the traits of the Aurelianos and José Arcadios, and thinks they have the wrong names, -as a result of that game-.

Like you, it's not heavy or difficult, the challenges don't make it dense or dragging. It's funny without being ridiculous, soap opera style without being superficial. By the second half, the time and solitude quotes he has been planting along the story, bloom in a generous display. The book this time is becoming such a experience.

And yes, stay safe too, and thanks for praying. I am doing so too.

Ruth said...

JAMES: Thanks, James! So sorry I did not reply....I sometimes do not get messages in my email that I had a comment, and days go by before I check manually.

GEORGE: You mention Time of Cholera, which feels like that's the one I should be reading, given the circumstances we are living in. I know that I would like to read that next now that I am really enjoying 100 Years. And you say it is even better. Great! I look forward to it. BTW, we never did get to see the Dodgers play bc they suspended the season. : (

SILVIA: I think you are right about the names. The characters live on and on through the generations. They even continue the same traits or personalities. And I mix my kids names up, too!

George B. Edwards, Jr. said...

I'm glad you're interested in Cholera, Ruth. The epidemic that takes place in it (unlike The Plague, and Blindness) only lasts for part of the novel and the title has a double meaning to pique your interest further, I hope.

Sorry your family had to miss the Dodgers. Your commentaries about the situation we all face are encouraging.

Brona said...

So sorry for the late attendance here. I've been struggling with blogging for the past little while and have only just managed to stay on top of reading. Having 'commitments' like this readalong have actually helped to keep me motivated to keep going.

But it was sitting down to write my final post for the 100 Years readalong the other day that seems to have given me back my blogging mojo - at least I hope so - fours posts in one week is astounding!

I'd love to know more about the real historical timeline of Colombian and South American history - it was the thing I felt I was missing, especially during all the wars and revolutions.

Ruth said...

BRONA: It's strange times we are living in. Totally understand. Some readers have lost interest in reading bc they are anxious and worried and distracted; same goes for writing. But I think we're on the up and up now. And, yes, four posts in one week is amazing!!!

BTW, I did a little searching for an equivalent timeline, but frustrated, I gave up. I just want someone else to have pieced it together with 100 Years bc I have no understanding or knowledge of South American history, except for a Simon Bolivar. And even then, I don't know very much. It would be an invaluable piece of the puzzle if it could be included in a copy of the novel.

Brona said...

My knowledge stops at the Cuban Revolution and a little bit of Simon Bolivar and Pinochet, but my timeframes are completely out and I have no idea how one effected the other etc. I guess I'll have to start with wikipedia :-)