Friday, April 17, 2020

One Hundred Years of Solitude Read-along Week #6

Today is the six-year anniversary of the death of Gabriel García Márquez. This is my final review of One Hundred Years of Solitude.

REVIEW OF CH. 18 - 20

Chapter 18: Melquíades was fading away and anxious to transfer all of his knowledge to Aureliano Babilonia, who took up the obsessive quest of deciphering Melquíades' parchments. 

Aureliano Segundo was a prisoner in his own home. He and Fernanda "did not share their solitude, but they continued living on their own..." In this chapter, Fernanda conveniently died. 

Soon after, José Arcadio III returned from Rome, but he was no saint, nor did he ever become Pope. He lived a wild life.

A strange man arrived in Macondo; he was the only surviving son of Col. Aureliano, Aureliano Amador. Unfortunately, he was pursued by police and shot in the head. 

One day, while José Arcadio III was hanging out with friends, they discovered the hidden gold that Ursula had buried and kept away from the family; later, the friends returned, murdered JA III, and stole the gold anyway. 

Chapter 19: Amaranta Ursula, the last child of Fernanda and Aureliano Segundo, returned to Macondo with her husband, Gaston, who had no intention of staying in Macondo. Like Ursula, Amaranta took charge and managed the house. She was a modern woman and had high expectations for Macondo.

Unfortunately, in this chapter, we found out what happened to the 3000 dead people on the train; they were thrown into the sea. (This event is modeled after a similar historical event and where we get the term Banana Republic.) 

There are too many prostitution rings and brothels going on, as well, some supported by Pilar Ternera, the oldest person from Macondo.  

And finally, Aureliano Babilonia fell in love with Amaranta Ursula, and they became inappropriately involved.

Chapter 20: Finally, Pilar Ternera died, while Macondo was falling into ruin and being forgotten...
even by the birds, where the dust and the heat had become so strong that it was difficult to breathe, secluded by solitude and love and by the solitude of love in a house where it was almost impossible to sleep...
The only happy ones were Amaranta Ursula and Aureliano Babilonia: "the most happy on the face of the earth." 

Oh, and Gaston? He went back to Brussels. But Amaranta Ursula and Aureliano Babilonia...I'll let Marquez describe it: 
both of them remained floating in an empty universe where the only everyday and eternal reality was love.
They preferred death to separation.
They married and expected a child. But remember, Fernanda lied about who little Aureliano was. This is where your brain has to do the math. What was the relationship between these two? For a while, he thought he was his wife's brother!

When their son was born, Amaranta recognized the resemblance of a "great Buendía...strong and willful like the José Arcadios...the open and clairvoyant eyes of the Aurelianos;" she believed he was "predisposed to begin the race again from the beginning and cleanse it of its pernicious vices and solitary calling, for he was the only one in a century who had been engendered with love."

When they looked him over, there it was: the tail of a pig! But they did not know the fear, nor did they remember the meaning, and so they thought nothing of it.

Amaranta Ursula died after giving birth to her son, Aureliano III. Distraught, Aureliano Babilonia  ran off and got drunk. When he later remembered his son, it was too late. Baby Aureliano III was dead - the last Buendía to be born.

Since Aureliano Babilonia had been able to  translate Melquíades' parchments, he deciphered that it was all a prophecy about the history and fate of Macondo. In it, he learned that Amaranta Ursula was not his sister, but his aunt. And when he sought to know what would be his death, he did not realize that a violent hurricane was brewing in Macondo, one that would wipe the town's memory and the memory of the Buendía family from the face of the earth forever.

WEEK SIX WRAP UP

My brain hurts! Trying to keep all of those family relations straight when they couldn't keep things straight themselves. In the same breath, that last chapter came full circle and brought the Buendía family to a close; it was literally and figuratively amazing! It truly was a whirlwind. 

Trivia: Did you know that on the day Márquez brought his manuscript to the publisher, a gust of wind ripped the pages either from his wife's hands or his, and they chased them in the street, retrieving each one and putting them back together in order again. 

When I first read One Hundred Years of Solitude, in 2014, the year Gabriel García Márquez died, I disliked it very much, mainly because it was ambiguous and insanely frustrating. However, this second read has proved extremely profitable, as I have gained considerable appreciation for the story of One Hundred Years, the characters of Macondo, and the genre of magical realism. 

I, too, like Brona, am ready to read Love in the Time of Cholera. 

QUOTES ON SOLITUDE
Never a lament had been heard from that stealthy, impenetrable woman who had sown in the family the angelic seed of Remedios the Beauty and the mysterious solemnity of José Arcadio II; who dedicated a whole life of solitude and diligence to the rearing of children although she could barely remember whether they were her children or grandchildren...
She became human in her solitude. 
...everything written on them was unrepeatable since time immemorial and forever more, because races condemned to one hundred years of solitude did not have a second opportunity on earth. 

Thank you to my co-host, Silvia, for encouraging me to reread One Hundred Years and for joining together in this read-along. Thank you all who have participated. If you did finish, drop a link in the comments and share your final review. 

ALL REVIEWS:

9 comments:

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

I'm glad this was a positive experience.

Ruth said...

Me, too. A second read made all the difference. :)

Beth said...

This book was a mostly positive experience for me, I just wasn't over the moon about it. I still think Midnight's Children is better, but I will be rereading that one soon, so I will see if it holds up!

Ruth said...

BETH: That's another one I will be open to reading. Thanks for reminding me.

Silvia said...

Ruth. First my apologies. Something that needed all my attention happened in March and April and I had to drop the ball and be present at home.
I will write one last post on this amazing book. Thanks for the read along. I too LOVED the book this second time. I am also interested in rereading El amor en los tiempos del cólera.

I will talk about this, but at one point I stopped trying to decipher who was who. I think Marquez was deliberate and all the men are Jose Arcadio and all the women Ursula.

After I passed the mid book point, it dong on
me that he isn’t writing about incest, adultery, or prostitution. He is writing about love as opposed to solitude, and love as an impossible existential state, one that happened in the garden of eden (and wasn’t the house a primeval impossible scenario?) one we all dream of but that is the beginning of the end.

Marquez set up the stage for the most arresting and profound quotes and philosophy, and he gave us flesh and soul in a poetic rendition of Macondo/Buendias, that paralleled World/Humankind.

The muses were with him. Hats off to Marquez.

Ruth said...

SILIVIA: What an interesting observation: the Buendia House is the Garden of Eden. Is that what you are saying? I think it definitely works.

I know that LOVE was a major theme for Marquez, so help me understand what you mean that instead of solitude, love is an impossible existential state. I think I know what you mean, but tell me more.

And no need for apologies. Life happens and it is more important that this. (I'm going through my own situation; it got to the point where 100 Years was the only book I read and finished in April.)

Unknown said...

That's how the ending pages specially seemed to me, the house as a Garden of Eden. I don't intend to read a lot into the book that's not there, but this time around, the book definitely felt differently. Almost platonic, as if all of the Buendias are looking for pure love, and can't find any true and satisfactory expression that doesn't end up corrupted because it ends up being fleshly. The only 'pure' or angelical, are sexless. The sexual impulse in the men and women of the Buendia family, is always aimed at the very same family, with very few outside people. One is a sex worker, Pilar Ternera, who ends up loving this family and helping them and putting them before herself. The other two men, Gaston and the french guy that both sisters loved, or the general friend that courted Ursula (I'm guessing, :) ), they try to become part of the family, but the family is too hermetic. Thus the solitude. They are lonely, and part of their loneliness is the realization that love -not just sexual infatuation- in all its facets cannot be freely embraced. Although some of them found tenderness and some companionship in their late years realization of how lonely the family is, how the different personalities repeat in each generation, how they all end up at home, and alone.

However, their story stays, maybe in the memory, in the collective, in the heart of the readers.

The last pages may pose a problem for some readers, Márquez is not shy, but those games and loving rituals didn't bother me, they were like what children without any malice would attempt. But obviously, that wasn't married couple love, so it could not have a healthy child as the result. The last José Arcadio was a boy that lived almost as a monk in the house, not allured or corrupted by the world. Remember also how the last burdel is surreal to them, how they pretend it doesn't exist, it's a circus, or a mad house.

I don't know how to explain this, love/sex/solitude/life/death, those have a different articulation in this book for sure. This is a game changer type of book. I don't know how it stands in the christian worldview. I mean to say that I don't see Márquez sanctioning incest, burdeles, or anything like it. However, I still don't know for sure all that was conveyed. I can't only say that it was amazing, tough to read at points -it's sad to see them all failing to be loved or understood, the wars, the crimes, the pain-, and very poetic, though.

Lastly, I adore Ursula, the first one, the old lady who was blind and people didn't know it. Such a strong woman. Beautiful lines came from her in the book.

Silvia Cachia said...

That long comment was I, Silvia, ha ha ha

Ruth said...

SILVIA: That was beautiful. Thank you for sharing your insight. How Marquez uses all of those themes interchangeably, if that was his intent, becomes makes the family both sad and poetic.

I would read this story again, and I think I will add it to my personal canon. The ending was amazing and mournful. And I agree that Ursula was a great lady. Even though she was blind, she had eyes to see deep into one's soul.

Thanks, Silvia. And I look forward to reading your wrap up.