Gabriel Gracia Marquez’s “One Hundred years of solitude” is one of his earliest novels published in the year 1967. It is written in Spanish and has been translated into thirty seven languages. Though he set off to become a lawyer he ended up becoming a writer and his first novel was published as early as 1955. Brought up by his grandparents and their beliefs, his work has the combination of reality and fantasy. He received the ‘Nobel Prize’ for literature in the year 1982. One hundred years of solitude tells the life of five generations of family living in a fictional town called Macondo.
The Town Of Macondo
The story is retold by Colonel Aureliano Buendia, the son of the patriarch who founded and built the town of Macondo, Joseph Arcadio Beundia. The patriarch had a scientific temperament and was attracted to the ways of the gypsy leader Melquiades. He spent many years in solitude trying to make gold from other metals. His wife Ursula was more pragmatic and was responsible in bringing up her children, Aureliano, Jose Arcadio and a girl Amaranta. It was after many years that the marriage was consummated and resulted in the birth of three children. The younger son was following his father’s footsteps and the elder falls in love with a gypsy girl and follows her.
Before that Jose is seduced by a local woman Pilar Ternera and impregnates her. When he leaves with the gypsy tribe, Ursula follows him leaving behind her new-born daughter. She does not succeed in finding her son and she returns after five months. But she has discovered a new route to civilization; a route that would take only two days. The town of Macondo grows under the leadership of Jose Arcadio I ably assisted by Ursula. Their second son takes after the father and the gypsy leader and becomes a silversmith. Pilar gives birth to a son. Soon the second son also lusts after Pilar.
A town magistrate appointed by the central government arrives. Jose I is not very happy but Aureliano falls in love with the magistrate’s daughter, Remedios Moscote . The Buendia family adopts a girl child, Rebecca, and she also grows up as a girl of the family like Amaranta. These two girls fall in love with Pietro Crespi. Pietro Crespi returns the love of Rebecca, the orphan child and this angers Amaranta. Meanwhile Aureliano is pining away for his lady love and marries her when she reaches puberty.
Rebecca is not married off yet to Pietro as the gypsy leader dies and then it is followed by the death of Remedios also. The mourning period extends and the in the meantime the first son of Jose I returns and Rebecca falls in love with him and has a torrid affair. They are chased out of the town. Pietro now turns his attention on Amaranta but she rejects him even though she loves him. He commits suicide and Amaranta vows to remain a virgin till the end of her life.
Changes In Macondo
The story then moves on to the third generation of the Buendia and with that there are wars between conservatives and the liberals. The liberals are led by Aureliano who has many children through many women and all of them come to Macondo. New gadgets and entertainment enters the town of Macondo. There is revelry and there is depression. The town changes drastically. Amaranta is almost seduced by her nephew but she quickly collects herself before the sin is committed. But she remains a virgin till her death. Soon after her death Ursula also dies.
Aureliano after trying to take complete control of the Macondo fails as he has to give in to the conservatives and the modernization that was invading the town. Slowly he realizes the futility of his endeavours and resigns to solitude like his father. His father was considered to be mad and was tied to a tree and died there. Aureliano slowly dies unknown to the world which was fast caught with business and trade unions. The story ends with the army crushing the trade unions and the leader José Arcadio Segundo, the fifth generation of the Buendia family goes into hiding and he also is left with memories and solitude.
Solitude The Main Theme
Solitude is the main theme of the story. Macondo itself is removed from civilization and at every point there is some character that goes off into solitude cut off from the rest of the world. Incest also recurs in the story many times and eventually we see love taking over the baser nature of the men which is a welcome change. The time period of the story is more than hundred years. Death is rare and people live on and on. The meaningful and the meaningless in life are wonderfully interspersed bringing in real and the unreal together. There are many absurdities seen and things that are little difficult to accept.
Rebecca’s love for Pietro vanishes in a jiffy when she sees the manly Jose II. So also how can the nephew try to impregnate his aunt Amaranta – all this is difficult to accept yet when it is set in a totally novel background we tend to accept them. There is Remedios the beauty who is untouched by all that is happening around her and she is unaware of her beautiful self. She just goes up and disappears into thin air.
This masterpiece from Gabriel Gracia Marquez brings in the political and military uprisings that he had witnessed during his youth. His grandfather had fought in the Colombian Civil war and his grandmother used to tell him stories about the supernatural. Both of them had a deep impression on Gabriel and many aspects of that are reflected in this book. The period of the story and the number of characters in it does not make it an easy subject to stage as a play.