Gabriel Garcia Marquez is a master of lush proses, vivid descriptions and also a literary alchemist who takes all the elements of an epic story and produces a novel that will leave you enchanted. Set on the exotic Caribbean coast at the dawn of the twentieth century, it tells the story of this seemingly hopeless teenage romantic Florentino Ariza and the object of his affection, the beautiful and mysterious Fermina Daza. Set in a time where Cholera, a disease which ravages towns and leaves death in its wake. and certainly a metaphor for the power and madness of love.
From the moment he first sees her, he is consumed with love and desire for the beautiful Fermina and is completely intoxicated with love or certainly what he feels is undeniably love. Marquez is beautifully skilled as a writer and leaves you with an immersive read. He is someone who understands the nuances of human condition and offers profound insights.
Riza rigorously pursues Fermina with romantic missives designed to disarm her but in fact his determination simply leaves her amazed. Fortunately to help with the matters of love we have her trusted aunt Escolastica Daza who uses her feminine wiles to help young love along. Marquez writes “it was a year they fell into devastating love. Neither one could do anything about the other, dream about the other and wait for letters with the same `impatience they felt when they answered them.”
Unfortunately for the lovelorn couple, Fermina`s father comes to know about the affair and makes a suggestion to the lover. “So I have come to make a request of you.. “Get out of my way”. The path of love never runs smoothly as the old adage goes. Yet consumed by romance, driven by love and desire, he replies, “There is no greater glory than to die for love” ” He decides to take her on a long journey. Even during the journey, the embers of love are kept alive and far from being a love supernova, Florentino keeps his love forever iridescent and prevents it from becoming the ghostly vapours of the past through Florentino`s steady stream of telegrams.
But on her return from her father`s imposed exile, she has a chance encounter with her love deity Florentino and the reality of seeing Florentino delivers a thousand cuts to her cherished image. Marquez writes “in an instant the magnitude of her own mistake was revealed to her and she asked herself, appalled, how her own mistake could have nurtured such a chimera for so long and with such ferocity” Marquez takes your own romantic spirits to a high only to send them crashing. Is this a tragi-comic take on modern life ? Reality has a way of quickly sobering you from a bout of romanticism.
Yet Florentino`s early love affair is again derailed when the extremely marriageable suitor Dr Juvenal Urbino becomes completely besotted with Fermina and from then on begins the merry dance of wooing his new found love and eventually marries her. Cruel fate somehow gives Florentino an opportunity to win Fermina`s love when her husband dies in a bizarre accident. Does he finally win her love again ?
Yet far from living in regrets, Florentino pursues a series of romantic affairs as a tonic for his troubles. But does his romantic dalliances sully the whole idea of love? In his later years, his desire traverses into a dark obsession. Or does it ? You will have to decide.
This is a book for the eternal optimist, the hopeful rather then hopeless romantic. Marquez`s story prompts you to ask Is he in love with the very notion of love ? Is teenage love real love ? Or just an ephemeral passion or even a powerful emotion mistaken for love. When does enduring love become an obsession ? Maybe love for the real romantic is enduring, impregnable and above all unquestionable. Who are we cynics to suggest otherwise ? Marquez`s writing is wonderfully prosaic, witty and seduces you with his quixotic writing and wonderful insights.
Did you know ?
The first English translation was published in the USA by Alfred A Knopf, Inc, New York and simultaneously in Canada by Random House of Canada Ltd Toronto 1988.Published by Penguin Books 1989. It was translated by Edith Grossman (born March 22, 1936). She is an award-winning American Spanish-to-English literary translator and is one of the most important translators of Latin American fiction in the past century, translating the works of Nobel laureate Mario Vargas Llosa, Nobel laureate Gabriel García Márquez, Mayra Montero, Augusto Monterroso, Jaime Manrique, Julián Ríos and of Álvaro Mutis.
About The Author:
Gabriel Marcia Marquez was born in Aracataca Columbia in 1928 and studied at University of Bogata. He has published several novels including One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967)