We are in the midst of what my friend and Nobel Prize winning author Toni Morrison calls "one of the five most important books in the world!"
Have you ever read something so fantastical, that's so full of the most profound insight? As he weaves magic and reality Gabriel García Márquez gives us a gift of total freedom—the freedom to see life from beyond its typical boundaries. Every page takes you deeper into a wonderful maze of innocence and experience, dreams and reality, past and future—while revealing the madness and miracles within each of us.
As we enter the saga, the village of Macondo exists as if in a dream, doesn't it? Macondo is a bit like Eden: isolated, primitive, beautiful and peaceful; filled with young people—untouched by death. As García Márquez describes, "The world was so recent that many things lacked names, and in order to indicate them it was necessary to point." (page 1) Indeed, ice—one of the most basic creations on earth—is declared at the end of the first chapter to be "the great invention of our time." (page 19) What a surprising way to express the naïve hope and innocence—the wild misunderstandings and ironies—of the world he is inventing!
But just like Eden, as the outside world touches it, Macondo's innocence is inevitably shattered. The yearning, the quest to find answers to the unanswerable, the struggle between the known and unknown—the Journey of Life—takes us away! I told you this was a big story!
The gypsies who come regularly to Macondo cast their spell on José Arcadia Buendía, its founder. He becomes obsessed with everything the gypsy Melquíades can sell him: magnets, ice, theories that the world is round, alchemy to double gold.
Once a strong and natural leader, José Arcadio Buendía's endlessly searches for more, to the point where "the whole village was convinced that (he) had lost his reason." (page 5) He takes the village on a recklessly failed quest to connect Macondo with the modern world—"…they went ahead like sleepwalkers, through a universe of grief." (page 12) Never finding the route to the rest of the world, never building the future of his dreams, José Arcadia Buendía is driven mad by grief and disappointment.
He ends part one of Gabriel García Márquez's legend, a broken man, tied to a tree so he doesn't harm himself, "soaked with rain and in a state of total innocence." He has "bitten" from the tree of knowledge…and it destroys him.
And that is only one theme in this hypnotic trance of a book!
It is José Arcadia Buendía's wife, Úrsula, who ultimately runs the family for one hundred years , and connects Macondo with the modern world. Searching for something real—her son who has run away—Úrsula finds the route out of Macondo—and she brings back the merchants and government officials who take Macondo to the future. For García Márquez, it is women like his own mother, who are the true force of life. Rooted to place, firm in reality yet at ease with the supernatural, García Márquez's women rule.
How will the generations fare? The Buendía sons each pursue their own quests, in the spirit and the earthly worlds. Love, war, invention, violence and heroics are ahead…not to mention ghosts, magic and a universe of surprise.
Keep reading! We could ponder this book forever!
Printed from Oprah.com on Sunday, December 8, 2013