Two Literary Giants: Gabriel García Márquez and William Faulkner
Magical realism, that is, the introduction by a novelist of the improbable and the fantastic within a realistic world, is evident in many of the writings of García Márquez. García Márquez takes the marvelous to great extremes in One Hundred Years of Solitude: gypsies with flying carpets, yellow flowers falling on Macondo like rain, the exaggerated sexual prowess of the Buendía males, and the apparent immortality of both the gypsy Melquíades and the ancient patriarch, José Arcadio Buendía. Though Faulkner is not a magical realist, he also found a sense of the marvelous and wondrous in his world; it is the central theme of some of his best works, especially As I Lay Dying, The Sound and the Fury and Light in August.
Gabo's Debt to Faulkner
Both of these novelists deal with similar societies at a time when they are attempting to survive the jolting effects of civil strife and exploitation. Yet in the final analysis, García Márquez's debt to Faulkner is undeniable. Faulkner left as part of his legacy a moral tone and standard by which human beings could judge his characters and ultimately themselves. His faith in the human race was evident in his Nobel address when he insisted that man would not merely endure but prevail. Faulkner says, "[Man] is immortal, not because he among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul." Thirty-two years later in 1982, García Márquez made reference to Faulkner in his own Nobel address and to the enduring theme of solitude in both of their writings. He says that writers will invent a new utopia, "where no one will be able to decide for others how to die, where love will prove true and happiness be possible."
Both García Márquez and Faulkner seek to understand the human condition in all of its complexity. Macondo exists no longer and Faulkner's death brought the end of Yoknapatawpha, but above all both writers trusted in the hope that lingers propitiously above the ruin and ashes of destruction.
Dr. Harley Oberhelman Texas Tech University
Looking for more about Faulkner and his fictional county? Look no further than several of his novels for the full story of this amazing Southern Gothic setting and its people.
Some of Faulkner's great reads:
The Sound and the Fury
As I Lay Dying
Light in August
Intruder in the Dust