Acquaintance With Letters

One Hundred Years of Solitude

Posted in Uncategorized by Sagarika on August 20, 2011

When a Salman Rushdie says that a certain book is ‘the greatest novel in any language…’ my eyes not only stop to consider reading the book but the mind wanders to what must be the book about. To say that Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude is considered a master piece transcending time would be an understatement.

It sometimes becomes difficult to read without being affected by the reverence this book receives worldwide. But chapter after chapter, page after another I got to know the reasons for this admiration. For instance after I began reading, the first chapter wasn’t a beginning of the sorts but a scene in the middle of a story. But by the end of the chapter I was held captivated by the description of the scene. Only after reading a couple of hundred pages I realised the importance of the fragment I read in the beginning.

The book deals with reality and illusion, war and tradition, values and corruption, human logic and destiny and finally time and magic.  Yes magic, in its most real form which creates a sense of mysticism in the story. The story revolves around the Buendìa family of a village called Macondo. There is no real lead or hero of the book except the Buendìa family itself but has some very interesting acquaintances of the family including the gypsies. What makes it interesting to read is that you become a part of the tradition of the family, when you know about the family history better than the later generations of the family; it is easier to comprehend the larger picture.

From the very title of the book to its last word, it seems we’ve travelled a full circle of life, that meaning quiet literally. The book leads us to different places with the characters; we drift with them without actually realising that we’ve travelled so far. And with the same subtlety in writing we reach back to Macondo. The book narrates the reality, paints the past to understand the present in totality and surprises us with the future of each character.

The author has such patience to describe each and every thing with admirable precision that sometimes it’s hard to blink while reading. After reading the book I exhaled in disbelief about the knowledge the author has of not only human feelings, emotions, psychology but about the very art of writing as well. The capability of the author to honestly describe human psyche and behaviour is one to be applauded. Once I finished the book, one of the few things I managed to think was that ’Is it even possible to write something like this, think it all up?’ The story is complicated, the characters unpredictable, people so many in number, political issues which the world faces even today and to top it all up it is the people who make things complicated and bring about reform afterwards. The story spans from the very foundation of a village to its end and tells of the happiness and sorrow both destiny and nature bring about on this village. The book gives such grave insight on rebel movements as it does on the very nature of human beings. This book is far too diverse to be categorised into a type of writing.

The book depicts the nature of humans in a way that is real and genuine yet manages to surprise us with unpredictability of words and events. The book has its own history of the village, an uncertain present and a future held in a manuscript.

Combining so many themes in a single book artistically and yet managing to weave it all together in a fabric of magic and tradition is what keeps the plot interesting. The story of the book, it seems is the story of humanity compressed in time and space told through the tale of the Buendìa family. It tells of almost everything the world is made of love, family, nature, conflict, war, destiny, illusion and traditions. It really is something to be read.