Adam's Reviews > One Hundred Years of Solitude

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez
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Mar 28, 08

bookshelves: classics
Recommended to Adam by: I'd rather not say
Recommended for: Academics and their students that are forced to read it.
Read in January, 2007

So I know that I'm supposed to like this book because it is a classic and by the same author who wrote Love in the Time of Cholera. Unfortunately, I just think it is unbelievably boring with a jagged plot that seems interminable. Sure, the language is interesting and the first line is the stuff of University English courses. Sometimes I think books get tagged with the "classic" label because some academics read them and didn't understand and so they hailed these books as genius. These same academics then make a sport of looking down their noses at readers who don't like these books for the very same reasons. (If this all sounds too specific, yes I had this conversation with a professor of mine).

I know that other people love this book and more power to them, I've tried to read it all the way through three different times and never made it past 250 pages before I get so bored keeping up with all the births, deaths, magical events and mythical legends. I'll put it this way, I don't like this book for the same reason that I never took up smoking. If I have to force myself to like it, what's the point. When I start coughing and hacking on the first cigarette, that is my body telling me this isn't good for me and I should quit right there. When I start nodding off on the second page of One Hundred Years of Solitude that is my mind trying to tell me I should find a better way to pass my time.
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Comments (showing 68-117)





message 117: by Emily (new) - rated it 5 stars

Emily So... does that mean you didn't like it?


message 116: by Connie (new) - rated it 1 star

Connie Oh, THANK YOU! I am reading this book now and only have about a third left to go. Like you, I have tried to get through it a few times now. It is so boring. I would have completely given up had I not been waiting for my latest Amazon order I am plum out of books to read at the moment. I just don't understand what the fuss is about. The same things happening over and over, and over again---I get it already---nothing changes, history repeats, life is meaningless (or something like that).


message 115: by Adam (new) - rated it 1 star

Adam Exactly. I only tried reading it when I had no other alternative. I've heard from a few people that the last chapter is really interesting and pulls it together so maybe the solution is to read the first chapter and the last chapter and call it good. Here's hoping your Amazon order comes soon.


message 114: by Leah (new)

Leah Dagen Though it is very hard to get through, this book is definitely a classic in every sense. It started a new literary style called "magical realism" and lead the way for tons of writers after him. There's a reason he's one of the best known Latin American authors of all time. I'm not trying to be one of those people who say "it's good; you're wrong!" I'm just saying it's unfair for you to say this book is not a classic just because you didn't enjoy it.


message 113: by Alina (new)

Alina I think he has every right to say it's not a classic as the majority has to say otherwise.


message 112: by Alejandro (last edited Aug 20, 2008 04:11PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Alejandro I agree with Leah. Just as I dislike some "classics" (many actually), people are entitled to not like this book. However, its place in history is undeniable and it is definitely one of a kind. I highly doubt people dubbed it a "classic" because they didnt understand it (don't worry if its a joke im not actually offended). I just think from my experience, I read it without any of the hype (high school summer reading) and loved it, so I can understand people that loved it without knowing it was supposed to be great


message 111: by Adam (last edited Aug 23, 2008 06:50PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Adam Fair enough. As I said, I recognize that other people love the book for reasons inexplicable to me and apparently many other people. I understand the classic label in reference to the book's undeniable place in history. That said, you can label it "magical realism" or "mystical actuality" or fill in the blank with any other silly academic moniker, it will remain a book best enjoyed with your favorite hallucinogenic. The long and the short of it is that it became far too wacky and circular for me to suspend my disbelief.
I read books for enlightenment, for a challenge to my belief system, for an intellectual opportunity, or for good old fashioned rainy day entertainment. This book provides none of that for me. As a side note, I don't much enjoy post modernist works nor surrealist works, both of which seem to me to share similarities with the Marquez genre. You are kidding yourself if you think that every professor or academic understands as much of the stream of consciousness or magical realism stuff as they like to pretend they do. I stand by my point that the Ellsworth Tooheys of the world love to laud literature that is nonsense because it makes them feel superior. My professor was that person and she ruined introductory literature for a lot of students. I am only painting her with that brush, not anyone else (Alejandro, Leah, Alina obviously) who likes this book. Your responses have been great, and in many ways I wish that I could get into this book, it just isn't my cup of tea.





message 110: by Alina (new)

Alina I think my post was misunderstood, I hated the book, I was just saying that you (and I) have the right to dislike it despite whatever "classic" status it might have among the majority, cause I'm a little sick of seeing that word thrown around.

Sorry if I was too cryptic or something.


message 109: by Adam (new) - rated it 1 star

Adam Hmm, I thought you were making the point that I was clearly of of step with the majority (including by inference yourself) who thinks it is a classic. Please accept my apologies for insinuating that you liked One Hundred Years. I would never knowingly cast that aspersion on someone ;)


message 108: by Emily (new) - rated it 5 stars

Emily I liked it. So there Adam:)


message 107: by Emily (new) - rated it 5 stars

Emily I liked it. So there Adam:)


message 106: by Adam (new) - rated it 1 star

Adam I know, but you've always been a little wacky anyway.


message 105: by Cameron (new) - rated it 1 star

Cameron that was a great review. the smoking comparison captures it well.


message 104: by Chris (new) - rated it 4 stars

Chris I would have to strongly agree with this statement. There are two separate questions being posed here. 1) Is this a classical piece of literature. 2) Did you personally find it entertaining. Those two questions pose an entirely different set of criteria which we should not mix together as readers. We can't tackle them both at the same time. I would say, however, that this book is "good" and that is part of the reason why it is a classic. I can see why someone might have a hard time getting through it, though.


message 103: by Chris (new) - rated it 4 stars

Chris I hope you're not insinuating that we enjoy this book for the same reasons as the professors you have come to despise have. I think you are bringing something completely irrelevant into the conversation by bringing them up. I think most of us are here for our own sincere interest in literature. I loved this book. It was one of the hardest books I have ever read. The style isn't compatible with my personality. I realized that early on however and took steps as I read to remedy that. In the end, I was rewarded with a very personal and authentic reader response interpretation of the story. This doesn't have anything to do with the Ellsworth Tooheys of the world. I don't even know how they got into this. I'm not saying that I enjoyed this book in order to feel superior to other people. It's fine to say that you don't like this book. I don't think it's fine to assume that other people like this book for the wrong reasons.


message 102: by Adam (new) - rated it 1 star

Adam I stated clearly in my "Ellsworth Toohey" post that I was only painting my professor with that brush, not anyone else who likes it. By extension of that statement, that would now include you. No need to take it personally.

That said, you make my original point for me. I don't see the logic in forcing yourself to get through a book. If you have to "take steps early on" to "remedy" your reading experience, I see that as an utter waste of time. You clearly did not and were rewarded with an "authentic reader response." You are certainly welcome to that viewpoint and I'm not trying to say otherwise.

Some books are tougher than others sure, and I am not trying to say all good literature is fluff. I'm simply making the point that when you have to suspend your disbelief so completely and start creating labels like "magical realism," that is the stuff best left to ivory tower academics who like to sit around and debate the finer points.

To say that we cannot discuss both if the book is subjectively "good" and if it is a "classic" at the same time strikes me as double speak. Only in art and literature could that idea find voice. In life, those ideas, suggestions, projects, inventions, technologies, etc that are not good are discarded. If it isn't good, it isn't a classic. You stated at the end of your post that you think it is good, clearly many people agree with you. I make the point that it isn't good, clearly many people agree with me. A debate certainly exists and I'm quite sure we won't resolve it here.




message 101: by Chris (new) - rated it 4 stars

Chris The only reason I took it personally is because you said that for anyone to enjoy it they would have to take a hallucinogen.

I don't agree that we had to create a new genre for this book to fit into in order for it to be a success. It was a success. Then people tried to describe it and some people may or may not have used the term magic realism. Some people say Bob Dylan plays country music but I would disagree. Having lived in Latin America, the story itself was very remeniscent of the folklore I heard while I was there. I'm not sure Marquez really created much of anything new here. People just didn't know what to call it.

I guess we'll just have to disagree on the rest of it.





Katrina Hmmmm... maybe I shouldn't finish it. I was trying to decide and went reading through reviews to help me. I'm on about page 132ish. The lack of plot is what bothers me!


message 99: by Katrina (last edited Mar 28, 2009 10:56PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Katrina Chris wrote: "Having lived in Latin America, the story itself was very remeniscent of the folklore I heard while I was there. I'm not sure Marquez really created much of anything new here..."

Hmmmm... I was wondering if there was some kind of cultural aspect I was missing. So, all of this is basically Latin American folklore? Interesting...




message 98: by Nstob (last edited May 20, 2009 08:52AM) (new)

Nstob Katrina - I felt like I was missing some sort of cultural aspect while reading Love in the Time of Cholera - I think that is part of what makes reading his work difficult and annoying (at least to me).


Esther Adam, I just posted my review, its even in English! I think that this is as book that you definitely need to plow trough, that is speed read it and only slow down when something sexy and exotic is happening. As is with life, not everything is important but you have to go trough the motions of the boring stuff to enjoy the more sensual surprises that occur now and then, if you do this, you will be rewarded (i.e. the life of Remedios the beautiful, or the passions of Amaranta and Aureliano). I suggest that you don't try to keep track of anything and just let it all mesh in, cuz in the end there will be no quiz or book report to write, right? Give it another try sometime. I agree, however that is a long ass book (or PINCHE LIBRO INTERMINABLE CABRON! as I declared many times while reading it) that won't let it self be conquered! But conquer it you must!


message 96: by Adam (new)

Adam Esther wrote: "Adam, I just posted my review, its even in English! I think that this is as book that you definitely need to plow trough, that is speed read it and only slow down when something sexy and exotic is ..."

LOL. You have a compelling arguement. I will try to bring this back into my reading rotation.




Keelan Adam, like you, I have had to open the book multiple times, just to try enduring the first four, if not two pages. Unfortunatley I have to read this for AP English and take notes, which are due in about a week when school starts back. This book is a huge set back to my time table as it is only book 3 of 4 that I must read; luckily the fourth is the Colossus, so that isn't too bad, however getting through One Hundred Years, in the next two days, from only being halfway through it is torture. The book seems to have no solid theme or purpose which makes it just that much more boring. I don't see how this book won a Nobel Prize, as it is just a jumble of words, half the time, containing no relevance.


message 94: by Kim (new)

Kim Thank you for writing the review that I am too chicken to write myself. I read this because Bill Clinton mentioned it in his biography as one of his favourite books, but I only got about half way through before I returned it to the library. It is sooooooo boring. And the characters have absolutely no depth. It's nice to know that it's not just me.


Kenya I love this book and have read it four times. The first time I read it I was taking a Contemporary Literature class in college. I hated the book then and struggled to get through it. The writing style threw me off and everyone seemed to have the same name - it made me nuts! Then a year after graduation I decided that I would re-read it. I loved it the second time around! I think you should definitly give it another chance!


message 92: by John (new)

John Adam, I appreciate what you have to say, but I'm w/ a few others on this thread: the book's a monster, in the best sense. Maybe that 's all I should put in -- *I liked it, so there.* But let me add, more substantially, that a lot of readers enjoy HUNDRED YEARS, first & foremost, for the sturdy old-fashioned values of plot & character. Even the first line's a grabber, surely: "Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice." As astonishing initial note, w/ three or four varieties of suspense dangling from it. I mean, this is narrative full of event, you guys. Full of great richness of psychology too, in particular the women characters. The power that Ursula achieves, in the oppressive society to which she was born, is a throat-catching affirmation of the potential in a woman's spirit. I could go on... but enough. Just, for the good of your immortal soul, come back to HUNDRED YEARS some time.


message 91: by Mike (new)

Mike Zarowitz I was given this book as a gift 10-12 years ago. I was never into magical realism. I stayed up the first night until 3AM reading the book. Woke up the next day and spent the rest reading it. Clearly, the best book I have ever read.

That being said, I fully understand the dichotomy of reactions to the book. I think, especially when it comes to fiction, the book/story must set up a resonance with the reader. If you are in that resonance, it is a fantastic literary experience. If you are not, then it can be an exercise in ultimate boredom. I don't think it says anything about the reader, only that the pace, or story, or reality did not resonate with the reader.

I have a number of friends who have read 100 years, many of them more "literary" than I. Most absolutely loved it, but about the third thought it sucked. Not "an okay book", but sucked. There is no correlation between the response and the reader's literary experience.

It is like a great poem - where the words don't get in the way.


Marisa I will have to agree with you to a point. The English or translated version is boring, the Spanish language version is amazing. Most of insight regarding this book is identified so authentically in the Spanish version that upon translation it is lost. When I read the Spanish version-I absolutely loved it, when I picked up the English version it lost its meaning to several chapters in fact most of the book. Don't overlook a good book based on bad translation. Also if you ever read Pablo Neruda's poetry-also lost in translation. Spanish version of all his poems are absolutely phenomenal.


message 89: by A (last edited Mar 31, 2010 07:07PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

A Addis I think the most irritating thing about this review and all reviews like this, is that you haven't even read the whole thing. Comparing trying to read it to smoking is getting a cheap laugh and is laughable in itself. 'Trying' it a few times isn't good enough. I 'tried' to read The Satanic Verses about three times, and on the fourth I persevered and was certainly rewarded, very greatly.

"Sometimes I think books get tagged with the "classic" label because some academics read them and didn't understand and so they hailed these books as genius." Is equally quite a ridiculous thing to state. As if academics are here to appease (or pretend to?!) people? If you speak to an academic I'm pretty sure they would have understood the book and would be able to give you an academic answer. They are academics after all, but something tells me you might not have bothered with that part.

You seem to have a problem with professors and academics, it comes across you think they have some sort of superiority complex where they 'pretend' to know about things. I find this odd, just because you don't enjoy or simply don't understand a book there really isn't a need to be bitter, some things are difficult to grasp sometimes.. You clearly don't like this sort of genre and are hostile because it has been toted as a 'classic' by intellectuals. You think they most probably aren't intellectual because you don't get it. You've even said you don't like postmodern stories, so it's pretty ignoble of you to take it out on academics.

It might seem like I'm defending the book, but I haven't read it. I am planning to of course, otherwise I wouldn't be here. I've noticed this book seems to have a lot of characters. There's always a recurrent theme of people being impatient with books with too many characters or a jumpy narrative. As for me, I'll get a detailed opinion from an academic, which I don't have to accept. But I might accept it over a review where a quarter of it was about not smoking. Non-reviews kind of irritate me, sorry!


Marisa You got all that from my 6 lines. Chill. relax. take a deep breath. Smell the roses. You are going to miss the beauty in things. Bottom line I like the book in Spanish not in English. People liked Chariots of Fire....


message 87: by A (new) - rated it 5 stars

A Addis I was replying to Adam's review not you Marisa.


Marisa hahaha.


message 85: by Annelida (last edited Apr 15, 2010 07:30PM) (new) - added it

Annelida Hmmm.. To me it seems like something of a cross of a South American soap opera and allegory. I am about 30% through the book and I know I am not qualified to comment on it as a whole just yet, but I feel qualified to comment on what I have read thus far. What do I think? It is absolutely disgusting, and I really don't enjoy reading half of the scenes. Is it just me or is the book VERY VERY VERY disturbing in some parts? I can agree that at times it is quite enthralling and beautifully written, but some parts are just a hodgepodge of unnecessary details.


Andrea Woodacre I highly doubt that academics praise of this novel is because they don't understand it. It seems more likely that their acknowledgment and appreciation of the novel is because of the discussion that lends itself to such a complex work.


message 83: by Adam (last edited Aug 10, 2010 12:32PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Adam So, I've been away from Goodreads for awhile and hadn't seen all the comments on the review. I find it fascinating the animosity and righteous pride this book whips up in readers. For that, I give Marquez great credit because literature that inspires strong opinions is inherently valuable. I revere conversation and enjoy the varied opinions about this literature and its labels as "good," "classic," "pointless," "meandering," "interminable," (sorry, those last two were mine). But clearly the book inspires passion on both sides and I think that is spectacular. Andrea, I think you make the most salient point of all in the academic conversation. The discussion is certainly valuable.

Mike, you also make a very good point and perhaps enjoying this book comes down when you read it and where you are in life at the time. I agree that the reaction to it isn't always based in "literary experience" and the opinions range the gamut. John, I could not agree more-that first sentence is absolutely brilliant. Even just reading it again in your quote makes me want to give the book another try. But then I remember that the rest of the book is a letdown after that first line. I even tried to reread this after I heard the Stereolab and subsequent Iron & Wine song quoting the book "Across the river there's all kinds of magical instruments, while we keep on living like monkeys. Incredible things are happening in this world. Magical things are happening in this world." I still couldn't get into it.

I think the book is like watching a preview of a movie where all of the funny parts are in the preview and make you want to watch it. Then, when you actually see the movie, you realize that the rest of it is just filler and you would have been just fine seeing the preview only. Alfred, that was for you, hopefully I get a cheap laugh on that one also. I find it outrageously funny that you have not read the book but commented that you are irritated with my review because I haven't finished it. When you "plow through it" and "don't get conquered" by it or "remedy your reading experience" to finish it, please come back and tell me why I'm wrong to dislike it. In the meantime, as I've said in multiple posts I am speaking about one professor. Like it or not, some academics talk to hear the sound of their own voice. And yes, I "bothered" to have the discussion with her about the book. When the conversation became as circular as this novel, I ended it. Also, you make my point for me with "...just because you don't enjoy or simply don't understand a book there really isn't a need to be bitter, some things are difficult to grasp sometimes." Bingo! The default argument rears its ugly head again. I don't like it because I am too stupid to understand it. Try again. Please read The Fountainhead and then you'll get the context of what I'm talking about. Not everything that academia deems to be good is in fact worthy of reading, especially with the myriad of literary choices available.

By the way, it doesn't seem at all like you are defending the book, your entire comment is something entirely different than a defense of the book...


message 82: by Adam (new) - rated it 1 star

Adam Also, Marisa you make another great point. Books are typically much better in their original language. I have read many books by Balzac, Voltaire, Rabelais, Camus that are significantly richer in French than the translation. Maybe I should learn Spanish!


Heidi I'm so glad I read these comments. This book was a gift from a good friend who loved it, and I felt almost guilty for not enjoying it. I AM going to finish it, and I even look forward to that last chapter, if it really does shed light on all the rest, but this will never be on my read-again shelf. Too many books, too little time.


message 80: by Uva (new) - rated it 5 stars

Uva Rossa Leah wrote: "Though it is very hard to get through, this book is definitely a classic in every sense. It started a new literary style called "magical realism" and lead the way for tons of writers after him. The..."
Leah, with all due respect, Marquez didn't start style called 'magical realism', this stile existed way before he published his firts novel and Bulgakov and Borges were one of the most celebrated authors in this style


Andrew I am surprised that someone who likes to read fiction could NOT like this book. But that's how things are. There are people who've read every Steven King novel, and others who insist that John LeCarre knows how to write. I would say JLC knows how to tell a story, but writes the clunkiest prose imaginable, almost unforgivable. And I have never read a Steven (or is it Stephen?) King novel. Different strokes for different folks as we say in Poland. Still, not like 100 Years? That's a new one on me. As for Love in a Time of Cholera, it disappointed me because I wanted it to be another 100 Years. Autumn of the Patriarch was impenetrable, I thought; one of those books like Finnegan's Wake and Gravity's Rainbow that seems to be one long, often excruciating conceit.


Rolando Ok: no, no, no.

This book was first popular in Latin America, and, not as Adam would think, it was a popular success: a bestselling book.

I hate it when people feel forced to like things because scholars say it's great. Nobody's obligating you to like it, man! You're complaining against the wind. I'm not saying it's not okay for you not to like it. That's fine. It's this whole discourse of "aaah scholars are horrible aaah" that just aggravates me.


message 77: by zaK (new) - rated it 5 stars

zaK young I understood the book and am NOT an academic. I mean, it's not like Finnegan's Wake or Gertrude Stein's America ; the story is intelligible, only fantastic. But then, I enjoy cigarettes too, to follow your simile. To each his own, I suppose?!


message 76: by Clark (new)

Clark Zlotchew Adam wrote: "Also, Marisa you make another great point. Books are typically much better in their original language. I have read many books by Balzac, Voltaire, Rabelais, Camus that are significantly richer in F..."

I would agree with Adam, but I'd give the novel two or three stars. It's too much like Harry Potter in that just about anything can happen. The beautiful woman who one day levitates into the stratosphere and disappears. The baby born with a pig's tail, etc. I waded through the entire novel in Spanish, and was left feeling that Garcia Marquez wrote this under the influence of LSD or similar. Is it "magic realism"? Well, the fact is that there is absolutely no agreement on what the term means. Just one example: Some Latin American critics date the beginning of magic realism in Latin America (it started in Europe both in literature and painting!)to Borges' first short story (early 1930s), and consider Borges as the foremost practitioner of magic realism, while other critics claim that Borges is not even a writer of magic realism. People seem to conflate magic realism with surrealism, the fantastic, the marvelous (e.g. fairy tales), so that the term becomes meaningless.


message 75: by Nina (new) - rated it 4 stars

Nina I had the exact experience with these two books: in reverse. I read 100 years first and the book had a tremendous impact on me. I like to describe it as an equatorial Grimm's Fairy Tale. with it's magical realism and metaphor. Love in the Time of Cholera on the other hand paled in comparison. Is there a term for that...being introduced to an author by one novel and then being biased to it? I'm not sure but I think it's a phenomenon that occurs frequently.


message 74: by Clark (new)

Clark Zlotchew A great number of people use the term "magic realism" or "magical realism" without having any idea of what it is. Would some of the writers like to provide a definition?


message 73: by Jeff (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jeff Maston I like your cigarette metaphor. I love cigarettes, maybe thats why I love this book.


message 72: by Clark (new)

Clark Zlotchew Leah,
Looking back, I see I was very harsh in my comment. Please forgive me.
Clark


message 71: by Salma (new) - rated it 1 star

Salma Mousa Wow.. You are so right. The book is TERRIBLE. Just bc it's a classic doesn't mean I have 2 like it.. I made to the end of the book from the 1st time, though..^^


message 70: by Clark (new)

Clark Zlotchew Salma, I don't know which book you're talking about, or who you're agreeing with. Can you clarify?


message 69: by A (last edited Dec 02, 2011 04:08PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

A Addis I haven't been on here for a while. Wow.

Adam - "I find it outrageously funny that you have not read the book but commented that you are irritated with my review because I haven't finished it."

That's kind of an odd thing to say, sorry, no offence. I think everyone is entitled to read a review of a book even though they might not have read the book itself. If you find that 'outrageously' funny, then we definitely don't share the same sort of humour. It's irrelevant whether I've read the book or not, you're the one writing the 'review' not me (just to state the obvious) (you making me laugh now). It's irritating because it's a complete non-review (of 250 pages), there's no information in it whatsoever. The point being, I wouldn't actually post such a 'review' without bothering to finish a book and blaming the academics for why it's perceived to be good. I'm still intrigued with the notion of discussing the book with an academic with only partially reading it as well. Ok I'll admit, I'm actually jealous of this skill you have now.

I actually have read the book now, and I loved it. It's just the kind of book I like though. Post-modern, magical realist, all the academia nonsense they use to describe it y'know..

"Not everything that academia deems to be good is in fact worthy of reading" Each to their own, no-one is going to agree. I think the book is worthy of a great deal (which it has achieved already) so it's largely a waste of time typing this.

But thanks for the review, might just try your way next time when I'm reviewing. I'll start a book, not finish it because I didn't like it, talk to professor and claim they are pretending to know about things, then compare it to injecting heroine or something afterwards.


message 68: by Adam (new) - rated it 1 star

Adam Alfred, by all means, take a step back from the ledge and join the many intelligent, thoughtful responses from people on this thread who have offered a reason to like the book. All you've done so far is critique my "review." I'll be the first to concede that it isn't so much a review as it is an opinion commentary (I didn't see that category available on Goodreads or I would have selected it). When I wrote this review/non review, it was aimed mostly at my sister in law with whom I share a snarky, sarcastic brand of humor. I've frankly been surprised by how it resonates with many people and by the ensuing discussion. It has been enlightening for me.

Why are you spending time arguing about a "non review?" If the point of the discussion is the book itself, why not offer up a good critique of the book and sell the reasons why I'm wrong? I'm perfectly willing to listen to a reasoned argument. John's for instance. I mean, even I agree that first line is a spectacular bit of writing. His comment almost, almost made me pick up 100 years again.


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