Philip's Reviews > One Hundred Years of Solitude

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez
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's review
Nov 22, 10

bookshelves: classics, favorites
Read from October 12 to November 21, 2010


I imagine these people looking and saying, "Yes, but what does it mean?" As literary critics everywhere cringe or roll over in their clichéd graves I approach this text and review the same way. One Hundred Years of Solitude... beautiful, intriguing... but what does it mean? And does it have to mean anything?

Oscar Wilde: "All art is at once surface and symbol. Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril. Those who read the symbol do so at their peril." And what about those who skip across the surface, like a stone? Able only to make so many hops before sinking, blinded by the mud, disoriented by the current to the bottom? What are we?

This was (is) a beautiful book. Like Guernica. Like Dali.

Dali Picture of Geopoliticus

It's religious, and political, and sexual. ... and confusing. And as long as I haven't over-used it already - beautiful.

It's the literary Big Fish and I'm sure people will and have debated what it means, and authorial intent and it won the Nobel Prize for crying out loud, but maybe it's to display on a prominent house wall and be debated.

It's easy to get a handle on the broad and general themes - history is cyclical - not progressive, progress is a myth (and "progress" is evil), go after love, be careful not to let memories or nostalgia bow you down, seek knowledge, the world is mysterious and doesn't always make sense, don't be intimidated of anybody - especially of your past self or selves.

Beyond that it's just conjecture.

The story begins with Jose Arcadio Buendia -the patriarch - and the founding of Macondo. It follows the lineage of his descendants - many living mythically long lives and bringing in enchanted aspects. The dead live, return from the future, invent and disappear - but not in a machine of the gods way - it's more dream-like.

The lineage frustrated me. In order to illustrate his point on the circular view of history, there were 4 Joses, 22 Aurelianos, 5 Arcadios, a couple Ursulas and Remedioses to boot. And Pilar Ternera found herself grandmother or great grandmother to far too many kids. Even with the family tree in the front of the book, it was difficult to tell which Arcadio or Jose or Aureliano was which - especially given the fact that so many of the characters lived past 100. (Or even past 145.)

The book was intriguing. I loved the tidbits that came back into play throughout the book - the ash on the heads of the Aurelianos, Melquiades stopping by for a chat - that's what made it for me.

Like I said, I don't think this was a book to "get." But if you do "get it," don't cliff note it to me. I like it the way it is in my mind.
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Quotes Philip Liked

Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez
“It's enough for me to be sure that you and I exist at this moment.”
Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

Reading Progress

10/17/2010 page 59
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Comments (showing 1-19 of 19) (19 new)

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Jason Phillip you made my day (and today was one where I moved into a new house and unpacked for 13 hours). Nobody has ever said that my review encouraged them to read a book. Thanks. And a 4-star at that. Good. I start school next week, so it's nothing but medical textbooks for me in the next 30 months (well, maybe a novel at Xmas or something--hopefully).

Jason I like the cliff note bit.

JSou This is a great review! It (almost) makes me want to try and re-read this one. : )

Philip Thanks Jason, I hope you find some time to get some leisure reading in there somewhere between medical texts and family and school and all that. As always, good luck.

And thanks Jessica. I won't try to push you over the edge into actual re-reading. Almost is good enough for me.

Reese Philip,
This review has the "right" combination of ingredients to make it a thoroughly satisfying piece.
Applause for your inclusion of Picasso's and Dali's not-meant-to-be-verbal experiences. Your use of their art is the first use of "visuals" that I've seen in a GR review and actually appreciated.

Your review of AN AMERICAN TRAGEDY was among the reasons why a GR friend of mine added AAT to his to-read shelf.
Best wishes,

Jason Good to know Reese. I often put things on a to-read list but forget to note why or from what Goodreader. Consequently I don't follow up with an appropriate kudos.

Philip Thanks Reese.

I'm surprised that nobody's mentioned that Guernica does indeed mean something. (And of course Geopoliticus Child does as well.) Guernica was banned in Spain under Franco because of that meaning.

message 8: by Shawn (new)

Shawn Sorensen Phillip...this is just an amazing review, just amazing. I'm really impressed with the art, the commentary, the breaking down of a complex, important novel. You've hit a grand slam here.

Philip Thanks Shawn. I appreciate that.

Emily Iliani I am following your review from now on; a little late but better than never. The way you relate one branch of art with the other, SUPERB!

Philip Thanks Emily. :)

message 12: by Ania (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ania love the Dali's painting of the guy trying hard to hutch and its dream like atmosphere in relation to to the book. Beautiful review, thanks!

Philip Thanks, Ania.

Stephen M Great review Philip. I just finished this and this review really captured a lot of my experience of the book.

Philip Thanks Stephen.

message 16: by Thea (new) - rated it 3 stars

Thea Best review of such a confusingly surreal and beautiful book. Thanks for reaffirming what I thought I'd concluded about it!

Philip Thanks Thea. I appreciate it.

message 18: by Jan (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jan Your reviewed echoed exactly what I thought - great, great book, but what really did it mean. I have read all the literary criticism and I thought there must be more to this.

Machel Excellent review! My sister's favorite book and the you referenced BIG FISH, which is also her fav. movie!

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