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The General in His Labyrinth

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  19,234 ratings  ·  1,049 reviews
(Book Jacket Status: Jacketed)

Gabriel García Márquez's most political novel is the tragic story of General Simón Bolívar, the man who tried to unite a continent.

Bolívar, known in six Latin American countries as the Liberator, is one of the most revered heroes of the western hemisphere; in García Márquez's brilliant reimagining he is magnificently flawed as well. The novel
Hardcover, 248 pages
Published October 26th 2004 by Everyman's Library (first published March 20th 1989)
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Ahmad Sharabiani
El General en su Laberinto = The General in His Labyrinth, Gabriel García Márquez

The General in His Labyrinth is a 1989 dictator novel by Colombian writer and Nobel laureate Gabriel García Márquez. It is a fictionalized account of the last seven months of Simón Bolívar, liberator and leader of Gran Colombia.

The book traces Bolívar's final journey from Bogotá to the Caribbean coastline of Colombia in his attempt to leave South America for exile in Europe. Breaking with the traditional heroic por
Jan 07, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hispanic, nobel
Idleness was painful after so many years of wars, bitter governments, and trivial loves.

The profundity of Simón Bolívar’s vision became the bane of his life. He was destined to be the man who led the Latin American people to freedom from the imperial rule of Spain. Having broken the shackles of slavery he took over the uncontested leadership of the vast continent as the President with the singular aim of unifying the freed countries of the Americas into "the greatest republic the world has ever
Kara Babcock
I always feel a twinge of pity when someone tells me, “I don’t read for pleasure any more” or “I only read non-fiction.” Most of the pity is sympathy for the fact that, in today’s busy world, we just don’t have the time. Whenever someone expresses awe at the number of books I read in a year and asks me how I do it, I say, truthfully, that I make the time to read, just as I make the time to write these reviews. So I realize that the act of reading is itself a commitment, an investment of time and ...more
Apr 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I heard that Gabriel Garcia Marquez had died, I walked over to my shelf of South American literature and picked up The General in His Labyrinth. The story is about the last days of Simon Bolivar, the Liberator, as he took a 14-day cruise down the Rio Magdalena to the Caribbean, from whence he would ship out for Europe.

But this was not to be. Not only was the Liberator dying, but he had the misfortune of seeing the proud republics he had founded falling prey to disunity and squabbling. In a
Bob Newman
Jun 12, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Inside your labyrinth you’ll meet your own private minotaur

A novel that mixes South American history with legend and the lush verbiage of a Nobel Prize-winning author can’t be bad. Yet, like too much dulce de leche ice cream, this story of the last months of Simon Bolívar, liberator from Spanish colonial rule of much of South America, may prove overwhelming. As the sick, declining hero heads from Bogotá, present day Colombia’s rainy capital, to the tropical northern coast down the Magdalena Rive
Jun 25, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: hard-core Latin American historians only!
Boy, I trudged my way through this fictionalized account of Simón Bolívar's final voyage along the Magdalena River. The prose is sharp and beautiful when it needs to be (this is, after all, García Marquez), but the story held no interest. In fact, I'm tempted to ask in response: what story?

People and places from the General's life are constantly evoked, but on this point I have two major critiques: first, the flashbacks are far too paltry (a page or two at most) to really generate any parallel -
In The General in His Labyrinth, Márquez takes the glorious figure of Simón Bolívar—the man who led the South American peoples in the present states of Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Panama, and Bolivia to their freedom from the Spanish Empire—and pours into the mould of his political imprint on the continent an endlessly humanising tribute. Reimagining the least documented period of Bolívar's life, Márquez situates the liberator to reckon with his mortality and failures on his final journe ...more
The General in His Labyrinth recounts the final voyage of a fascinating historical figure, Simón Bolívar, who secured South America's independence from Spain and was president of several nations, but who failed in his grand ambition to unite the continent. The character of Bolívar is one of flaws and contradictions: a great yet humble man, ambitious in his aims, though not desirous of personal glory. He died in relatively modest conditions, having rejected political power and exhausted his vast ...more
Jun 04, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Garcia Marquez has the uncanny ability to make me fall in love with his characters. No, really, head over the heels in love, crushing hard, stomach churning, heart contracting. It happened the first time many moons ago when I read Nobody Writes to the Colonel, an aching story of loneliness and abandonment that brought me to my knees. This time I fell in love with Simón Bolívar. I can pinpoint the exact moment it happened, too:

Through his father and his mother he [José Laurencio Silva] was a dark
Follows the last few weeks and days of the life of Simon Bolivar as he surrenders political power and travels down the Magdalena River to the coast on his last journey. While he travels there are reflections on his past, his role in the wars of independence against Spain and his political ambitions.

This is an interesting historical novel in (shades of Wolf Hall here) that the author was trying to remodel the popular image of the man. Bolivar has been seen as a founding father for many of the fo
In this book, Gabriel Garcia Marquez gives us his very personal vision of an emblematic figure of modern South American history: Simon Bolivar, “El Libertador”. Herald and hero of independence, fervent defender of Latin American unity, Simon Bolivar is a legend, whose Nobel Prize in literature proposes, in a somewhat irreverent way, to tell the story of the last days the tone of "grandeur and decadence”.

The General in His Labyrinth, it is, therefore, the account of the last trip, that of the fli
Lamski Kikita
Sep 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: those interetsed in Latin American history, the Bolivarian movement, Gabo addicts
Everyone knows of the big historical events that took place in the 1800 during the liberation of Latin America from the Spanish colonization that are of course associated with Simon Bolivar-aka the Liberator. Apart from his vision for a united Latin America that would form the biggest country that would be "half of the world," his wars for integration, and his glories, no one cares to know about his end.

Gabo had to do extensive reasearch for two years, contacting people from so many different wa
“Damn it,' he sighed. 'How will I ever get out of this labyrinth!” ...more
Aug 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An honest and compassionate tribute to a truly remarkable hero in the last days of his life.
Daniel Chaikin

44. The General in His Labyrinth by Gabriel García Márquez
translation: 1990 by Edith Grossman
published: 1989
format: 285 page paperback
acquired: March
read: Aug 8-19
rating: 3½

A novel based on the last several months of life of Simón Bolívar.

After leading the liberation of much of South America from a Napoleon-dominated Spain, Bolívar became a dictatorial-like president of Greater Colombia, a country that included present-day Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Panama, northern Peru, western Guyana and
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Inderjit Sanghera
Sep 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The reader gradually succumbs to the hypnagogic world fashioned by Gabriel Garcia Marquez; a world seen through the eyes of the now old and dying General Simon Bolivar, liberator of South America and revolutionist, but in the eyes of Marquez, a cynical and embittered man whose soul and body have been crushed an insurmountable weight of disillusion. In some ways Marquez is upending typical fictional accounts of great men, which usually concentrate on their greatness and skip their humanity, whils ...more
A masterful tale of Bolivar's last 7 months of life and his journey along the Magdalena River and a planned exile in England. There are flashbacks to Bolivar's triumphs but the book focus is on a tired, sick, broken man who realises the chance to form a great united states of South America has been lost to the entrenched rich families in the various newly created countries.
The level of detail in the story is impressive. Bolivar's ennui and frustration is starkly presented. I need to read more ab
We meet Simon Bolivar here as he floats in the bath meditating, “the ecstasy in which he lay drifting seemed that of a man no longer of this world” (3). What’s at stake: “He had wrested from Spanish domination an empire five times more vast than all of Europe, he had led twenty years of war to keep it free and united, and he had governed it with a firm hand until the week before” (37).

Dying at the moment the novel opens, Bolivar seeks with a “daily mass of ablutions” to “purge his body and spir
Sep 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Chloe by: Lorena K.
Everybody loves a hero. Everybody loves it even more when a hero falls from grace. There are few things that humans enjoy more than taking a powerful person down a peg or two. In fact, we get a sick thrill from it. Whether it’s the rising up of a virginal starlet (take your pick, they’re a dime a dozen) so that we may delight in tearing her to pieces when she is unable to live up to the exceptionally demanding standards of behavior we set for others to abide by, or the fall from grace of an espe ...more
Hoda Marmar
Oct 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Marquez' The General in His Labyrinth is definitely worthy of a second and third read. Where do I begin to tell about this unusual adventure with this book?

1. THE Title.
I love the title, I love that it is based on what Bolivar actually said on his death bed, I love the lingering feeling it evokes, and I love how it glues the whole narrative together for the general is lost in a labyrinth he doesn't seem to free himself from since the first and until the last page of this novel.
“Damn it,' he si
This book is not a work of magical realism; Neither is it an insightful biography. There are flashes of Marquez brilliance (for instance, the prose in the ending), but, overall, this book left me wanting.

I tried to read it several years ago, but didn't have the background. To prepare myself I started a number of Bolivar biographies, but didn't have the background for them either. I recently found what I needed in Marie Arana's "Bolivar: American Liberator" where I learned about Francisco Miranda
Tim Fiester
Sep 22, 2011 rated it it was ok
Garcia Marquez is one of my all-time favorite authors (heck, our daughter is named after him). "One Hundred Years of Solitude" is at #2 on my All-Time Top 5 Books and I like magical realism. Unfortunately, that is where "The General ..." parts ways with me. This book is told in basically a journalistic style. That's not surprising, given that Garcia Marquez worked as a reporter in his early days, but this book could have been so much more if it followed in the wake of his other works, in short, ...more
Jan 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: colombia
A story about the last days of Simon Bolivar. Masterful.
Apr 04, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wavered between a three and four star on this classic but finally settled on three stars. Perhaps it lost something in the translation from Spanish to English but I had a tough time following the narrative. The novel depicts the final voyage of the great Latin American liberator, General Simon Bolivar, down the Magdalena River in 1830. The general has fallen from power and his dreams of a united South American nation-state have deteriorated following the wars of liberation. The book is sort of ...more
Apr 03, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Garcia-Marquez, one of the world’s literary masters, not just of this era but of all time, tells the story of Simon Bolivar’s last months in this thoughtful, moving, elegiac novel. Bolivar is the Great Liberator, freeing the South American holdings of Spain from imperial rule, intending to create a single federalist republic of the former colonial states, a United States of South America, but having won independence, there are squabbles and rebellions among the armies of liberation. Military and ...more
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
Filling in empty Review Boxes today. Very much enjoyed this one. Perhaps it's to be scored slightly lower than G's two big ones ; maybe third or fourth?; I couldn't quite say. But it does rank highly in that little micro=genre known as the dictator novel -- below I, the Supreme and (way) above The Feast of the Goat. I've got a few more of these dictator novels I want to kick out in the coming periods of time. Generally speaking, GGM is really very good, deserving of his accolades ; but I just ca ...more
Jun 02, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Triumphantly Rock Star Great, especially when it comes to use of swear words.

Favorite quotes:

1. "Well, you have chosen the wrong destiny," he said. "The only wars here will be civil wars and those are like killing your own mother."

2. "We have always been poor and we haven't needed anything," he told him.
"The truth is just the opposite," said the General. "We have always been rich and we haven't anything left."
Oct 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
'The General In His Labyrinth' is Marquez's fictional reconstruction of Simon Bolivar's, the liberator of South America from the Spanish, last days. Being an Indian I am not 100% sure of the historical accuracy in the novel, but people expecting a hardcore historical novel may be disappointed as Marquez weaves his own brand of magic interspersing events and actions that you would not expect in a novel of this genre while maintaining the relevance of the genre also. After all, this is a person wh ...more
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Gabriel José de la Concordia Garcí­a Márquez was a Colombian novelist, short-story writer, screenwriter and journalist. Garcí­a Márquez, familiarly known as "Gabo" in his native country, was considered one of the most significant authors of the 20th century. In 1982, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.

He studied at the University of Bogotá and later worked as a reporter for the Colombian

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