Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The General in His Labyrinth” as Want to Read:
The General in His Labyrinth
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The General in His Labyrinth

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  18,222 ratings  ·  937 reviews
General Simon Bolivar, “the Liberator” of five South American countries, takes a last melancholy journey down the Magdalena River, revisiting cities along its shores, and reliving the triumphs, passions, and betrayals of his life. Infinitely charming, prodigiously successful in love, war and politics, he still dances with such enthusiasm and skill that his witnesses cannot ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published October 7th 2003 by Vintage (first published March 20th 1989)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.69  · 
Rating details
 ·  18,222 ratings  ·  937 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The General in His Labyrinth
This is wonderful. Dense with historical incident, deft characterization, and the telling detail that is García Márquez's hallmark. It's the story of Simón Bolívar--he who liberated South America from Spanish colonial tyranny--and his retreat from public life just prior to his death. The great trick of the novel is to make condensed passages of historical summary ring with life through the recollections of the dying General. Predictably perhaps he obsessively catalogs his enemies' perfidies whic ...more
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: fiction, nobel, hispanic
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
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 -
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
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
Lamski Kikita
Sep 11, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Aug 22, 2018 rated it liked it

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
“Damn it,' he sighed. 'How will I ever get out of this labyrinth!” ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Inderjit Sanghera
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
Tim Fiester
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  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: colombia
A story about the last days of Simon Bolivar. Masterful.
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  ·  review of another edition
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
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."
'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
Errol Orhan
Jun 19, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Marquez has written quite a few acclaimed masterpieces, and I like to think that The General in His Labyrinth is one of them.

I bought the book when I was on the airport of Budapest. Although I wasn't really intent on buying a book, I stumbled across the penguin version of this book at the airport's bookstore. I had already read Hunderd Years of Solitude and Love in Times of Cholera (and found them truly magical), but I had heard that Marquez had also written some books that had a political setti
May 19, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is very little magic realism here from the master of that form.

This is stylized journalism at its best on the last days in the life of Simon Bolivar, the Liberator of America (comprised of only the upper half of South America as we know it today), as he travels the Magdalena River to board a ship to Europe and head off into self-imposed exile, a ship he never boards. His dream for a united country emerging out of the land he liberated from the Spanish is in tatters, for narrow self-enteres
Michael VanZandt
A provocative read into the psyche of Bolivar. I feel as though I am hamstrung by my own ignorance of South American history during this period, as well as much of Bolivar's life.

It was fascinating to read into the inner politics between his generals and him. The names really lacked meaning they should have.

All that set aside, Marquez does an admirable job delving into the existential questions that Bolivar faced, or that Bolivar should have been asking himself in the first place. The novel slo
Jackson Cyril
Mar 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"It was the end. General Simon Jose Antonio de la Santisima Trinidad Bolivar y Palacios was leaving forever. He had wrested from Spanish domination an empire five times more vast than all of Europe, he had led twenty years of wars to keep it free and united, and he had governed it with a firm hand until the week before, but when it was time to leave he did not even take away with him the consolation that anyone believed in his departure. The only man with enough lucidity to know he really was go ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Zorro
  • Una Historia de Ayer
  • Hopscotch
  • ما زلتُ حياً في مكان ما
  • Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter
  • The War of the End of the World
  • La ciudad y los perros
  • Le Zèbre
  • Sobre héroes y tumbas
  • الشبح الذي جاء يعتذر
  • The Book of Sand and Shakespeare's Memory
  • Ficciones
  • María
  • The Green House
  • Conversation in the Cathedral
  • The Invention of Morel
  • Buddhism: The Religion of No-Religion
  • The Feast of the Goat
See similar books…
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

Related Articles

In a year that seems to present new challenges for us at every turn, Julia Alvarez’s latest novel, Afterlife, has arrived at the perfect time.
47 likes · 14 comments
“Freedom is often the first casualty of war.” 191 likes
“I'll never fall in love again... it's like having two souls at the same time.” 109 likes
More quotes…