What an enchanting story. I wasn’t sure what to expect when reading One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Marquez. It was a recommendation of magical realism. The agent was right.
The novel depicts the fictional town of Macondo, seen through the eyes of the Buendia family. Rather than a chronology, the story has this gentle temporal undulation, where time flows forward and recedes, each event connecting to another in the past or future. The language is lush and charming. I found many passages worth rereading for their craft. It is a lovely work, even though I cannot say I fully appreciate it.
The characters are full of passion, love, madness and faith. But I could not grasp exactly what each of them most desired, what their personalities were and what ultimately mattered. In many ways they are opaque to me. Maybe this is due to the ebb-and-flow of time as well as the difficulty of keeping characters straight as many share the same name (four generations of Jose and Aureliano, for example).
The evocative prose draws me in, and wonderful moments of magical realism keep me reading, but I’m just not completing connecting. Perhaps I need to reread the novel more carefully.
As for the magical realism, the books is suffused with strange, miraculous and sometimes funny occurences. They are described as ordinary as anything else, but in many ways they don’t have the same impact on me as when Marquez describes ice and magnets early in the book. To the characters, science is magical, whereas moments that are magical to this reader are not especially noted by the characters who witness them.
Have you read it? What do you think?