Thursday, April 17, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Remembering Marquez and His Chronicle


Throwback Thursday is a new meme @ Peggy Ann's Post  in which one shares 'old stuff': books, pictures, movies, T.V. shows. Lovely concept, isn't it?

I have just heard the news that Gabriel Garcia Marquez is no more and so I thought that it'd be fitting to look  back at the first book that I read of him.




My introduction to Marquez was rather late in the day. He was already a renowned, much-translated, Nobel-prize winning author when I first heard of him. Everybody, but everybody, swore by his One Hundred Years of Solitude. Interested, I picked it up... and gave it up. The multi-generational story about the Buendia family which effectively narrates the history of Columbia written in a magic-realist style was beyond my comprehension. So though my brother-in-law and some of my colleagues were his ardent fan, I wasn't enamoured. He was one of those authors whom one 'must read'... but hardly ever did.

All that was to change when I read Chronicle of a Death Foretold. A non-linear narrative, multiple-points-of-view, an anonymous narrator, suspect reliability, a murder and its re-construction had me spell bound.






 “There had never been a death more foretold,”


A small coastal-town in Columbia is abuzz because a bishop is to arrive that very day to bless the union of the local beauty Angela Vicario to the handsome, wealthy outsider Bayardo San Roman. The marriage however, ends the first night itself when Angela is sent back to her parental home by Bayardo. After being beaten by her enraged family, Angela reveals the name of her seducer:
She only took the time necessary to say the name. She looked for it in the shadows, she found it at first sight among the many, many easily confused names from this world and the other, and she nailed it to the wall with her well-aimed dart, like a butterfly with no will whose sentence has always been written. ‘Santiago Nasar,’ she said.

This puts her twin brothers Pedro and Pablo in a dilemma. Their code of Family honour demands that they kill Santiago. But he also happens to be their friend and, in fact, had been celebrating the wedding with them in a drunken revelry at the local whore-house. Keen that somebody should stop them from carrying out the murder, the twins go on broadcasting it to the whole town. A death this foretold surely would not occur, but it does...




Decades later, the narrator, a cousin of Angela, a callow youth at the time and now a journalist, tries to reconstruct the events of that particular day, interviewing the surviving members of the drama, trying to guess at their intentions, pointing out the unreliability of both memories and motives.... and comes to no concrete conclusion, only to the image of a town unwilling to face its own complicity in a murder which had made of the town an open wound.



Adieu Marquez. Thanks for the books. May you RIP.



*

First Line: "On the day they were going to kill him, Santiago Nasar got up at five-thirty in the morning to wait for the boat the bishop was coming on".

Title: Chronicle of a Death Foretold.
Original Title: Crónica de una muerte anunciada




Original Language: Spanish
Author: Gabriel Garcia Marquez
First Published: 1981

Other Books read of the same author: One Hundred years of Solitude, Of Love and Other Demons.


12 comments:

  1. Very intriguing, Neer. I have never heard of this author before. Thanks for linking up!

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    1. Thanks for the meme Peggy. I hope you try Marquez once.:)

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  2. Neeru - What a lovely tribute. His work truly broadened my horizons, and I learned a lot about literature, culture, writing and language from reading it. He will be missed.

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    1. Thanks a lot Margot. I too learnt a lot about Latin America from his books. But I also find a universality in his books. The scenario in this book - honour killings, the concept of a woman's honour, the different norms regarding male and female sexuality - could very well have taken place in certain locales in India.

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  3. What a wonderful post. I had recently thought that I should read some of his books. This one would be perfect to start with.

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    1. Thanks a lot Tracy. Do read this book. There are so many layers to the murder. I'd love to read your thoughts about it.

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  4. A great author - well worth celebrating Neeru - thanks.

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    1. Thanks Sergio. He certainly wrote some very fine books.

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  5. I'm with Margot: wonderful tribute to a wonderful writer! I prefer Gabriel Garcia Marquez's works translated by Gregory Rabassa .

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    1. Thanks a lot George. Unfortunately I don't remember the names of the translators. Real shame actually since without them I wouldn't have been able to read his books.

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  6. I admit I tried to read One Hundred Years of Solitude and didn't finish it, for all that he was a brilliant writer (so I have been told).

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    1. Richard, as I wrote above, I too couldn't read SOLITUDE the first time. But after reading CHRONICLE, I went back to it and really liked it. Some of the passages were very moving. His style is not very easy and it does take time to get into the book but nevertheless I'd ask you to give him one more chance.:)

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