Macondo
Gabo Works
Fiction
The following works of fiction have all appeared in English translation. They are listed in order of their original, Spanish-language publishing date.

Contents
Leaf Storm
No One Writes to the Colonel
In Evil Hour
One Hundred Years of Solitude
The Autumn of the Patriarch
Innocent Eréndira
Collected Stories
Chronicle of a Death Foretold
Collected Novellas
Love in the Time of Cholera
The General in his Labyrinth
Strange Pilgrims
Love and Other Demons
Memories of My Melancholy Whores

Leaf Storm

Translated by Gregory Rabassa.

1. Leaf Storm and Other Stores. HarperCollins, 1979, ISBN: 0-06-075155-X; Paperback $12.95. [Browse/Purchase]

2. Collected Novellas. HarperPerennial of HarperCollins, 1999, ISBN 0-06-93266-X; Paperback $13.95. [Browse/Purchase]

This story was written in 1952 as La hojarasca, after visiting his old home in Aracataca and while under the influence of Faulkner and Sophocles. After one publisher’s rejection, a self-critical García Márquez tossed it into a drawer. In 1955, when he was in Central Europe, his friends in Bogotá rescued it and had it published.
The book marks the first appearance of Macondo, his famous mythical village. (Macondo means “banana” in Bantu, and it was the name of a banana plantation near his hometown of Aracataca.) However, the Macondo of Leaf Storm is a very different Macondo than that of One Hundred Years of Solitude. This Macondo is a devastated place, lonely and broken down, existing in the povertized solitude left when the banana company pulled up and went away. (The “leaf storm” of the title, a Colombian slang term.) Drenched by rain, the town emits a palpable odor of decay. The people are closed and bitter, quick to judge and harsh in their sentences. Living among them is the Colonel, a honorable man who takes it on himself to fulfill a promise he made years ago: to bury the Doctor, a salacious and parsimonious foreigner who had the distinction of being the most hated man in Macondo. The story revolves around the relationship between the Doctor and the Colonel’s family, and the difficult task of burying the man the rest of the town would rather see rot, forgotten and unattended.
La hojarasca is a work which clearly shows both the writer’s past influences and present state of mind, but also points towards his future development. Faulkner-like, the narrative is told from three different points of view which shift throughout the story: the Colonel, his embittered daughter, and her innocent young son. Each of them see the same events, but each interpret them differently; and by this technique, we see many sides of Macondo as well as its past, present and future.
This novella is an interesting read if you have already read some of Gabriel García Márquez’s later – and much better – works, but I wouldn’t start with it. However, for the enthusiast of his more mature works, it’s quite fascinating to see how he paints the characters and the town before he developed his celebrated “magical realism” style. Their emotions are stark and bare, and the narrative leaves the situations untouched by sentiment or whimsy. (Although the beginnings of his “enchanted” Macondo can be barely glimpsed in the sermons of the Pup and the ghost-haunted daughter of the barber.) Some readers have indicated that the narrative comes across as being a bit stilted, and I am inclined to agree with this. There is also a certain sense of repetition in the prose which tends to get tiring; a device which he later modified and used much more effectively.
The Harper Collins edition includes four stories from the 1972 Spanish volume La incréible y triste historia da la cándida Eréndira, and two other earlier stories, “Nabo” and “Monologue of Isabel watching the rain in Macondo.” Leaf Storm itself was later published in Collected Novellas.

No One Writes to the Colonel

Translated by J. S. Bernstein.

1. No One Writes to the Colonel and Other Stores. HarperCollins, 1979, ISBN: 0-06-075157-6; Paperback $12.95. [Browse/Purchase]

2. Collected Novellas. HarperPerennial of HarperCollins, 1999, ISBN 0-06-93266-X; Paperback $13.95. [Browse/Purchase]

El coronel no tiene quien le escriba was written in 1956-1957, when García Márquez was broke and unemployed in Paris. Having gone through eleven copies and wearing out a typewriter, he tied it up with a red ribbon and tossed it in his suitcase. Years later in 1961, his friends in Mexico City found it and had it published.
No One Writes to the Colonel is a fascinating, wonderful story. Having moved out from the shadow of Faulkner (He jokingly claims he did this “by reading Hemingway”) García Márquez went on to create an absolute jewel of a novella, a story that evokes the entire range of human emotions from misplaced hope to blackest cynicism. The town in which it is located is not Macondo, although Macondo exists downriver; the locale is an unnamed port town where the mail comes in by ship every Friday. Scattered throughout the town are several unforgettable characters: the cynical Doctor; the wry, wealthy, and diabetic Sabas; Father Angel, who forbids the citizens from seeing morally questionable movies by ringing the church bell twelve times; the Colonel’s frustrated wife; and most importantly, the Colonel himself. A different Colonel than the central figure in Leaf Storm, he is obviously based on the same archetype – ostensibly García Márquez’s grandfather. The Colonel is a stately, honorable man, but perhaps a bit idealistic. For fifteen years every Friday, he has been faithfully anticipating the arrival of the pension check promised by a long overthrown government. Near poverty, half-starved, and living on credit, he and his wife have just lost their son, who was shot to death by the opposing political party. His only legacy is a prize rooster, an excellent fighting cock and a sure-fire winner in next January’s match. But to keep this potential breadwinner alive until then, he must be fed – and the more food that goes to the rooster, the less for the Colonel and his wife. The Colonel’s predicament unwinds as the narrative takes him through the town and it’s cast of characters, all of which have their own unique perspective on the vicissitudes of the world.
Although the narrative is essentially straightforward, the story is told with a compassion that clearly highlights García Márquez’s development as a writer. The last few lines of the book are unforgettable, and show an epiphany equal to anything in Joyce’s Dubliners.
The HarperCollins translation also contains the eight stories found in Los funerales de la Mamá Grande. No One Writes to the Colonel itself was later published in Collected Novellas.

In Evil Hour

Translated by Gregory Rabassa.

HarperPerennial of HarperCollins, 1991, ISBN 0-06-091964-7; Paperback $13.95. [Browse/Purchase]

Published in 1962 as La mala hora, In Evil Hour is a short novel about a town in the grip of a malicious oppression, a tale told against the background of la violencia and greatly influenced by Hemingway. It was originally titled Este pueblo de mierda, or “This Town of Shit,” and was mostly written while hungry and broke in Paris. In 1962, his friends convinced him to revise it and enter it into a literary contest in Colombia. He rewrote the story, giving it the new name of La mala hora, and it won the prize. The sponsors of the prize sent the book to Madrid to be published, where the Spanish publisher purged it of all Latin American slang and objectionable material, bowdlerizing it beyond recognition and making the characters speak precise, dictionary Spanish. Heartbroken, García Márquez was forced to repudiate it. It was finally published in its original form in 1966 in Mexico City.
La mala hora is a wonderful book, stylistically similar to No One Writes to the Colonel. It takes place in the same unnamed town and involves many of the same characters, including Father Angel, the cynical Doctor, and the Mayor. The town has become a lot less friendly since then, however, and tensions run high against a violent and shifting backdrop of politics. Lately, lampoons have been appearing in town – broadsides tacked up overnight, repeating in plain day the gossip about various members of the town. No one knows who is posting these notices about affairs, abortions, and crimes, but everyone soon becomes involved, and as the story progresses, the people of the town get increasingly more violent.
Revised a few years before he began One Hundred Years of Solitude, this novel shares some of the sense of timeless presence that colors Macondo. Although darker and less whimsical as his masterpiece, it is quite easy to see the seeds from which his later work would grow.

One Hundred Years of Solitude

Translated by Gregory Rabassa.

1. HarperCollins, 2003, ISBN 0-06-053104-5; Hardcover $24.95. [Browse/Purchase]

2. “Everyman’s Library” Edition: Knopf, 1995, ISBN 0-679-44465-3; Hardcover $27.95. [Browse/Purchase]

3. HarperPerennial of HarperCollins, 1998, ISBN 0-06-092979-0; Paperback $14.00. [Browse/Purchase]


Knopf

Published in 1967 as Cien años de solidad, this novel is considered García Márquez’s masterpiece, the breakthrough work that put him on the literary map. It was written in eighteen months of solitude, where García Márquez locked himself into his room with paper and cigarettes, writing day and night while his wife took care of family affairs. Translated into thirty some languages, winner of four international prizes, One Hundred Years of Solitude is certainly one of the most remarkable books ever written, a tale that spans generations, told against a backdrop where the absurd can seem logical and the sensible ludicrous.
Although a summary is close to impossible, I will nevertheless try. In essence, the novel paints the picture of an enduring family living in a South American town called Macondo, a mysterious place where every day brings its inhabitants a share of wonder, magic, grief, sorrow, and almost magical opportunities for transformation. The book picks up the Buendía family from its establishment by a eccentric patriarch and a tenacious matriarch, and tracks their descendants through the family’s rise, fall, and decay. The book is woven from a rich tapestry of unique characters, each brimming with a life that makes their passions and quirks seem like reflections of us all – it is an emotional swirl that is sensuous and filled with sentiment, but never sensational or sentimental. As we follow the Buendía family through growth and decay, war and peace, hardship and joy, we realize that we a witnessing nothing less than the slow process of life itself – like watching rust form beautiful patterns in the timeless eye of God.

The Autumn of the Patriarch

Translated by Gregory Rabassa.

HarperPerennial of HarperCollins, 1999, ISBN 0-06-093267-8; Paperback $13.95. [Browse/Purchase]

Published in 1975 as El otoño del patriarca, this novel is a character study in corruption and tyranny – García Márquez called it “a poem on the solitude of power.” Its focal character is an archetypical South American dictator, a nameless creature whose genius at politics and survival is set off against his profound loneliness and paranoia. In order to do research on his subject, García Márquez lived for awhile in Barcelona, which was still under the control of Franco, as well as troubled Caracas, and of course the Pinilla regime in his native country. Stalin was also an inspiration, and when García Márquez visited his tomb, he was struck by Stalin’s smooth hands, a trait that he passed on to his fictional autocrat. García Márquez has this to say:

My intention was always to make a synthesis of all the Latin American dictators, but especially those from the Caribbean. Nevertheless, the personality of Juan Vicente Gómez [of Venezuela] was strong, in addition to the fact that he exercised a special fascination over me, that undoubtedly the Patriarch has much more of him than anyone else. In any case, the mental image that I have of both is the same. Which doesn’t mean, of course, that he is the same character as the one in the book, but rather an idealization of his image.

A creature beautifully pure in his cruelty and despair, García Márquez’s tyrant is locked in this poetic novel like a monstrous butterfly in a collection of atrocities. And the device that García Márquez uses to pin him down for examination is a relentless and overwhelming prose, a winding sheet of endless words twisting through the tyrant’s head like a macho version of Molly’s soliloquy in Ulysses. Composed of lengthy, unpunctuated sentences, the narrative is brutally swift in pace, its sharp points falling upon its subjects in a rain of daggers.
It is this dense but fluid prose that makes Autumn of the Patriarch García Márquez’s most challenging novel; but it also makes it one of his most exciting. Reminiscent of the writing of Samuel Beckett, William Faulkner, or José Saramago, the narrative flow is breathtaking yet deliberately confusing, placing the reader in a nightmare labyrinth of time and space, and forcing one to construct the story from a collection of nonlinear fragments. Unlike Molly’s soliloquy, however, the point of view does not always remain with the tyrant – like a sinuous whip, it writhes through the minds of the characters and furiously lashes the page, unleashing its torrent of horror and beauty. Even reality itself is subsumed by the telling of the tale, and objectivity flexes or breaks with the stresses of the tyrant’s evil: this is a man who can sell the very ocean itself to the Americans, and from whose grasp love floats away under the dark of the sun. At times, one gets the feeling that the book is a form of exorcism, extracting the tyrant from the author’s soul like poison drawn from of a wound. Trapped in his paper cage, the Patriarch is indeed plagued by a persistent “buzzing” in his ear: no doubt he senses the narrative itself, a tireless engine driving him to his inevitable destruction.
Personally, I think Autumn of the Patriarch is a brilliant novel, but critically underrated and woefully under-read. While there’s no doubt that both its stylistic difficulty and unpleasant subject have kept many readers away from its pages, it also stands in the shadows between One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera. Still, this may be an appropriate place for it: Patriarch is a novel of darkness, and while it may not stir the soul like its illustrious companions, its rewards are many for the patient and receptive reader.

Innocent Eréndira and Other Stories

Translated by Gregory Rabassa.

1. Harper Collins, 1979, ISBN: 0060907010; Paperback $12.95. [Browse/Purchase]

2. Collected Stories. HarperPerennial of HarperCollins, 1999, ISBN 0-06-093268-6; Paperback $13.95. [Browse/Purchase]

A novella published in 1978 as La incréible y triste historia da la cándida Eréndira, the Harper Collins translation additionally contains two other stories found in the Spanish volume of the same name, and nine of the ten early stories found in the Spanish collection Ojos de perro azl. All these stories appear in the Spanish Todos los cuentos and the English Collected Stories.

Collected Stories

Translated by Gregory Rabassa and J. S. Bernstein.

HarperPerennial of HarperCollins, 1999, ISBN 0-06-093268-6; Paperback $13.95. [Browse/Purchase]

This work contains twenty-six stories, the complete contents of the following three Spanish collections: Ojos de perro azl (Eyes of a Blue Dog); Los funerales de la Mamá Grande (Big Mama’s Funeral) published in 1962; and a novella with stories published in 1978, La incréible y triste historia da la cándida Eréndira (The Incredible and Sad Tale of Innocent Eréndira and her Heartless Grandmother).
As Macondo visitor Jeff Derringer writes:
Of all Gabo’s works, Collected Short Stories best allows the reader to witness both his development and skill as a pure story-teller. Rendered in chronological order from his first published piece (”The Third Resignation”) to his post-One Hundred Years of Solitude work (”Blacaman the Good, Vendor of Miracles” and “The Incredible and Sad Tale of Innocent Erénderia and Her Heartless Grandmother”), Collected Stories illuminates the development of Gabo the raconteur, Gabo the magical realist, Gabo the isolated, hilarious, oftentimes elusive dreamer. His early works reflect the well-documented fascination with Faulkner (see “The Third Resignation,” “The Other Side of Death,” “Eva Is Inside Her Cat”) – these stories show Gabo transfixed by the mysteries of death, family, and poverty, themes that would haunt him throughout his life. As the collection continues, García Márquez elevates his writing above mere imitation and begins to develop his own style (references to Macondo and towns similar resound throughout), introducing characters both illuminated and defeated by pride and regret, a staple in his later, longer works. But it is not until the last section of the book that we see Gabo fully formed as a technician of his craft, dropping such glorious stories as “A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings” and “The Handsomest Drowned Man In The World” like they were manna from heaven. He leads the reader gently by the hand into the strange world of his creation, stopping here and there to show off the translucent waves of the beach, the soft light of the stars, and the cracked bell of the church, laughing to himself because he knows that once inside there is no absolution, not to mention escape.

Chronicle of a Death Foretold

Translated by Gregory Rabassa.

1. Knopf, 1983, ISBN 0394530748; Hardcover $26.00. [Browse/Purchase]

2. Vintage, 2003, ISBN 1-4000-3471-X; Paperback $11.95. [Browse/Purchase] [Spanish edition]

3. Ballantine, 1984, ISBN 0-345-31002-0; Paperback $6.99. [Browse/Purchase]

4. Collected Novellas. HarperPerennial of HarperCollins, 1990, ISBN 0-06-092128-5; Paperback $13.95. [Browse/Purchase]


Vintage

Published in 1981 as Crónica de una muerte anunciada. An interesting note about this novella is that Fidel Castro had a hand in proofreading it.

Collected Novellas

Translated by Gregory Rabassa and J. S. Bernstein.

HarperPerennial of HarperCollins, 1999, ISBN 0-06-93266-X; Paperback $13.95. [Browse/Purchase]

This book contains three previously published novellas: Leaf Storm, No One Writes to the Colonel, and Chronicle of a Death Foretold.

Love in the Time of Cholera

Translated by Edith Grossman.

1. Alfred A. Knopf, 1988, ISBN 0-394-56161-9; Hardcover $30.00. [Browse/Purchase]

2. Knopf “Everyman’s Library” Edition, 1997, ISBN 0375400699; Hardcover $22.00. [Browse/Purchase]

3. Vintage, 2003, ISBN 1-4000-3468-X; Paperback $14.95. [Browse/Purchase] [Spanish edition]

4. Penguin, 1994, ISBN 0-14-011990-6; Paperback $14.95. [Browse/Purchase]

5. Penguin “Great Books of the 20th Century” Edition, 1999, ISBN 0-14-028164-9; Paperback $14.95. [Browse/Purchase]


Knopf

Published in 1985 as El amor en los tiempos del cólera, much of the inspiration for this novel comes from the strange courtship of the author’s parents. It is a wonderful novel, and I would like to have a review posted eventually. Until then, here is the blurb from the jacket of the Knopf hardcover, which is still in print:

”’It was inevitable . . .’ So begins this story set in a country on the Caribbean coast of South America – a story that ranges from the late nineteenth century to the early decades of our own, tracing the lives of three people and their entwined fates. And yet, at first nothing seems inevitable, for this is a tale of unrequited love. Fifty years, nine months, and four days’ worth, to be exact. For that is how long Florentino Ariza has waited to declare, once again, his undying love to Fermina Daza, whom he courted and almost won so many years before. He has the bad grace, however, to make his declaration at the funeral of her husband, one of the most illustrious men of his time, a patron of the arts, distinguished professor of medicine, and leader in the fight against the cholera epidemics that once ravaged the country. Shaken by Florentino’s bold speech, Fermina banishes him from her house. But that is only the beginning. With the craft, humor, and accumulated wisdom of a master of fiction, García Márquez transports them (and the reader) back to those early days when they first met, courted, and were forced apart. He shows them going their very different ways – Florentino with his poetry, his rise to prominence in business, and (his devotion to Fermina Daza notwithstanding) his constant pursuit of women. And we see Fermina as she is wooed by the most sought-after bachelor of their time, Doctor Juvenal Urbino de la Calle; as they wed; as they experience all the events and emotions – honeymoon, passion, children, small betrayals, separations, dependencies, and adventures – that constitute a long, sturdy marriage. And then, at what might seem the end of their lives, Fermina Daza and Florentino Ariza are brought together once more, in a meeting whose outcome is as fateful, as suspenseful, as any in literature.”

The General in his Labyrinth

Translated by Edith Grossman.

1. Vintage, 2003, ISBN 1-4000-3470-1; Paperback $13.00. [Browse/Purchase] [Spanish edition]

2. Penguin, 1990, ISBN 0-14-014859-0; Paperback $13.95. Out of print. [Browse/Purchase]

3. Arthur A. Knopf, 1990, ISBN 0-394-58258-6; Hardcover $20.00. Out of Print. [Search for a Copy]


Vintage

Published in 1989 as El general en su labertino, the subject of this novel is Simón Bolívar, whom García Márquez removes from the mythic prison of history and places into the magical alembic of his transforming prose. The Liberator is seen at the end of his life, near the age of fifty, taking a seven month river voyage from Bogotá to the sea. As the journey progresses from port to port, the humanized Bolívar mirrors this journey in his head, passing from one subject of his life to another – his wars, his defeats, his passions, his sins, his loves – all told against the background and weight of the history that the General helped to create, a labyrinthine and internalized structure of disillusionment and frustration.
Although perhaps one of Gabo’s most straightforward and accessible novels, it is truly a very sad work, the product of years of research into the Life of Bolívar. García Márquez sees the Liberator as a sympathetic figure who dies seeing his world falling apart – his country, the alliances he forged, his dream of American unity, and even his own body.

Strange Pilgrims

Translated by Edith Grossman.

Vintage, 2006, ISBN 0-14-023940-5; Paperback $13.00. [Browse/Purchase]

Published in 1992 as Doce cuentos peregrinos, this is a collection of twelve stories that revolve around a similar theme. Here is the publisher’s description from the Penguin edition:

The twelve stories in this shimmering new collection feature Latin American characters adrift in Europe. A bereaved father comes to Rome for an audience with the Pope, carrying a box the size and shape of a cello case. An aging streetwalker waits for death in a Barcelona apartment with a dog she has trained to weep at her grave. A panic-stricken husband takes his wife to a Parisian hospital for the treatment of a cut finger and never sees her again. Combining terror and nostalgia, surreal comedy and the poetry of the commonplace, Strange Pilgrims is a triumph of narrative sorcery by one of our most foremost magicians of the written word.

Love and Other Demons

Translated by Edith Grossman.

1. Knopf, New York, 1995, ISBN 0-679-43853-X; Hardcover $21.00. Out of Print. [Browse/Purchase]

2. Random House “Large Print” edition, 1995, ISBN 0-679-76284-1; Paperback $20.00. Out of print. [Browse/Purchase]

3. Penguin, 1996, ISBN 0-14-025636-9; Paperback $14.00. [Browse/Purchase]


Penguin

Published in 1994 as Del amor y otros demonios, this haunting novel reads like a lost chapter of One Hundred Years of Solitude. Set in a colonial seaport in mythic South America, the novel tells the tale of a strange girl named Sierva María, a girl who may or may not have contracted rabies. Sent to aid her is a young priest, the intellectual and dreamy Father Cayetano Delaura. Rather than find her in need of exorcism, Father Delaura discovers that it is himself that is in need of healing, for he begins to fall in love with this enchanting and eccentric girl.
This is a short but striking book, a work that conjures up spirits of loss and frustration: ghosts haunting our mind’s shadows, reminding us of the melancholy nature of humanity and the indifference of the universe through which we helplessly travel. Although the characters are as delightfully eccentric as those from Macondo; they seem more trapped and immobilized by their lives than the Buendías, less likely to struggle against the bars of their cells. The few exceptional characters – Sierva María, Father Delaura, and an enigmatic heretic named Abrenuncio – move through the delicate mist of the narrative like incandescent balls of fire, rapidly expending their energy to burn all the more brighter.

Memories of My Melancholy Whores

1. Knopf, New York, 2005, ISBN 1-4000-4460-X; Hardcover $20.00. [Browse/Purchase]

1. Vintage, New York, 2006, ISBN 1-4000-9594-8; Paperback $12.00. [Browse/Purchase]

From the publisher, regarding the Spanish printing of Gabo’s novella:

“In my ninetieth year, I decided to give myself the gift of a night of love with a young virgin.”

An elderly journalist decides to celebrate his 90 years in a grand way, giving himself a present that will make him feel like he’s still alive: a virgin. In the brothel of a picturesque town, he sees the young woman from the back, completely naked, and his life changes radically. Now that he meets her he finds himself close to dying, not of old age, but rather of love.

Memoria de mis putas tristes is the story of this eccentric, solitary old man, a narrative of his sexual adventures (of which there were many), for which he always paid, never imagining that this would be the way he would discover true love.

This new novel, written in Gabriel García Márquez’s incomparable style movingly, contemplates the misfortunes of old age and celebrates the joys of being in love.

From Publisher’s Weekly:

García Márquez’s slim, reflective contribution to the romance of the brothel, his first book-length fiction in a decade, is narrated by perhaps the greatest connoisseur ever of girls for hire. After a lifetime spent in the arms of prostitutes (514 when he loses count at age 50), the unnamed journalist protagonist decides that his gift to himself on his 90th birthday will be a night with an adolescent virgin. But age, followed by the unexpected blossoming of love, disrupts his plans, and he finds himself wooing the allotted 14-year-old in silence for a year, sitting beside her as she sleeps and contemplating a life idly spent. Flashes of García Márquez’s brilliant imagery — the sleeping girl is “drenched in phosphorescent perspiration” — illuminate the novella, and there are striking insights into the euphoria that is the flip side of the fear of death. The narrator's wit and charm, however, are not enough to counterbalance the monotony of his aimlessness. Though enough grace notes are struck to produce echoes of eloquence, this flatness keeps the memories as melancholy as the women themselves.

Gabo Works Pages

Works Main Page – Back to the Main Page, where you will find the standard Macondo menu and a Quick Reference Card of titles.

Nonfiction – Essays, journalism, and memoirs.

Spanish – Works that have yet to be translated into English.

Bibliography – A coplete García Márquez bibliography.


–Allen B. Ruch
7 June 2007

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