Sunday, March 28, 2010

100 años - parte cuatro y comparaciones

To conclude with 100 años and magical realism as we have come to understand it, i will make some comparisons between the three books we have read and their treatments of time, narration, history, and of reminding us of our origins (maybe not "our" origins per se, but the origin and evolution of different latin american cultures).

Time is a very important concept to magical realism. It is divided into 3 categories in Leyendas de Guatemala: before the conquest, during, and after. At the same time, the short stories bring history alive in the present because they are "historias olvidadas". The purpose of the myth is to remind people of their origins by repeating a story, no matter how fantastical, that explains to us where and from whom we came from.

In comparison, the prophecy of Melquiades - which we can assume to be the book we have just read - serves a similar purpose; the book/prophecy teaches us where the Buendía family came from. Instead of repeating the story in order to pass knowledge from one generation to the next, Marquez has history repeat itself within the story. In that way, the repetitions present in both the books are different yet represent a connection between past, present, and future (in no particular order).

I find that Don Chepe and Doña Tina in Leyendas can be compared to Melquiades and his book of prophecies. In both books, the characters remind us of a narrator that exists outside of the story. In Leyendas the don and doña count time with grains of maiz as they repeat the stories of their antepasados in a rythmic repetition representing the knowledge of those who came before them. Time exists in the shop with these two people as it does inside the stories they tell of the past. In this way, history exists in the present. Similarly, Melquiades knows the inevitable trajectory of the Buendia family. Marquez plays a similar role in that he too knows the beginning and end of the story before it happens. Maybe Marquez created Melquiades as a character that represented himself. in this way, his character reminds us of the world outside the story. which reminds me of the glass house spoken about by Jose arcadio buendia at the beginning of the book. its is almost as though we are watching the story transpire through the glass walls created by the narrator.

A similar sort of control is given to the protagonist in El reino de este mundo. Ti Noel as well as Mackandal hold the power to step outside of reality by transforming into different animal camouflages. (i would talk more about el reino more if i had the time because it definitely shares some of the themes i have discussed).

In conclusion, I think it is really interesting to notice that all three stories have told the story of a part of Latin American history. With Leyendas telling the Maya story of creation, the arrival of the Spanish, and the conquest. For Carpentier, he told the story of Haiti's fight for independence as well as abolition, the first black ruler come dictator, and the second arrival of the French. And finally, 100 años which takes place in no particular Latin American town tells the of the progression of events that much of the continent went through since the arrival of the Spanish. Time's fluidity is so important to magical realism because, as i have mentioned before, it bring the past alive in the present and future. By blurring the lines between these three categories we are reminded of how close we are to our ancestors and by hearing their story, we learn from their mistakes and are reminded of our roots. this has special relevance because Latin American history has had repetitions of its own in which one culture (european/spanish/french/american) is transposed on top of another (maya/mestizo/african). with each sobreposicion de culturas, a part of the culture is either lost succumbing to colonization, or strengthened in retaliation.

1 comment:

Jon said...

I like what you have to say about the role of time in the three books, but also think that your commentary about the narrator or narrators in each is useful: the way in which there are authorial doubles in these texts, for instance Melquíades for García Márquez, Don Chepe and Doña Tina for Asturias, and perhaps Ti Noel for Carpentier. I think we could say more about this.