Monday, March 8, 2010

100 años - parte dos

Round and round and round we go, where we stop, nobody knows!

This book amazes me. Where some authors may choose to write an entire book concerning what happens in a single day or over the course of a few years, or even one persons lifetime, GGM has written a book that covers countless generations and lives. There are a multitude of themes, names, and personalities that reoccur in this book. Personality traits - almost identical to their father, mother, aunt, or uncle's - are passed down from one individual to the next. Events seem to repeat themselves or we get stuck on a certain event such as the death of Aureliano in front of the firing squad. Once we learn that he will not be killed in that particular scene, the event is prolonged and teased at an infinite number of times. We also learn of the many attempts to murder him throughout his life. These themes, names, and personalities lend a particular confusion to the book. I often have to refer to the family tree at the beginning of the book in order to remember which Aureliano or which Arcadio. The fact that Ursula and José Arcadio Buendía never seem to die does not help to understanding the progression of time or where exactly we are in the story.

I wonder why GGM chose to write like this. I wonder what his vision was and what exactly he was trying to say with this book. Certain aspects of the book remind me of torture. For example the way Amaranta locks herself away in her bedroom when really she wants to spend time with the Colnel Gerineldo Marquez and before that Pietro Crespi. She denies herself love and companionship when it is what her heart longs for. In the same way, Melquiades, Jose Arcadio Buendia and Ursula hold on to a string of life which they refuse to let go of. Life for them continues on until they are no longer lucid but their soles seem to be immune to death. Amaranta's toying and kissing with Aureliano José is another torture for both of them because they never fully give into their desires. This self-made suffering, torturing of the soul, and drawn-out lives are major themes in this book and I just can't quite understand why. I don't think that every aspect of a book has to have so hidden meaning but literary repetition is well-thought out.

Thoughts? Anyone else on the same page? I would love to hear what other people thought of this.


Jon said...

You have an interesting observation to in suggesting that the lives of so many characters (and perhaps the book itself, in another sense of the term) is "torturous."

We could also say that stubbornness is a trait of very many of the Buendías, though it's expressed in very different ways: in the self-denial of Amaranta, in the obsessiveness of José Arcadio, in the near-endless warmaking of Colonel Aureliano Buendía, for instance.

And some characters are so stubborn that even death is not the end. (So many resurrections: Prudencio, Melquíades.)

But sometimes this stubbornness is turned towards life (with Ursula, for instance?) and sometimes it's rather more destructive.

Anyhow, as I say, an interesting observation.

a.lawn.uh. said...

Your idea of torture is something I have definitely noticed, but never truly put a word association to. Perhaps GGM is illustrating self made torture because it exists so plainly in reality? The two main 'tortures' that seem to be apparent are those involving life vs death and love vs hate. Depending on your interpretation of life, one could say the characters are trying to deny their true 'destiny' or create a new path for themselves? Just some thoughts..