Gabriel García Márquez

One Hundred Years of Solitude

On January 1965 Gabriel García Márquez and his family were driving to the Acapulco for a vacation, when the inspiration struck him: he had found his tone. For the first time in twenty years, a stroke of lightning clearly illuminated Macondo. He would later write: "All of a sudden -- I don't know why -- I had this illumination on how to write the book. . . . I had it so completely formed, that right there I could have dictated the first chapter word by word to a typist."

He wrote every day for eighteen months, consuming up to six packs of cigarettes a day. After nearly a year of work, García Márquez sent the first three chapters to Carlos Fuentes, who publicly declared: "I have just read eighty pages from a master." Towards the end of the novel, as yet unnamed, anticipation grew, and the buzz of success was in the air. As finishing touches, he placed himself, his wife, and his friends in the novel, and then discovered a name on the last page: Cien años de soledad

One Hundred Years of Solitude was published in June 1967, and within a week all 8000 copies were gone. From that point on, success was assured, and the novel sold out a new printing each week, going on to sell half a million copies within three years. It was translated into over two dozen languages, and it won four international prizes. Success had come at last. Gabriel García Márquez was 39 years old when the world learned his name. Suddenly he was beset by fame.

In 1969, the novel won the Chianchiano Prize in Italy and was named the Best Foreign Book in France. In 1970, it was published in English and was chosen as one of the best twelve books of the year in the United States. Two years later he was awarded the Rómulo Gallegos Prize and the Neustadt Prize, and in 1971, a Peruvian writer named Mario Vargas Llosa even published a book about his life and work. To counter all this exposure, García Márquez simply returned to writing.

Deciding that he would write about a dictator, he moved his family to Barcelona, Spain, which was spending its last years under the boot of Francisco Franco. There he labored on his next work, a work that would pin down a composite dictator, a Caribbean dictator with Stalin's smooth hands and the solipsistic will of an archetypical Latin American tyrant. In the meantime, Innocent Eréndira and Other Stories was published in 1972, and in 1973 he put out a collection of his journalistic work from the late fifties, Cuando era feliz e indocumentado, or "When I Was Happy and Uninformed."

Autumn of the Patriarch was published in 1975, and it was a drastic departure from the prose style of One Hundred Years of Solitude. A winding book with labyrinthine sentences, it was initially considered a disappointment by the critics, who were most likely expecting another Macondo. Opinion has changed over the years, however, and many now consider this novel of shifting realities to be a minor masterpiece of prose.

Macondo - A very complete page dedicated to García Márquez (in English)

Introductory notes     Topic for Paper # 4