Literature Annotations


Garcia Marquez, Gabriel
Living to Tell the Tale


Genre Autobiography (483 pp.)
KeywordsAdolescence, Blindness, Communication, Developing Countries, Family Relationships, Father-Son Relationship, Human Worth, Latina/Latino Experience, Love, Marital Discord, Memory, Mother-Son Relationship, Narrative as Method, Parenthood, Poverty, Psycho-social Medicine, Rebellion, Religion, Sexuality, Urban Violence
Summary

Gabriel Garcia Marquez was born in 1928 and is best known in the English-speaking world for his novel, One Hundred Years of Solitude, which appeared early in his career in Spanish (1967) and later in English (1970). He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1982 and in 1988 published the novel, 0008 (see annotation), which received considerable attention for its evocative story of love and memory.

Garcia Marquez's autobiography is recent (2002, 2003); it covers the first twenty-seven years of his life in Columbia, ending in 1955 when he is sent as a journalist to Geneva to cover the Big Four Conference for his newspaper in Bogota. Although he remained in Europe for three years after that the book does not cover that period.

Garcia Marquez was born in Aracataca, Columbia in his grandparents' home, the first child in a family that grew to include ten younger siblings. He had a hectic childhood being reared by his parents' large extended family, which included several children sired by his father with women other than his mother.

Finances were always tenuous; when he worked as a journalist he was an important supporter of the family. He received a broad classical education at the Jesuit College in Bogota, where he began his writing career. Later he studied law and journalism but did not finish law school. He read extensively from all genres of literature.

Garcia Marquez's family relationships and personal experiences were traumatic in many ways as was the political situation in Columbia. It was a tumultuous initiation to a life of creative writing. His words quoted on the flyleaf describe the book: "Life is not what one lived, but what one remembers and how one remembers it in order to recount it."

Commentary

The book's lesson is of the importance of life experience and memory plus the need for a writer to read widely and discuss intensively with others as he develops his own writing style. We see an evolution from an observer to a recorder of the human condition.

This is not an easy book to read. There are many proper names (in Spanish) of people, places, and literary publications. The map included is useful but a glossary of names would be even more helpful.

PublisherAlfred A. Knopf
Edition2003
Place PublishedNew York
MiscellaneousMisc. Translated by Edith Grossman. First published in Spanish in 2002.
Annotated by Sirridge, Marjorie S.
Date of Entry 10/18/04
Last Revised 12/14/04