Gabriel García Márquez
and Magical Realism

Biography

Gabriel García Márquez was born in Aracataca, Colombia, on March 6, 1928. After studying journalism at the National University of Colombia in Bogota and at the University of Cartangena he worked as a screenwriter, journalist, and a publicist. Through it all he was always writing stories.

He published his first book of short stories, Leafstorm and Other Stories in 1955. His most famous work is his novel, One Hundred Years of Solitude was published in 1967. In 1982, he won the Nobel prize for literature.



Colombia

Originally, Colombia was settled by numerous indian tribes. While no one knows for certain the origins of these tribes, the archaeological evidence dates back 10,000 years. The country was later colonized by the Spanish who ruled from 1592 until the war of independence in 1819. Since then they have been establishing a democracy. Historically, the country was a rural nation of landlords, peasants, villages, and small towns. The history is deeply rooted in the culture and this culture has a strong influence on García Márquez's fiction.



Magical Realism

"Magical realism expands the categorizes of the real so as to encompass myth, magic and other extraordinary phenomena in Nature or experience which European realism excluded" (Gabriel García Márquez, eds. Bernard McGuirk and Richard Cardwell, 45).

Gabriel García Márquez uses the technique of magical realism in his novels as well as his short stories. Marquez uses magical realism to blend reality and fantasy so that the distinction between the two erases. An example of this technique comes from the story "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings" where an angel falls to the Earth because of a violent rainstorm. When the angel is found by Pelayo and Elisenda, they are shocked to see an angel, and yet they never question its existence. The reality of the situation is never mistrusted; however, the angel itself is an astounding manifestation. Even the neighbor lady is not shocked:

"He's an angel," she told them. "He must have been coming for the child, but the poor fellow is so old that the rain knocked him down" (204).

"A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings" demonstrates Marquez's ability to tell a fairy tale or folk tale in a realistic manner while incorporating the magic of the angel. The angel is the catalyst for the family's recovery from destitution. Before the arrival of the angel, they are a simple, poor family with a dying son. Once the angel is captured, the son recovers and the family uses the angel for financial gain. Marquez shows us true human nature. An incredible being falls to the Earth and the humans use it to make a fast buck. Eventually, the family grows to resent the angel and they wish it would vanish. Instead of the simplistic, happy ending of the ordinary fairy tale, the characters are allowed to exploit Nature until it flies off without a word. Consequently, the angel is never allowed to fulfill his destiny which was to take the soul of the dying child.

"She kept watching him even when she was through cutting the onions and she kept on watching until it was no longer possible for her to see him, because then he was no longer an annoyance in her life but an imaginary dot of the horizon of the sea" (210).

All page references to Collected Short Stories by Gabriel García Márquez

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