With equal components clarity and also gilded nostalgia, i recall the an initial time I review the opening line of Gabriel García Márquez’s One hundred years of Solitude. “Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to mental that far-off afternoon once his father take it him to discover ice.” regularly cited on perform of literature’s great very first lines, the inexplicable configuration that words come tearing turn off the page. Who begins a story with, “Many years later”?

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At age 20—cracking open up this strange birthday present from my brother’s impossibly cool climate partner—the near mythic very first sentence to be an electric jolt. The lines had mass and the concomitant gravitational pull from i m sorry I could not escape. Part 60 pages later on as the first chapter break was revealed, I recorded my breath.

You are watching: First line of 100 years of solitude

In a word, breathlessness is just how I explain the very first time analysis One hundred years of Solitude. Tragedy, absurdity, wisdom, lust unspool from each page. Whereby the book held me, in various other ways, the structure compelled me out of rhythm. Wait, what timeline am i on? i beg your pardon José Arcadio is this? Am ns reading around an event yet come come, or one that currently happened? and as the apocalyptic finishing unfolded v gale pressure winds, to satisfy the ago cover feeling like accomplishment enough. Complete digestion of bigger themes and also efficient symbols was a bridge also far, however for countless years to come, mine full-throated endorsement of One hundred years of Solitude would begin with that an initial line.

As the churn that a decade relocated me from financial solutions to the arts and also humanities, I check out the book a 2nd time. I’d to be on employee at the take care of Ransom facility for a couple of months before we gained the Gabriel García Márquez archive. In celebration, I check out One hundred years of Solitude through our monthly publication club for Ransom center volunteers.

There are publication groups, and then over there are publication groups inhabited by literate, curious human being who dedicate thousands of volunteer hrs to a liberal arts research archive, library, and museum. Where I knew what was in this wild terrarium get an impression by García Márquez, a second reading coupled v our volunteers’ insights permitted me come tilt his production at brand-new and unexpected angles.

The names, through design, matter, but certainly not to the extent which people get hung increase on them. Whereby it is so simple to it is in enamored by the tragic, sewage Buendía men, the novel belonging to family matriarch Ursula. The degree to i beg your pardon solitude is inescapable—imprinted on the Buendía DNA—emerged not as a an outcome of the cyclical narratives, yet the pressure moving those gears round and also round. Realism is negotiable, and also magic is a ax employed to use vague order come a chaotic world. It has rained flower on many occasions, and also people often see men complied with by butterflies. Pretending the civilization doesn’t market these realities v the same candor as García Márquez is a conjuring ~ above the reader’s behalf, not some illusion strictly draft by the maestro.

More so than anything, i learned from our volunteers that some people do not prefer this book. Together surprising to me as the ascension that Remedios the Beauty, yet a certainty nonetheless, one reader’s classic is another’s tedious slog.

My third reading that One hundred years of Solitude has actually been one transformed by archival material on check out in the Ransom Center’s exhibition Gabriel García Márquez: The making of a global Writer. With Gabo’s life past the written word, the objects articulating his writer’s journey, untold layers to be illuminated around this an international literary masterpiece.


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For me, there are numerous standouts among the 300-plus items in the exhibition. A photo of Gabo’s grandfather, Colonel Nicolas, who battled in the thousands Days’ War and also made small gold fishes in his workshop. Beside it, a picture of his grandmother, Tranquilina, who organized the family home together with sheer force of will. A woman who would talk around superstitions and an excellent events in the very same prosaic way she’d announcement dinner. A hand attracted map that his childhood home, his grandparent’s house in Aracataca, Colombia, with its begonia porch and big chestnut tree. Gabo’s own complex family tree teased the end on axes that legitimate and also illegitimate.

A photograph of Gabo as a young journalist, feet top top his desk, phone call in hand, every but details he would sooner or later pen a good work, however who could have no principle of the price the passage. The miles traveled, the financial insecurity, the sacrifices make by others, the false starts before he was lastly ready to revisit and complete, “an old project of wonderful stories.” The sum of that furious effort realized in the hand corrected typescript of One century of Solitude. Edits supplying a peek within what Gabo dubbed his “carpentry,” the craft of writing, consisting of an excised passage whereby Gabo and also his Barranquilla drink buddies take shots in ~ Cervantes and Shakespeare. Mountains of correspondence v the an international coterie of writers, critics, and also friends who listed daily feedback as he poured his entire life, past and also present, right into this new, ambitious novel. The an excellent novel of solitude written through so much love and also support native his friends.

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This is my third reading the One century of Solitude. Following the breadcrumbs of archival product past Gabo the worldwide icon, previous the venerated classic, till at your trailhead is revealed a 23 year old called earlier to Aracataca to offer his grandparent’s house. When his gauzy nostalgia was met with the truth of the home’s usual structure, the tragedy that the town whereby his the happiest memories lived, a change occurred. In this an are between embroidered recollection and also gut-wrenching reality, his calling together a writer crystallized. Seed took hold whose blossoms would attract out end the taking place 15 years. The white house, the outsized characters in his family, the dizzying occasions of his youth, this things cast a shadow. Gabo interpreted his story had literary value. His story mattered. And also many years later, once he finally told his story with brick faced authenticity, the felt choose nothing brief of magic.

Monte Monreal is the Manager that Visitor experience at the bother Ransom Center. He has actually been v the facility for 6 years and has a certain fondness because that the film and literary manuscript collections. 


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