One Hundred Years of Solitude, for Spanish Lit Month, for Stu’s read-along

20190731_064801It’s almost a mystical experience, to read One Hundred Years of Solitude. Exaggeration abounds, and emotions take on physical qualities like this:

…the persistence of Amaranta, whose melancholy made the noise of a boiling pot. (p. 216)

Seemingly endless streams of sons are named Aureliano, or Arcadio, until I become thoroughly confused, giving up on their specific heritage and simply reading for what I wanted to know: the meaning of the title.

Melquídas, an ancient gypsy who visits the Buendía family through its many generations, refuses to translate his manuscripts, the letters of which “looked like clothes hung out to dry on a line, and they looked more like musical notation than writing.”

“No one must know their meaning until he has reached one hundred years of age,” he explained.  (p. 201)

The novel contains war, and firing squads, gold coins and illegitimate children. There are explanations for religion and political parties which seem as if they could apply to America today.

The Conservatives, on the other hand, who had received their power directly from God, proposed the establishment of public order and family morality. They were the defenders of Christ, of the principle of authority, and were not prepared to permit the country to be broken down into autonomous entities. (p. 104)


It has become so tedious to continue. I feel I am treading water, getting no where, and sinking deeper. The story has lost its magical quality for me as I become mired in its opacity, and I cannot go any longer with no clear story line…nothing happening but more sons of the same name being born.

More than three-quarters of the way through, I’m laying it down. Sorry, Stu, I tried. And I look forward to your thoughts on a book so many people love more than I can.

5 thoughts on “One Hundred Years of Solitude, for Spanish Lit Month, for Stu’s read-along”

  1. How strange: I had exactly the same experience. I enjoyed the first few dozen pages, then when new generations appeared, and confusion set in, I gave up. I’ve read quite a lot of other works by Márquez, all of them good, so felt particularly disappointed by his most famous novel.


    1. I am so relieved I am not the only one! (So often I feel like Bellezza, Party of One.) I really dislike giving up on a book, and the further I go the more I hate to completely abandon it lest ALL the time I’ve spent be wasted. But, there are so many things I want to read, and this just wasn’t one of them, after all. I will try Love in The Time of Cholera, if, as you say, it isn’t particularly disappointing. Thanks so much for your comment.


  2. Hi, I came here from Bronna’s Moby Dick’s post.
    A thought is haunting me lately. Big long iconic books and us, readers. I am from Spain, and in my twenties I read this and his El amor en los tiempos del cólera. Both long books. No problem following through. Maybe because I had no expectation of being any other than confused, enveloped in a circle whose only escape was its spiraling, as Nabokov says that a spiral is a circle set free.
    I don’t think that anyone from a culture or language different to the author can’t connect at all levels with a good book. I am also a lover and admirer of translations. However, in my experience, we all have a build up conducive to certain classics. For example, I feel the same extasic experience with Don Quixote and this title, 100 years of solitude, that you and Bronna feel with Moby Dick (book that I had to quit half way.) Midnight’s Children, is allegedly easy for Indian and Pakistani readers, and A Tale of Two Cities has a natural attachment for those from Anglo background.
    With the long Russian books, it’s also a hit or miss for non Russians.
    However, someone’s love and understanding of a book, can help our efforts take us further each time.
    The repetitive nature of this book, as well as Din Quixote, is deliberate. It happens to make you suffer the oppression of the culture. And when relief comes, one welcomes it like a glass of water given to someone who crossed a desert. It also accustoms you to a way of thinking that we get to miss when we close the book.
    I believe that our attempts, even if we don’t complete the book, are valuable and we may go back to them or not, but we met a bit of what they are. I appreciate those books, even when I can’t be the reader they deserve.


  3. I enjoyed your review very much. I had the exact same experience with 100 Years of Solitude. Except I think I gave up around the halfway point. So many of my friends think it a masterpiece, whereas I found it confusing and ultimately frustrating. On the other hand, I read Garcia Marquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera and I loved it.


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