By Chet Yarbrough
Written by: Gabriel Garcia Márquez
Narrated by: John Lee
“One Hundred Years of Solitude” is a story about seven generations of one fictional family. The hope, fear, and experience of this family elicits feelings and opinions about life. History of the Buendia family focuses attention on social and economic evolution and revolution in Latin America. The story offers insight to all nations seeking independence and individual self-determination.
The author, Gabriel Garcia Márquez, writes a complex story, melding the mythology and history of Latin America while tweaking the nose of imperialists; and savaging the lives of nationalists, idealists, and revolutionaries. Márquez creates a patriarch named José Arcadio Buendia who is a visionary with a perception of reality that mixes magical thinking with scientific reasoning to found a Colombian’ town called Macondo. The history of Macondo is the journey of all nations seeking independence and individual self-determination. However, “One Hundred Years of Solitude” infers the journey is foreordained rather than elicited by free choice.
In Márquez’s view, leaders are born and genetics of a family repeat themselves in future generations. The view is not that every leader spawns a leader but that future generations repeat earlier generation strengths and weaknesses to greater or lesser degrees. In the maturation of future generations, history only repeats itself. To Márquez, free will is a myth.
Some of the seven generations following José Arcadio Buendia are good, some are bad, some are smart, some are religious, some are sectarian, some are moral, some are amoral, but each character is pre-ordained as lesser or greater parts of the first patriarch and matriarch. In that duplication, Márquez argues history repeats itself.
Márquez’s idea of genetic repetition morphs from individuals to national histories. Nations evolve in a pre-determined world that is archived in a mythical library, a library of civilizations. The difficulty for one who discovers this presumed library, according to Márquez’s story, is that archived books about civilization’ histories are written in code which is indecipherable.
“One Hundred Years of Solitude” is widely acclaimed, written in many languages, and considered a classic. However, the story is too densely populated with characters to be appreciated in a first listen. John Lee offers a great narration of the story but patience and fortitude are required for the listener to complete the audio book.