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Book Review: "Love In the Time of Cholera" by Gabriel García Márquez
The History and Love Affair of Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza
This novel revolves around Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza. When Fermina first encounters Florentino in her young years, she is smitten by him, but later is told by her father that she can no longer meet him. In her early 20s, she marries Juvenal Urbino who is an established doctor and she is comfortable with him because he loves her and provides her security. Juvenal has order to everything he does and is not the risk taker as demonstrated in the novel by Florentino's actions. Juvenal is devoted to putting an end to cholera and and living up to his reputation.
Three years after Márquez won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1982, Love in the Time of Cholera was published with the English translation to follow in 1988. Love in the Time of Cholera is a remarkable love story including the relationship of aging and dying. Interestingly, Márquez' life parallels events and characters of Love in the Time of Cholera, in particular his personal relationship with his wife. Additionally, the basis for the story also included the relationship history between his parents, chiefly his father, Gabriel Eligio Garcia, who was allegedly the community philanderer having fathered children out of wedlock. The manner in which he courted Márquez' mother, Luisa Santiaga Márquez Iguarán, was also similar to the way in which character Florentino Ariza courted Fermina Daza, including violin serenades and writings of poems and letters.
A Fiery and Intriguing Love Story Spanning Five Decades
The intriguing story takes place somewhere close to the Magdelena River. The reader never really knows the exact name of the village or city, but entertains it could be some city in Columbia where author Márquez used to live. The story and its characters evolve over a span of 50 years which makes it so intriguing. The reader will become acquainted with Florentino's lifestyle and where he works with a river company. Also, uncovered through reading are all these visuals of the home kept by Fermina that she shares with Juvenal, the doctor. Márquez does a great job in inflicting upon the imagination the effects of Florentino's life and pounding on a reader's emotions each time Florentino and Fermina happen to have an encounter in public. As time goes on, a conclusion is developed of what should happen, and because hope is held of what could happen, the book is hard to put down.
About the Author Gabriel García Márquez
Gabriel García Márquez, journalist, short-story writer and novelist, is praised as one of the best Latin-American writers. Born March 6, 1928, he was raised in Aracataca, Columbia, a town near the Caribbean where the main source of income was derived from bananas. His parents were Gabriel Eligio García and Luisa Santiaga Márquez Iguarán; Márquez was one of twelve children. His parents were poor and as such, for the first eight years of his life, he was raised by his maternal grandparents who would become a very important influence on his life. Márquez’ grandfather was a retired colonel (Liberal veteran of the War of a Thousand Days). The battlefield stories were shared with Márquez and other stories involving legends and folklore were shared by his grandmother. Indeed, every time a reader comes across a character referenced as “Colonel,” wonder is generated concerning a possible relationship with his grandfather’s history.
Márquez belonged to the movement regarded as “Magic Realism” which term was first presented in 1925 by Franz Roh, a German critic, when categorizing a group of post-expressionist painters. This term was adopted in the late 1940s to describe the narrative tendencies in Latin American writing and this writing style lasted until the early 1970s. It’s defined as his “fictional blend of history, politics, real social situations, and fantasy (something made up).” (Source: http://www.notablebiographies.com/Fi-Gi/Garc-A-M-rquez-Gabriel.html).
Márquez’ first story was published in the El Espectador in 1947 with other stories to follow in other publications. Once civil war broke out in his country in 1948, he relocated to other cities working as a journalist for newspaper publications. He progressed to short-story telling and his writing reputation was growing. One of his popular books published in 1967, One Hundred Years of Solitude, was very successful in 1969 in Argentina receiving praise as Márquez’ best work.
Other novels appear throughout the 1990s, in particular Strange Pilgrims in 1993 which is a collection of short stories. The first story, Bon Voyage, Mr. President is an incredible good read.
In 1999, Márquez bought a weekly newspaper in Columbia, Cambio, enabling him to return to journalism and was driven to improve the quality and readership of the newspaper. Sadly, later this same year, he was diagnosed with cancer. While undergoing treatment, rumors began to appear indicating he had died. He communicated a year later that the rumors were false and that he was in seclusion writing his autobiography. The last I read, his cancer was in remission.
- Garcia Marquez - Timeline
Macondo is a comprehensive Web resource exploring the works of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and this page is a timeline of his life and works.