08 March 2010

Passages from Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude

I love the flow of novels that have been translated from Spanish into English. And I love the repeating familial patterns and feisty women and myths.

Here are only a few passages I like. You should read the whole book.

José Arcadio felt himself lifted up into the air toward a state of seraphic inspiration, where his heart burst forth with an outpouring of tender obscenities that entered the girl through her ears and came out of her mouth translated into her language. It was Thursday. (34)

The house became full of love. Aureliano expressed it in poetry that had no beginning or end. He would write it on the harsh pieces of parchment that Melquíades gave him, on the bathroom walls, on the skin of his arms, and in all of it Remedios would appear transfigured: Remedios in the soporific air of two in the afternoon, Remedios in the soft breath of the roses, Remedios in the water-clock secrets of the moths, Remedios in the steaming morning bread, Remedios everywhere and Remedios forever. (68)

Only he knew at that time that his confused heart was condemned to uncertainty forever. (167)

It was then that he decided that no human being, not even Úrsula, could come closer to him than ten feet. In the center of the chalk circle that his aides would draw wherever he stopped, and which only he could enter, he would decide with brief orders that had no appeal the fate of the world. (169)

"You can't come in, colonel," she told him. "You may be in command of your war, but I'm in command of my house." (169)

He was bothered by the people who cheered him in neighboring villages, and he imagined that they were the same cheers they gav e the enemy. Everywhere he met adolescents who looked at him with his own eyes, who spoke to him with his own voice, who greeted him with the same mistrust with which he greeted them, and who said they were his sons. He felt scattered about, multiplied, and more solitary than ever . . . "The best friend a person has," he would say at that time, "is one who has just died." He was weary of the uncertainty, of the vicious circle of that eternal war that always found him in the same place, but always older, always wearier, even more int he position of not knowing why, or how, or even when. There was always someone outside of the chalk circle. Someone who needed money, someone who had a son with whopping couch, or someone who wanted to go off and sleep forever because he could not stand the shi* taste of the war in his mouth and who, nevertheless, stood at attention to inform him: "Everything normal, colonel." And normality was precisely the most fearful part of that infinite war: nothing ever happened. (171)

"They're important papers," she said. "Nothing of the sort," the colonel said. "They're things that a person writes to himself." "In that case," she said, "you burn them, colonel." (179)


  1. robbie just gave me that book for valentine's day! i really liked "love in the time of cholera"... well, i actually was disappointed in the ending but the book was so beautifully written. the language! i mean, i don't know. it was so descriptive and creative. it made me wonder if stephenie meyer has ever read it and taken notes on proper diction. she really needs to, i'm just saying.

    can't wait to start it.

  2. You've convinced me to locate that book from a back shelf and actually read it!

  3. LOVED that book. So weird and beautifully written.

  4. Hey! I have this book, but I haven't read it yet!

    It sounds good! UGH. Too many books to read.