Gabriel Garca Márquez was well known as a Colombian novelist and short story writer, but he started out as a journalist. Born on March 6, 1927, in Aracataca, Colombia, he lived to become “a giant of 20th century literature” for his works based on magical realism (Kandell). Garca Márquez was rewarded for his work with the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1982. His family influenced certain characters in his writings, as well as some of his experiences growing up, which played a role in what his stories were based on.
When Garca Márquez moved to Bogota when he was a teenager, he witnessed a period of civil unrest. It took place during the late 1940s and 1950s in Colombia, and it was known as La Violencia. “La Violencia would become the background for several of his novels”, many other political figures or ideas, and the history of Latin America. His own personal experiences became some of the few topics that Garca Márquez wrote about (Kandell).
“Like many Latin American intellectuals and artists, Mr. Garca Márquez felt impelled to speak out on the political issues of his day”, and because of this, “magic realism, he said, sprang from Latin America’s history of vicious dictators and romantic revolutionaries of long years of hunger, illness, and violence” (Kandell). His experiences growing up and traveling around Latin America helped shape the different topics that he decided to write about, which is why different novels and short stories are called El coronel no tiene quien le escriba (No One Writes to the Colonel), The General in His Labyrinth, and One Hundred Years of Solitude. He didn’t want to overwhelm people with the idea of politics. So he combined imagination and fiction with reality to create some stories that everyone could imagine and that also brought attention to real topics. When Garca Márquez was a journalist and he reported on the Cuban Revolution, he talked about politics, and this topic was something that his novels and short stories were based on. But especially as a journalist, “The problems of our societies are mainly political, and the commitment of a writer is with the reality of all of society, not just with a small part of it”. He wanted to talk about the problems that Latin American societies face, but he could only do it by getting involved in politics (McRobbie).
Historical events weren’t the only thing that influenced Garca Márquez; some personal figures, and even political ones, were important when writing his stories. In “The General of His Labyrinth, a chronicle of Simón Bolvar’s last days”, he made a story up by using real events and people, but he put a twist on it (Echevarra). “It combined imagination with historical fact to conjure up the last days of Simón Bolvar, the father of South America’s independence from Spain”, and “his depiction has been drawn from a careful perusal of Simón Bolvar’s personal letters”, He made up certain things to exaggerate the story, but he made sure the concept, events, and people were realistic, which helped create magical realism (Kandell).
“His grandfather, grandmother, parents, siblings, assorted aunts and uncles—even the prostitute—all make appearances in his work. His hometown of Aracataca would famously become the Macondo of One Hundred Years of Solitude and Leaf Storm, and his parents’ troubled courtship was thinly veiled as the centerpiece of “Love in the Time of Cholera” (Mcrobbie). He mixed reality and fiction; he used his family and even his hometown to create something fictional yet realistic that people could relate to. Even though he based most of his writing on magical realism, once he was diagnosed with cancer at age 30, he began to focus on his life. He wrote his memoir Vivir para contarla, but “he returned to fiction with Memoria de mis putas tristes, a novel about a lonely man who finally discovered the meaning of loneliness and the meaning of love” (Mcrobbie).
Garca Márquez went to Bogota to study law, but he never received a degree, so instead he became a journalist. As a journalist, he had to talk about various topics that he saw in society; some of these topics influenced his short stories and novels. “With daily reports of rape and murder and the government’s repressive sanctions on the press, it was a challenging time to be a journalist.” He was exposed to all these ideas and problems that many Latin American countries were facing, and as a writer, he wanted to bring these problems to light. “Garca Márquez novels are firmly grounded in the politics of Latin America. He addressed guerrilla warfare, drug trafficking, the failure of communism, the evil of capitalism, and the dangerous meddling of the CIA”. (Mcrobbie). He was very involved in politics and Latin America, and because of his work as a journalist, he talked to some political figures, becoming close to some and pushing him away from others. His exposure to all these political views, ideas, corruption, and the government influenced the way he wrote things. He wanted to make people aware of the situation, but not many people wanted to hear about it, so he used fiction so that it could get more people intrigued by the idea. Not only did it make more people enjoy magical realism, it also brought to light the problems that he saw in society and made people aware of them.
Garca Márquez was a great journalist and author; he tried to bring up very important ideas or topics in his stories, but as a journalist, these ideas caused trouble and outrage at times. He wanted people to be aware of the government’s corruption, but it ended up forcing him to escape from his own country. “The news story directly contradicted a government report of the incident [where some Colombian sailors were shipwrecked] and revealed that corruption in the navy had led to the sailors’ deaths,” and because of this, he “became so unpopular with the government that the newspaper sent him abroad for his own safety” (Mcrobbie). The government didn’t want to handle the truth, and with society’s problems, it won’t want to confront them either. He was also involved with controversial political figures like Fidel Castro.
Garca Márquez and Castro became close to the point where Garca Márquez let him read some of his unpublished work, and Garca Márquez would also describe Castro as an overall decent person. He called out America for being “almost pornographicly obsessed” with Castro” (Kandell). He was so involved in politics and social problems, and we wanted people to be aware of the point. He didn’t write badly about Castro because he wanted to be close to the government and find out what it was all about, but at the same time, he judged his own government for what it was doing. Even though he supported a very controversial person, he wanted to get the point out there that there are problems that some countries face, which is where magical realism came about.
Gabriel Garca Márquez contributed to the literary world by popularizing magical realism. He was recognized as a Nobel Prize winner, and he will be remembered for his amazing novels and short stories. “Poets are beggars, musicians and prophets, warriors and scoundrels, all creatures of that unbridled reality; we have had to ask but little of imagination. “Our crucial problem has been a lack of conventional means to render our lives believable” (Kandell). He felt like it was important to talk about issues going on, and he did this by not only making people aware of the problem but also getting them intrigued by reading about it. He would use fiction to exaggerate and make up certain things, but he made sure the true reality and concept were made clear through the story. He brought so many stories to life and made them so realistic, while also letting people use their imagination.
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