Gabriel García Márquez

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I believe without any doubt at all that our greatest good fortune was that even in the most extreme difficulties we might lose our patience but never our sense of humor.

Gabriel José García Márquez (6 March 192717 April 2014) was a Colombian novelist, journalist and activist. He was awarded the 1982 Nobel Prize for Literature.

See also:
Love in the Time of Cholera


  • ...a lie is more comfortable than doubt, more useful than love, more lasting than truth ...
  • Since the appearance of visible life on Earth, 380 million years had to elapse in order for a butterfly to learn how to fly; 180 million years to create a rose with no other commitment than to be beautiful; and four geological eras in order for us human beings to be able to sing better than birds, and to be able to die from love. It is not honorable for the human talent, in the golden age of science, to have conceived the way for such an ancient and colossal process to return to the nothingness from which it came through the simple act of pushing a button.
    • Speaking of nuclear weapons in “The Cataclysm of Damocles” (1986)
  • The most prosperous countries have succeeded in accumulating powers of destruction such as to annihilate, a hundred times over, not only all the human beings that have existed to this day, but also the totality of all living beings that have ever drawn breath on this planet of misfortune.
    On a day like today, my master William Faulkner said, "I decline to accept the end of man." I would fall unworthy of standing in this place that was his, if I were not fully aware that the colossal tragedy he refused to recognize thirty-two years ago is now, for the first time since the beginning of humanity, nothing more than a simple scientific possiblity. Faced with this awesome reality that must have seemed a mere utopia through all of human time, we, the inventors of tales, who will believe anything, feel entitled to believe that it is not yet too late to engage in the creation of the opposite utopia. A new and sweeping utopia of life, where no one will be able to decide for others how they die, where love will prove true and happiness be possible, and where the races condemned to one hundred years of solitude will have, at last and forever, a second opportunity on earth.

One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967)[edit]

Races condemned to one hundred years of solitude did not have a second opportunity on earth.
Cien años de soledad as translated by Gregory Rabassa (1970), Harper Perennial Modern Classics ISBN 0060883286
  • Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.
    • p. 1
  • He imposed obligatory military service for men over eighteen, declared to be public property any animals walking the streets after six in the evening, and made men who were overage wear red armbands. He sequestered Father Nicanor in the parish house under pain of execution and prohibited him from saying mass or ringing the bells unless it was for a Liberal victory. In order that no one would doubt the severity of his aims, he ordered a firing squad organized in the square and had it shoot a scarecrow. At first no one took him seriously.
    • p. 104, Referring to Arcadio
  • In the shattered schoolhouse where for the first time he had felt the security of power, a few feet from the room where he had come to know the uncertainty of love, Arcadio found the formality of death ridiculous. Death really did not matter to him but life did and therefore the sensation he felt when they gave their decision was not a feeling of fear but of nostalgia. He did not speak until they asked him for his last request.
    • p. 119
  • "A person fucks himself up so much," Colonel Aureliano Buendía said, "Fucks himself up so much just so that six weak fairies can kill him and he can't do anything about it."
    • p. 131
  • He had not stopped desiring her for a single instant. He found her in the dark bedrooms of captured towns, especially in the most abject ones, and he would make her materialize in the smell of dry blood on the bandages of the wounded, in the instantaneous terror of the danger of death, at all times and in all places. He had fled from her in an attempt to wipe out her memory, not only through distance but by means of a muddled fury that his companions at arms took to be boldness, but the more her image wallowed in the dunghill of war, the more the war resembled Amaranta. That was how he suffered in exile, looking for a way of killing her with his own death.
    • p. 148, referring to Aureliano José
  • Carmelita Montiel, a twenty-year-old virgin, had just bathed in orange-blossom water and was strewing rosemary leaves over Pilar Ternera's bed when the shot rang out. Aureliano Jose had been destined to find with her the happiness that Amaranta had denied him, to have seven children, and to die in her arms of old age, but the bullet that entered his chest had been directed by a wrong interpretation of the cards.
    • p. 153
  • Lost in the solitude of his immense power, he began to lose direction. He was bothered by the people who cheered him in neighboring villages, and he imagined that they were the same cheers they gave 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. He was convinced that his own officers were lying to him. He fought with the Duke of Marlborough. "The best friend a person has," he would say at that time, "is one who has just died."
    • p. 166
  • At dawn, worn out by the tormented vigil, he appeared in the cell an hour before the execution. "The farce is over, old friend," he said to Colonel Gerineldo Marquez. "Let's get out of here before the mosquitos in here execute you." Colonel Gerineldo Marquez could not express the disdain that was inspired in him by that attitude.
    "No, Aureliano," he replied. "I'd rather be dead than see you changed into a tyrant."
    "You won't see me," Colonel Aureliano Buendía said. "Put your shoes and help me get this shitty war over with."
    When he said it he did not know that it was easier to start a war than to end one.
    • p. 169
  • A person doesn't die when he should but when he can.
    • p. 241, said by Colonel Aureliano Buendía
  • "Shit!" she shouted.
    Amaranta, who was starting to put the clothes into the trunk, thought that she had been bitten by a scorpion.
    "Where is it?" she asked in alarm.
    "The bug!" Amaranta said.
    Úrsula put a finger on her heart.
    "Here," she said.
    • p. 251
  • The anxiety of falling in love could not find repose except in bed.
    • p. 269
  • The world was reduced to the surface of her skin and her inner self was safe from all bitterness.
    • p. 279, referring to Amaranta
  • One minute of reconciliation is worth more than a whole life of friendship.
    • p. 282, said by Úrsula
  • In that Macondo forgotten even by the birds, where the dust and the heat had become so strong that it was difficult to breathe, secluded by solitude and love and by the solitude of love in a house where it was almost impossible to sleep because of the noise of the red ants, Aureliano, and Amaranta Úrsula were the only happy beings, and the most happy on the face of the earth.
    • p. 404
  • … the city of mirrors (or mirages) would be wiped out by the wind and exiled from the memory of men at the precise moment when Aureliano Babilonia would finish deciphering the parchments, and that everything written on them was unrepeatable since time immemorial and forever more, because races condemned to one hundred years of solitude did not have a second opportunity on earth.
    • Last Paragraph
  • The secret of a good old age is simply an honorable pact with solitude.

The Paris Review interview (1981)[edit]

In my case, the only advantage to fame is that I have been able to give it a political use. Otherwise, it is quite uncomfortable. The problem is that you're famous for twenty-four hours a day, and you can't say, "Okay, I won't be famous until tomorrow," or press a button and say, "I won't be famous here or now."
The Art of Fiction, #69: Interview with Peter H. Stone in The Paris Review, Issue 82 (Winter 1981); later published in The Paris Review Interviews: Writers at Work, Sixth Series (Viking/Penguin, 1984, ISBN 0-140-07736-7
  • It always amuses me that the biggest praise for my work comes for the imagination, while the truth is that there's not a single line in all my work that does not have a basis in reality. The problem is that Caribbean reality resembles the wildest imagination.
    • p. 322
  • In the end all books are written for your friends. The problem after writing One Hundred Years of Solitude was that now I no longer know whom of the millions of readers I am writing for; this upsets and inhibits me. It's like a million eyes are looking at you and you don't really know what they think.
    • p. 322
  • Interviewer: You describe seemingly fantastic events in such minute detail that it gives them their own reality. Is this something you have picked up from journalism?
    García Márquez: That's a journalistic trick which you can also apply to literature. If you say that there are elephants flying in the sky, people are not going to believe you. But if you say that there are four hundred and twenty-five elephants in the sky, people will probably believe you.
    • p. 324
  • Ultimately, literature is nothing but carpentry.
    • p. 325
  • I would like for my books to have been recognized posthumously, at least in capitalist countries, where they turn you into a kind of merchandise.
    • p. 336
  • A famous writer who wants to continue writing has to be constantly defending himself against fame. I don't really like to say this because it never sounds sincere, but I would really have liked for my books to have been published after my death, so I wouldn't have to go through all this business of fame and being a great writer. In my case, the only advantage to fame is that I have been able to give it a political use. Otherwise, it is quite uncomfortable. The problem is that you're famous for twenty-four hours a day, and you can't say, "Okay, I won't be famous until tomorrow," or press a button and say, "I won't be famous here or now."
    • p. 337
  • I can't think of any one film that improved on a good novel, but I can think of many good films that came from very bad novels.
    • p. 338
  • I was asked the other day if I would be interested in the Nobel Prize, but I think that for me it would be an absolute catastrophe. I would certainly be interested in deserving it, but to receive it would be terrible. It would just complicate even more the problems of fame. The only thing I really regret in life is not having a daughter.
    • p. 339

Living to Tell the Tale (2002)[edit]

Vivir para contarla as translated by Edith Grossman (2004), Vintage International. ISBN 1-4000-3454-X
  • Life is not what one lived, but what one remembers and how one remembers it in order to recount it.
  • Before adolescence, memory is more interested in the future than the past...
  • Nostalgia, as always, had wiped away bad memories and magnified the good ones.
  • Now you don't have to say yes because your heart is saying it for you.
  • Children's lies are signs of great talent.
  • But I believe without any doubt at all that our greatest good fortune was that even in the most extreme difficulties we might lose our patience but never our sense of humor.
  • It was impossible to conceive of two creatures so different who got along so well and loved each other so much.
  • From the time they turned one they were tossed from the balconies of the kitchens, first with life preserves so they would lose their fear of the water, and then without life preservers so they would lose their respect for death.
  • "There are no two men in this world more similar than you and him," she told me. "And that's the worst thing for having a conversation."
  • … no sooner had you done something than someone else appeared who threatened to do it better.
  • … nothing was easy, least of all surviving Sunday afternoons without love.
  • … my unhealthy timidity might be a great obstacle to me in my life.
  • Because for you, quitting smoking would be like killing someone you love.
  • Until I discovered the miracle that all things that sound are music, including dishes and silverware in the dishwasher, as long as they fulfill the illusion of showing us where life is heading.
  • I couldn't tell you because even I don't know who I am yet.
  • … for an instant I thought about stopping the cab to say goodbye, but I preferred not to defy again a destiny as uncertain and persistent as mine.

Quotes about Gabriel García Márquez[edit]

  • I had already read One-hundred Years of Solitude when I was in college, probably because that was when it was translated into English. I sent a copy in Spanish to my parents, saying, “Look this is just like our family stories!” And they said, “Yes, this is like our story-telling tradition.”
  • I belong to the first generation of Latin American writers brought up reading other Latin American writers. Before my time the work of Latin American writers was not well distributed, even on our continent. In Chile it was very hard to read other writers from Latin America. My greatest influences have been all the great writers of the Latin American Boom in literature: García Márquez, Vargas Llosa, Cortázar, Borges, Paz, Rulfo, Amado, etc.
  • One of the first people I read was García Márquez and One Hundred Years of Solitude when I was about nineteen or eighteen. And Julio Cortázar. I read all of Jorge Amado. I can tell you I read everybody and everything. And they would drive me nuts! But I was compelled to it. I was driven to the mechanics of what they were doing.
    • Ana Castillo 1991 interview in Conversations with Contemporary Chicana and Chicano Writers edited by Hector A. Torres (2007)
  • I think it was a couple of years after Gabriel García Márquez won the Nobel Prize and the so-called Latino boom began. All of a sudden people said, "Hey, these guys may have something important to say."
    • "When did you notice this change with publishers-when they finally started publishing Latinos?"
    • Judith Ortiz Cofer, interview (2000) in A Poet's Truth: Conversations with Latino/Latina Poets
  • Puerto Rico, like all the countries of the Caribbean, is a nation where fantastic reality, the world of magic, is ever present. There are various sects of white magic, such as Santeria. It is a reality that is very palpable in our environment, and this is why there are no great differences between fantasy and reality. This is also true in the work of writers like García Márquez, whom I consider a Caribbean writer because Aracataca, which is the setting for the imaginary Macondo, is in the Caribbean. All Caribbean writers have this in common.
    • Rosario Ferré Interviews with Latin American Writers by Gazarian Gautier (1988)
  • They thought Gabriel García Márquez's would be the way, because of his richness, because his work can be multilayer. He can use the Indian past and the Catholic-Spanish heritage. Keep it all. You don't have to cut that out, cut this out.
    • In One Hundred Years of Solitude,/Márquez wrote that we are birthed/by our mothers only once, but life obligates/us to give birth/to ourselves over and over.
    • Erika Sánchez in the poem "Amá"

External links[edit]

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