‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’: 50 years later


By Andrew Becker
The Carolinian

There are places that will change you. They can be real or imagined, a mix of the two.

It may be where you’ve been, where you are, where you’ll be, or where you’ll never go. You may see such a place when you close your eyes, and one may be there waiting for you when they open. These places may even vanish from sight, but “there is always something left to love.”

The true luxury of literature is that it affords us windows into these transformative places that might otherwise be lost or forgotten to the world — such as the fictional village of Macondo in Gabriel García Márquez’s classic novel “One Hundred Years of Solitude,” which turned 50 this year.

In the beginning, “Macondo was a village of 20 adobe houses, built on the bank of a river of clear water that ran along a bed of polished stones, which were white and enormous, like prehistoric eggs.” But the village quickly becomes larger than life, a place of impossibilities, where the past is discovered, and where the future has already been written as an instant.

Macondo is a place without sleep, where language is something you can lose; a place of alchemy and economics, of love and war, an endless revolution of hope and despair, triumph and trauma, delicately spun around the quasi-biblical generations of the ill-fated Buendía family, whose lives are haunted in the uncanny village. As their lives rise and pass over the years, and their children replace them in more than just name and presence, history comes round full circle.

Though 50 years have passed since its publication, “One Hundred Years of Solitude” needs zero assurance; it will remain as one of those truly rare and eternal books — one with the ability to transport readers to a place unlike anything they’ve seen before, and transform them in its unfurling.

To read this novel is to feel love’s gravity and be swept away in the hurricane of time. Taught at Upstate and around the world, Gabriel García Márquez is the author you need to read.