Monday, March 06, 2006

Take yourself to Macondo today . . .

. . . in honor of Gabriel García Márquez' birthday. Those readers (few, I hope) who have not yet discovered this writer's work must, post-haste, find his magnificent novel One Hundred Years of Solitude and/or his Collected Stories. It seems to me, in my humble opinion, that García Márquez and Borges stand alone as the absolutely indispensible Latin American novelists of the past century. So: your homework is to introduce yourselves to these extraordinary writers. And while you're doing that, I'll be shut away, Melquíades-like, offering commentary on my students' academic endeavors in the form of very-short (one letter long, in fact) narratives. Yes, it's mid-semester time. So, I'll be away from "here" for a few days.

One of my favorite stories about García Márquez: it was in the '40s and '50s, he said, he knew he wanted to be a writer, but he didn't recognize his writer's self in all the (Spanish-language) models he encountered. He came very close to despairing that he could be the sort of writer he wanted to be. Then one day he read the opening sentence of Kafka's The Metamorphosis--and from that moment, he said, he knew he could write.

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Anonymous said...

Then one day he read the opening sentence of Kafka's The Metamorphosis--and from that moment, he said, he knew he could write.

Reading that made me smile. You find the nicest things to talk about.


Camille said...

Hey, thanks for visiting my blog. As soon as I read the name "Macondo" I was immediately transported to a humid, densely lush, pregnant-with-magic-and-history South American jungle, teeming with mystery and a twisted cocktail of fecundity and death. Ah, thanks for the mini-vacation.

mannequinhands said...

Me: Hey mom, you have the same birthday as Gabriel García Márquez!

Mom: Who?

Me: The author, you know, One Hundred Years of Solitude.

Mom: Oh. (pause) It's Ed McMahon's birthday, too.

Aunty Marianne said...

Hahahaha. Had similar conversation when I took my mother to Rome.

Me: "Mum, this studio we're renting, it used to be Mauritz Escher's studio!"

Mum "Whose?"

Me "Escher, you know, the engraver, the man who did the wonky stairs, the glass ball, the hands drawing each other, the water falling around a circle"

Mum: "Aha ... So where are we having dinner?".

P.S. The contact details of the aforementioned studio are available from me. It's worth going. The stairs were REAL.

John B. said...

Thanks to all of you for commenting.

Amy, you are too kind. I just find myself drawn to stories about how writers came to be writers, and that particular one has always stuck out because it seems so perfectly fitting with that image we have of García Márquez' style as a writer.

Camille, thank YOU for coming by my place. I find myself visiting your blog quite often, seeing as I have it blogrolled (hope you don't mind). Yours is one of the best photoblogs I've run across. It's always a pleasure to drop by.

Erin and Aunty M., both those stories made me smile. It's odd, isn't it, how we bookish folk get so wrapped up in our bibliophile-ness that when we have those moments of being reminded that not everyone shares in our passion, we find that reminder disorienting, absurd, even. And Aunty, I now know just whom to speak to about seeing Escher's house. Those Dutch and Flemish types and their obsessions with depicting space . . .

raminagrobis said...

Yes, but did Márquez read that Gregor had been transformed into a giant cucaracha? I ask only because I recently found out that the translation of Ungeziefer (Kafka's word) as 'cockroach' is much disputed. Oh, to be able to read all literatures in the original!

John B. said...

Grobie, I'd read that too; the recent translations I've read have it as "insect" or "vermin." But for all that, the Muirs' ("cockroach") translation is still my favorite, probably because that's the one I first read. As for whether GGM read it that way, I don't know. Good question.