Friday, May 02, 2008

He is Marquez!

Just recently, I finished a terrific book.
Marquez’s Love In The Time of Cholera.
Really, does one need to even say his first two names?
He is Marquez!
We all know who he is.
But truly, this is a book that one wishes, upon setting it down, that it had more pages. And not because it is inconclusive, [even though it is, in many ways inconclusive] but moreso, you want more pages because you want the two characters at the end to sort of fall through the rabbit hole, be reborn or something… see life over again. Have another try at the novel’s final word, “Forever.”

It is set in some nameless Caribbean seaport city, human topography being more important to Marquez, in this novel, than geography.
Takes place between 1830 and 1930.
This is how I am going to do this… this is how I am going to begin to speak of an impossible to summarize, sprawling epic.
I will speak of the three main characters:

Florentino Ariza:
As a young telegraph officer, delivering a message to the Daza household, he observes the precociously beautiful Fermina Daza. He obsessively [to put it mildly] falls in love with her, at first sight.
Complications arise [ no pun intended]… Fermina’s father forbids any sort of relationship, and so the two [Fermina is, for the time being, equally enamored] communicate by way of clandestine letters.
Fermina is banished to a foreign land, and in this meantime, Florentino develops into an increasingly [physically] unappealing young man.

Fermina Daza:
Partially described above.
But this is because she can only be partially described, by anyone. She is the "crowned goddess."
She is everything as beautiful as poor Florentino is forced to only imagine!
A Caribbean Juliet, about to meet her Romeo.
Ahhh.... but it shall not be Florentino, after all!
When she returns from her banishment, she still feels that she loves her young suitor.
That is, until she meets him one day in a crowded street, and, upon seeing him, she instantly feels that it was “all an illusion.” She is no longer in love.
Florentino is understandably devastated. [Romeo to the core! Would gladly stab himself if he could find a sharp enough dagger...]
And things are about to get worse for him, because soon, due to a sickness, Fermina meets….

Dr. Juvenal Urbino:
Dr. Juvenal is easy on the eyes! He is everything Florentino is not. Striking, handsome, debonair, and RICH! He too, falls for Fermina’s charms, and she, for his. They marry. Florentino, now wishing himself dead, imposes a self-banishment upon his own life, in an attempt to forget his love for Fermina. Distance from her [as is all distance from true love] is futile. So, he opts for displacement! Since he cannot have her, perhaps he should sleep with half of the entire female world, instead.
He attempts to do just this…. sustaining 622 illicit affairs, until…. until… an aged Dr. Juvenal tries to rescue his errant parrot from a tree…. and…
It is too good of a story for me to say anything else about it.
If you have not yet read Love In The Time Of Cholera, I urge you to do so.
Get a copy!
The only other Marquez I have read is One Hundred Years of Solitude.
I declare this book [Cholera] as being much better!
He is Marquez!

Oh, and one more thing.
As I said of the movie version of Ian McEwan’s Atonement, I say the same for Marquez’s Cholera…. The movie is FABULOUS!
Really, amazingly, close to the book.
A wonderfully accomplished movie.
Read the book.
Watch the movie.
[In that order]!
And that’s an order.

He is Marquez!



Marg said...

I loved this book when I read it, but haven't seen the movie yet. I wonder if I am going to be able to track it down somewhere.

Merisi said...

I agree a 100% with your opinion, except that I do not remember the story as inconclusive. Should I have had doubts were I had none? Did Marquez let me imagine things?
My copy of the book, the large Penguin Pb, is yellowed and tattered, yet it is one of my most treasured possessions (I also love the cover illustration of a female nude in front of lush green vegetation). The congenial translation by Edith Grossman is a masterwork on its own, with Edith having composed Marquez's book in his spirit but her own words. If Marquez would have written his novel in English, I bet that he wouldn't have found a better way to express himself.
I have read the book in two more languages, but none of those other translations, albeit very good, compares to Grossman's feat.
(I have met Edith G., at a "Birthday Party" for Pablo Neruda in Washington DC. Should you ever have the opportunity to hear her talk about her devotion to the authors she translates, do not miss it.)

stefanie said...

It's a marvelous book, isn't it? I read it so long ago I don't remember the details, but I do remember enjoying it very very much. I must read it again sometime but there is so much of garcia marquez that I haven't read. Sigh.

Isabella said...

I loved this book when I read it ages ago, but I remember very little about it. It's one of few books I'm determined to REread some day.

(Techinically, I believe it's "Garcia Marquez" and should be filed under "G" in shops and libraries.)

Maggie said...

Kinda like Cher and Madonna!?! :D

I loved this book so much I choose not to write about it. I wanted to keep it personal.

cipriano said...

Dear Everyone:
The consensus is in.
We are unanimous in seeing this as an extremely well-written, well-translated, important and beautiful and enduring piece of literature!
Marg, I encourage you to rent the movie. It is great.
Merisi: That is incredible, meeting Edith Grossman. The only other Marquez I have read is 100 Years, and that was translated by Gregory Rabassa, and I am wondering how much my preference for Love In The Time of Cholera has to do with Grossman's translation. This is one of those books that makes one wish they could read Spanish.
Stefanie: Ditto! I want to read more of Marquez, also.
Isabella: Thank you for the "Garcia Marquez" note..... yet in my local Chapters store, he is found in the "M's".... I am now going to do a survey of all bookstores I visit!
Do a G<--allup Poll!
Maggie: I too, hesitated to write about the book, because it is just one of those things that one cannot do justice to, in a review or synopsis.