When Ruth asked me to have a read along in March and April, first, it looked distant, then, it was here, now, it’s the most strange times I’ve lived. I started reading the book while still subbing, and I wrote the first posts on it at my free time.
This second post is written in a very different context. The week when I read these chapters seems very distant. Ruth’s post refreshed my mind on the events. I thought this book was a door-stopper, but I don’t consider it that anymore. Brona and others have commented on the upcoming chapters about the civil war as dense to plough through. I’m not bragging, believe me when I say that I breezed through those chapters. Maybe it’s the fact that the last 3 days of school, March 4th-6th, before our break, I subbed at a class with just one detained student. He got his work, I got my book. We were at a nice room, with a window to the outdoors, with a computer that I used if I needed, and he mostly used for his work. And the classroom has nice carpet and a beanbag, so I alternated between two chairs, -one to sit, one to put my feet up-, and the floor with the beanbag to rest upon.
To me, having certain not force speed, but brisk pace, helped me assimilate the book. I stopped caring about who was who. I’m reading this as there’s one Aureliano, one José Arcadio, one Ursula, one Amaranta. I mean, the Aureliano traits get perpetuated, and the same with the José Arcadios. In this light, those harsh to take episodes of strange -and inappropriate- loves and passions, they all start playing a part in the whole scope. Solitude is being lifted as a character. There’s arresting quotes and philosophical observations that make sense and seem so real, more so than plausible events. Márquez shifts realism to the soul realm. Things we all feel, very hidden desires, dark spots, and others instances of noble affections, they are so well written in the book with this mix of magic and crude realism.
I’m seeing the story of a family, which is a representation of humanity in their isolation. It seems that the Buendías, for more than they leave Macondo, they add a few others from outside to their family ties, but it’s all about them. I also see the history of a nation and its mark in the life of the members of the family. For more together than they are, they each live in existential solitude. Some of them try to reach out and come out of that solitude, in the end, they realize that solitude is what gives their life meaning and completion.
I’m still trying to decipher what Márquez is communicating with the book, which doesn’t preclude me from loving what I’m reading. He’s lulling me with his fecund imagination. There’s some Chaucer like stories in some of the antics of the members of this family. Some even read like myths. I sense a call to abandon our reasoning approach, and dare to look at the precipice of the human soul.
My apologies if I haven’t discussed much of the content. The rivalry between the “sisters”, Amaranta and Rebeca, was so fueled by hatred that one wonders if it wasn’t misdirected love. I’ve realized through the book that Amaranta is so scared to love. There’s a direct allusion to this later on. She goes to insane extents to fool herself and deny her problems. I’ve noticed that, with some people who suffer anxiety, it’s common to deny emotions, or joke inappropriately, and it’s because they feel so deep that they can’t even afford to allow themselves to acknowledge the emotions, or to admit they care. Don’t take me wrong, I’m not condoning the way Amaranta deals with her problems. All the people in this book seem very consumed by extreme emotions, and there’s not many happy resolutions to any of those excesses.
Later in the book, there’s also some of the most heart-wrenching observations made by my favorite, Ursula, on domestic and married life. There’s so much beauty and pain in this book.
That’s all for now. I will keep showing up here to converse with anyone interested.