Before I started reading ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE I knew some things about its history. I knew that Gabriel Garcia Marquez had been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature for it. I knew that he was a South American author and that I had read his Love in the Time of Cholera and had enjoyed that story.
I did not know how divided readers were about the book. When I mentioned that I was finally getting around to reading ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE, half of the people I spoke to said that it was the best thing that they had ever read; the other half hated it.
Now I was really intrigued.
The years of solitude refer to the isolation of a small village by the name of Macondo somewhere in South America. It is a village of twenty adobe houses settled along a small river. In the beginning it is so new that things have not been named. Nobody had ever died in Macondo.
When the gypsies came, they brought wonderful, magical things to the people in the small village. Soon the village found the world coming to its doors. Now illnesses, distrust and, finally, war find them.
The story is told through the family of Jose Arcadio Buendia and his wife Ursula Iguaran. Each of their descendents face the new problems of the new world - especially the wars.
The problem for the reader is that each new member of the family bears the same name as another member of the family. Each person was more than a character in the book; each one also was meant to be a symbol of what was happening in the history of village.
I have to admit that I got very confused. This may be a book that takes more than one reading to fully understand. I could appreciate the beautiful, poetic language and even most of the symbolism, but on first reading, I was mainly --well-- confused. This may be a book that I need to either attend a class or find great study notes to help me appreciate why it received the Nobel Prize.