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am 13. Mai 2000
Gabriel Garcia Marquez is one of the most genuinely artistic of 20th century authors. "One Hundred Years of Solitude" was the first of his books that I read and while I loved the story there were times when the sheer size, scope and density of that work was very intimidating. It wasn't until my second reading that I was able to fully digest the power of the book and appreciate the consumate artistry it embodied. For those who want a little bit of a lighter introduction to Marquez, "Chronicle of a Death Foretold" is a good place to look.
The story is deceptively simple: A young girl in a South American village (a setting almost all Marquez's works share) is married and it is found that she has already lost her virginity. Her brothers are then bound by honor to kill the man responsible, an act they have no interest in doing but do nonetheless because no one will stop them. I am giving nothing away here, all the details of the story are revealed in the first few pages. What elevates this simple story to the grand level of all Marquez works is the brilliant structure and execution. Marquez succeeds, as always, in putting a fresh spin on a timeless plot.
Marquez gives us the events leading up to the murder from several different angles and with each different angle a new wrinkle in the fabric of the story unfolds. What we learn is that there scarcely a person in the whole town who could not have helped rescue the victim from his early end. The killers did not hide their mission, on the contrary they announced it to whoever crossed their path and delayed the doing of the deed until they could not wait any longer. It is this fact which sticks with the reader of the book long after he has finished reading and Marquez explores the question of responsibility at length.
I recommend that "Chronicle of Death Foretold" be read as an intro to Marquez and if you like it then move on to the more imposing works like "One Hundred Years of Solitude" and "Autumn of the Patriarch". For those Marquez fans who have not "Chronicle of Death Foretold" yet, I encourage them to do so right away. It easily hold up to his best material, even within its smaller framework.
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am 17. Juni 2000
The first sentence of this harrowing, surrealistic novella concerns itself with the murder of the wealthy, twenty-one year old Santiago Nasar and every page that follows only serves to broaden and enlarge this action.
The novella, a narrative written twenty-seven years after the murder by Nasar's journalist friend, serves as a detailed history of the hours leading up to the crime. The entire population of a fictional Latin American village comprise the cast of characters and as we become privy to their actions and memories, the one certainty we learn is that everyone had a part to play in this crime.
The night before the murder, Angela Vicario had married Bayardo San Roman in a lavish and costly ceremony. However, when San Roman learns that Angela is not a virgin he returns her to her mother immediately. When pressed to name the man who stole her virginity and disgraced the family name, Angela answers, "Santiago Nasar."
Nothing points to the truthfulness of Angela's assertion, but her twin brothers, Pablo and Pedro, who are pig butchers by profession, sharpen their knives and begin their search for Nasar.
Although "there had never been a death more foretold," every one of the town's citizens has some reason, valid or not, for doing little or nothing to prevent the death of Nasar.
Even Nasar, himself, until the final moments, seems oblivious to what every other person in the town is well aware of. Amazingly, he seems to either feel himself above death or simply resigned to his fate.
The narrator of Chronicle of a Death Foretold presents many instances and situations that could have saved the life of Nasar yet failed to do so, underscoring one of Garcia Marquez's signature themes--irony.
Some of the town's citizens, like Victoria Guzman, Nasar's cook, have private reasons for wishing him dead. Many assume that Nasar must surely be aware of the danger himself, while others simply discount the Vicario brothers announcement as drunken boasting.
By the time Nasar walks onto the dock to meet the visiting bishop's boat, everyone there knows how and why he's going to be killed. And, when the Vicario brothers begin their attack, no one lifts a finger to stop it.
During the final, surrealistic pages of the book, Nasar rises from the bloodied ground and dusts off his own entrails before "entering the house of his mother" and announcing, "They've killed me, Wene child," as he falls on his face in the kitchen.
Garcia Marquez illuminates, not only the duplicity behind the Latin "code of honor," but the hypocrisy of the women as well, a hypocrisy that makes a mockery of the community's strict code of behavior.
The little understood "cult of machismo" is also explored and Garcia Marquez shows us how the men's strict adherence to that cult contributed heavily to the death of Nasar.
While the narrator of Chronicle of a Death Foretold is unable to come to any firm conclusions regarding Nasar's death, he does show us the overwhelming inevitability of it all. Too many forces, including apathy, assumption and even chance are all moving in the same direction and all contribute to the final, harrowing outcome. This sense of the inevitable pervades every line of the book and we know there could have been no way the life of Nasar could have been spared.
Although told in a straightforward (though non-linear) manner, Chronicle of a Death Foretold is not a straightforward story. It is complex, shocking and powerful and surrelistic in its approach. It concerns itself with the power of death in life and how one death affects and transforms an entire community.
The language used in Chronicle of a Death Foretold is, at times, shocking and even brutal, but it is perfectly suited to the shocking and brutal story it tells.
In an early interview, Garcia Marquez mentioned the debt he owned to Juan Rulfo, author of Pedro Paramo. Although Chronicle of a Death Foretold is highly original, Rulfo's influence can clearly be seen. The two novellas parallel each other in their surrealistic qualities, the ever-present sense of death and meaninglessness and the inevitability of life's final outcome. Both works are characterized by unrelieved darkness and a descent into something unamed, from which it is impossible to return.
As with all of Garcia Marquez's works, this book is flawless. It is a highly rewarding, yet disturbing work that forces us to look at the inevitable presence of death in life and the uncertainty of even the next moment.
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am 15. Februar 2000
Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Marquez is an excellent book. Written in a investigative-reporting style, it contains suspense, satire, and irony. The setting of the book is a small town in Colombia. The plot is simple: two brothers have a responsibility, by tradition, to kill a man accused by their sister as her perpetrator. Although the brothers take on the task it seems that they are not very comfortable with the idea of committing a murder and they don't let any opportunity go by when they announce their intentions to the towns people (almost in hope that someone will stop them). The irony lays in the fact that almost the whole town knows about the brothers' plan way before the victim or his mother finds out. Marquez does a great job satirizing religion, the legal system and the society as a whole. The reader is told about the murder in the first few pages of the book but the narrator reveals the details slowly through out the book. The book makes you think: what would you do if you were in the shoes of one of the characters? how could you have prevented the death foretold ? how would you deal with a similar situation in real life: would you caution the victim and notify the authorities or would you be indifferent (thinking that someone else will do it)? The book was fun and interesting to read. I recommend Chronicle of Death Foretold highly especially if you are a looking for a mystery book which takes you in another culture this should be your first pick. Plus its easy and quick to read.
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am 1. Februar 2000
Marquez's book Chronicle is a poignant novel and its relationship with real life events makes the story especially intriguing. Set in Columbia, the novel highlights the tradition of "machismo" and the strong Hispanic male ego. In this story a young Spanish-Arab womanizer has apparently messed with the wrong girl and will suffer the wrath of her family. Marquez, apparently touched by the actual death of a friend involving similar circumstances, chose to "report" on the issues of male and female roles withing society, especially focusing on the consequences of these stations. Murder, depression, and social exile are the result however instead of being ultimately depressing, the novel intrigues the reader and educates her through the journalistic style and detective-story subject matter. Never the less, the end result is a challenge of the social norms. AS readers we are forced to examine our own ideas of male and feamle roles. How would we act in the place of the different characters? Would we have tried to stop the forestold death? Or complacently watched like most other towns people?
When faced with these questions, and others, hte reader becomes a participant in hte story not just a spectator and this is what makes the novel fascinating. Great for a book club!
am 8. Februar 2000
The novel "Chronicle of a Death Foretold," by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, was an enthralling novel that transformed a simple plot into a satirical work of art. Marquez was able to accomplish this through a narrative technique known as investigative reporting. It was through this dry, objective voice that he was able to slowly reveal the plot while building suspense and conveying his thoughts on society in a discrete and sardonic manner. One example of Marquez's narrative style was his slow revelation of details regarding the murder, telling the story several times, each time revealing more key details. At first, the author only gives basic facts and the perspective of the families. "'When I saw him safe and sound I thought it had all been a fib,' he told me. No one even wondered whether Santiago Nasar had been warned, because it seemed impossible that he hadn't" (Marquez 22). Here the author states the facts about his friend Santiago, the victim of the murder, with little emotion. Not once in the novel does the narrator convey to the reader how he feels; rather he paints a portrait to evoke emotion in the reader. "It was a matter of honor" (Marquez 56). Next, after giving some simple facts, Marques identifies the motive of the killer. However, by wrapping up the loose ends, he leaves even more questions, which perpetuates the reader's interest in the novel overall. "Nevertheless, what had alarmed him most at the conclusion of his excessive diligence was not having found a single clue, not even the most improbable, that Santiago Nasar had been the cause of the wrong" (Marquez 126). Here, near the end of the novel, Marquez informs that his serious matter was all the result of lies and impulsiveness. Before this point, the author gave little evidence whether or not Nasar was the perpetrator; in one paragraph he surprises the reader with the fact that Nasar was most probably identified by Angela as the "criminal" because she knew he would except his death and not cause many problems. This revelation also satires the murderers' motives who killed Santiago based on anecdotal evidence for a crime Angela was equally guilty of. The author successfully conveys to the reader that the machismo complex has become obsolete and satires it through the plot. Thus, it is clear that what gave the book its depth and inspiring aspects was, for the most part, Marquez's narrative technique. Without his objective reporting style, the book would have been no more than an uninteresting book with a simple storyline.
am 2. Februar 2000
Gabriel Garcia Marquez never fails to delight with his work, and Chronicle of a Death Foretold is no exception. Having been to Columbia and experienced the milieu he describes; his stories are all the more enjoyable and lifelike. Chronicle presents a journalistic-style account of the ultra-machismo that pervades rural Latin America. The minute detail and unrelenting dedication to exact time makes for interesting reading. Is it possible that everyone but the victim themselves knows they will be killed? In a small town? The combination of seemingly improbable oversights reaches the point of frustrating the reader. Having discussed it with people familiar with similar circumstances, however, I am inclined to believe that this is nonetheless a feasible situation. Superstition and fear are rampant in Colombia, especially in the backwoods. In an effort to avoid blame or repercussions it is possible that all the citizens of a small town would neglect to notify the target of his imminent doom. The style used in Chronicle is deceivingly complex. The journalistic narrative is filled with irony and satire that never fully capture the author's sentiments. This combination of objectivity and personal insight provides a unique structure. Ideas are never stated directly but rather symbolically through the plot of the story. Santiago Nasar is a Christ figure who becomes a martyr for machismo; Marquez subtle way to criticize his culture. Religion also finds itself the subject of criticism. High officials are made to seem unreligious and even Marquez's sister the nun drinks and carouses. These details not only add to the reader's understanding but are funny as well. I have no reservations in recommending this excellent example of Marquez's semi non-fiction. For those with little time, Chronicle is a short and easy way to explore the world of Marquez's writing as long as you are not looking for his trademark magical realism.
am 31. Januar 2000
Gabriel Garcia Marquez's novel "Chronicle of a Death Foretold" is an interesting story written in the style of investigative reporting. The novel is not only an account of a murder which took place in January of 1957, but it is also a novel of manners, a satire, a mystery, and an initiation. The theme of this book, without giving the story away, is that life is determined by inexplicable forces and irrational acts. It seems that everyone knows about the impending murder yet is incapable of warning the future victim. In the small Latin American town whose daily routine is interrupted only once in a blue moon by a sea-borne Bishop, everyone knows everyone else. That's why Bayardo San Roman and his family made such a splash. He contrasts greatly to the other characters of the novel, in his extravagance and his demeanor. Another topic discussed in this book is machismo and the honor code. The conflict of the book stems from the long-past tradition of wedding night virginity and is resolved only by the vengeance of two twin brothers. The way this conflict is played out is at once disturbing and amazing to read: it seems impossible that the murder could happen under the circumstances. This book is frustrating for the reader only because one wishes he could run into the town and warn Santiago Nasar. This novel is filled with characters, major and minor, many of whose names are allusions and biblical references. I thought it was an interesting book, for being so short a lot happened. The technique that I liked the most in the novel was the way that Marquez peeled away layers of the story almost like an onion. Every time he would return to an event more details would be added, more problems would arise. I recommend it as a quick and easy book to read, suspenseful, and sometimes horrifying.
am 5. Dezember 1998
CHRONICLE is an excellent study of suspense. Within the first few pages, we know who will die, who the killers are, and (soon after) we learn why. With these traditional prompts removed, we are left with the stories surrounding the central murder of Santiago Nasar. This is storytelling-journalism at its finest. The unnamed narrator returns to his "forgotten village" in an attempt "to put the broken mirror of memory back together from so many scattered shards." These shards focus as much upon a village's complicity in a murder as upon the victim.
What makes this even more enjoyable is that the story is not handled with deadly seriousness. Marquez' prose is as exuberant as ever and touched with moments of comedy--the bishop on the boat who hurriedly blesses the villagers waving roosters at him from the shore is a good example. But eventually the novel hinges upon the death scene, which is what sustains the suspense. In an era where gruesome murders are de rigeur and almost expected (and indeed occur within the opening pages of a crime novel, or in the first few minutes of a suspense movie), Marquez reminds us of the physical horror of murder, and the luminous beauty of life, as if these are fresh discoveries that we stumble upon in reading his story. We laugh and weep at the ridiculous adventures and catastrophes that besiege the characters in this novel, much as we react to the events in ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE, yet we hold our collective breaths as Santiago approaches his death in the final pages. You close the book knowing that you have finished a short and brilliant masterpiece, and then you read it all over again.
am 2. Februar 2000
The premise of the novel is, actually quite interesting. The plot of the story is as interesting as any script turned out by the Hollywood studios. The novel has every ingredient to make it a bounified page turner. The major attention grabbers like intrigue, sex, and murder are very much a part of the story. From the opening chapters the reader can be swept away with the mysterious circumstances of Santiago Nassar's murder. Marquez then does a fairly decent job of making the novel feel like an investigative journalist piece. The way Marquez writes about the events that led up to that fatal moment for Santiago, makes a reader feel that his a part of the small town that was the setting for all the events in the novel. Also the novel gives great insight into culture I may have never come in contact with. Marquez paints a pretty descriptive picture of how deeply old traditions still had very firm grasp on the lives of the people in the town. The fact that Angela and her soon to be fiancée had never courted before their marriage was a throw back to times when that was how most marriages in the world took place, through arrangements. Also the notion that a young woman is worth something only if she is a virgin is also a nonsense notion that is a remnant of an older cultural influence. Despite all the good parts of the book, I just could not seem to get totally immersed in the story. However don't let that stop you, it is still a good book.
am 17. Februar 2000
In Gabriel Garcia Marquez's novel, though it is supposed to be a fictional mystery, actually the this story is based on a real one encountered by the author 27 years beforehand. This novel also relays the strict traditional culture of Latin America. During the time of the story, parents still arranged marriages and girls always had to be virgins when they got married. If the girl was not a virgin she would be returned to her family with a cursed name and not able to marry again. No respectable or wanted bachelor would want a girl who is not a virgin, a girl who is not pure. The family of the Vicario's were very angry and the brothers wanted to seek revenge and kill Santiago for taking their sister's virginity. So the story ends in tragedy, because the Vicario brothers are jailed and Angela is exiled from her hometown because of her cursed family and her mother. In this story I enjoyed the characterization and writing style of this novel. This is an excellent book to help the reader learn about Latin American culture and to understand traditional values. This is a novel that holds your interest and it great for adults of all ages.