Am höchsten bewertete positive Rezension
Marquez weaves another mythic world that leaves me entranced
am 19. März 1998
Book Review Of Love and Other Demons by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, edited by Edith Grossman As usual, Marquez weaves a fantastic tale, one filled with magic and miracles. And, as usual, I am captivated, putting aside my scientific beliefs, my rational analysis for a tale that sweeps me up in the history of the times by bathing the tragic illness and death of the child Sierva Maria De Todos Los Angeles in love, mysticism and seduction. This tale hinges on very usual circumstances for the times: in 1949 the author worked for a newspaper in Columbia and, on a slow news day, the editor asked him to take a trip to the Convent of Santa Clara to watch the emptying of tombs in an effort to scare up some news. Upon his arrival, Marquez was dumbfounded to find a small crypt above the altar filed to overflowing with red hair which, when stretched out on the floor, measured 22 meters, eleven centimeters. This hair, the remnants of Sierva Maria De Todos, was the mark of her beauty when the twelve year old child was alive and the mark of her sainthood after she died from rabies soon after her twelfth birthday. Many came to pray to the niche, hoping for blessings from the young saint and from this tale Marquez constructed his story of her life. We meet Marquez's Sierva Maria on her twelfth birthday when she is roaming the market with her servant and, upon roaming too far, gets bitten by a dog above her ankle. Later, when that dog is found dead, Sierva Maria's downfall begins as every unusual trait of hers is attributed at first to the illness and later to demonic possession when she does not actually fall ill from the bite. Added to this central drama is the negligence of her parents, Bernarda Cabera and the Marquis de Casalduero, due to her mother's drug addiction and her father's apathy. Sierva Maria, however, is not totally without guidance, for her servant has taken her in, raising her in the slave quarters amongst the African slaves. It is to this family that Sierva feels a kinship, a bond which makes her want to sleep on her surrogate mother's floor rather than in the sumptuous quarters laid out for her in the mansion. It is behavior gleaned form these surroundings--stealth, silence and 'invisibility'--that cause those in the town to believe in her possession. Once Sierva Maria is believed to be possessed the rest of the story unfolds in the Convent to which she is taken to determine her spiritual state. She is entrusted to the ministrations of a priest, haunted with his own phantoms, who ceases to reason when he is struck with her beauty. Through his humanity, and her otherworldliness, tragedy strikes. Although this story is about a young girl accused of possession, I really see it as a story of the 'other' in society. Since Sierva Maria is raised by the slaves of the mansion she is different, appearing wholly other. With her father's fear of being murdered in his sleep by the slaves, and her mother's deep obsession for a slave man she bought for her sexual pleasure and lost in a brawl, Sierva Maria is a bridge between the worlds of black and white, captive and master, earth and God. She functions as the reader's direct line outside the system of her society which included the possibility of demonic possession, the acceptability of owning slaves, the chastity of priests and the cruelty of nuns. I found this book to be a window into passions and fears that still haunt me as I write about it. Of course, I am an avid Marquez fan, having read almost all of his novels, but this most recent one strikes me as the most mythic, blending fact and fantasy seamlessly into one believable reality. And I, for one, am convinced.