38 of 42 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: One Hundred Years of Solitude (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
One hundred years of solitude is unparalleled in its scope and originality, Marquez's style and prose is something the like of which I have never seen in all my years of reading. I'm not sure if it true to the 'magical realism' style of writing, but the rules of grammar appear to have been ignored here - there is a lack of punctuation, some unfeasibly long sentences and the smallest amount of dialogue you are likely to find anywhere in a book of this size (with the possible exception of his own 'The Autumn of the Patriarch', which has none!) Yet this is a work of beauty and genius.
The basic story is of a fictional town in South America (Macondo) and one central family - The Buendia's. Marquez writes of many things mundane and ordinary in the lives of this family, yet interspersed with the normal is the strange. Within the first few chapters the reader's imagination is fuelled by images of flying carpets, a man who turns into a snake, Arabs who will only trade their goods for Macaws and an insomnia plague which eventually makes the populace lose their memories until it is cured by a gypsy's brew. As the novel progresses it is easy to lose track of some events due to the way they follow each other in a cyclical pattern - the same can be said for the names of the characters, but I think this is intentional once you realise what the themes of the book are. The political aspect of the novel is also quite remarkable, Marquez manages to sum up the Liberal-Conservative struggle superbly, adding to the notion that this could be set anywhere in South America as it mirrors conflicts there in the last two centuries.
Despite the writing style and the ambiguity of the events/characters I would recommend this novel to almost anyone as something they must read, purely through the sheer escapism it provides. There are much more telling themes behind the book though, obviously solitude is one of them but I think time is also something else Marquez intended readers to think about. What he is saying is that no matter how ugly, beautiful, wealthy, stupid or intelligent a person is they can not escape the ravages of time - we come into this world alone and we will leave it alone. He has taken the one ultimate truth of life, flowered things up a bit and told us that death is inescapable. This is backed up by the depressing thought that no matter how hard you try you will start to forget names and events even as you are reading it, as if the Author is showing us that it doesn't really matter what sequence these events occur in.
Still, as sobering a thought as this is, you should not miss out on reading about the doomed yet wondrous Buendia family, it contains some of the most imaginative characters ever invented and you won't be able to help being sucked into their magical world, created by a man with more talent for writing than most can only dream of.