on 7 July 1998
The Autumn of the Patriarch is perhaps one of the greatest works of literary artistry of the twentieth century and certainly one of his most innovative works, but most likely it won't appeal to the general reader because of its unconventional structure. The main character, a tyrant of a small country, is the only 'real' character in this book, in that being the supreme leader and dictator of his world and all that surrounds him, he 'owns' all that the novel encompasses, yet his comprehension of life is riddled within a strange shroud of misguided purpose and a directionless ego. Marquez distorts the boundaries in many aspects of his writing structure so that it seems a blending of actions and thoughts that are being portrayed in order to show with full effect this dictators life through all characters and descriptions, sometimes switching between first and third person within the same sentence, giving a sense of the often displaced and cold objectivity of this man. There is an interesting contrast here, as his world is a concentricity of solitude and paranoia, yet a free and rich world grows around him that he seems to never really be able to touch. This book is confusing to many people upon their first reaction, because it is a work of multi-faceted characteristics, packed with symbolic despcription and living sentences, all coming together to create a very unique work. This novel should, perhaps, be absorbed more than studied, as you can spend a lot of time trying to figure out the structure of it in order to form a linear perspective of what you are reading, but it's probably a waste of time once you realize that everything presented here lends to the broader environment instead of single plot turns or actions. I have read comments upon the complexity of this novel, which is understandable if one is used to reading the standard serial novel that we come to expect, but if you can grasp the kind of picture Marquez is trying to paint, it makes the novel a much simpler and enjoyable piec! e of art.
on 25 February 2002
As a fan of Gabriel Garcia Marquez it was with determination that I explored this book, with its lack of full-stops and rambling narrative. I have read it many times, and it is only now that I fully appreciate it. The story weaves through time and needs the extra read throughs before you can put all events together in your head, to give an overall picture of the incredible life that is being unravelled by the book. Like all his books it has the air of a dream world that is closely connected to our reality but allows you to suspend disbelief and live somewhere else for a while. It is definately a demanding book to read, but well worth the effort when you finally get to grips with what the author wants to protray to you.
on 13 June 2006
I've read and enjoyed many of Marquez's books, and would easily rate him as one of the best living writers. But if you want a place to start with Marquez, don't start here.
The Autumn of the Patriarch is an experiment in form. Here Marquez eschews the use of paragraphs (or, more accurately, each chapter consists of one paragraph which can last for aroud 30 pages), and can go for pages without a full stop.
What's more, the narrator seems to change even within the same sentence, moving from "I" to "he" to "we", while the information presented (you guess) comes from a soldier, a lover, a mother, the patriarch himself.
The result of these techniques is that as a reader, you relax into the book, worry less about what is being said and who is saying it, and instead let the imagery wash over you, resulting in an almost impressionistic experience of a life, rather than a story as such.
But there lies the weakness. There really isn't much of a story here, no beginning, middle and end. There are the usual fantastic elements of a Marquez novel - miracles and disasters included - but little sense to it all. That may be the very point, and in that it is successful, but as a reading experience this just isn't as enjoyable as his other books, and as a stylistic technique Jose Saramago does it better.
on 27 August 1998
Beware, those of you who have not read a Gabriel Garcia Marquez book yet! The style and literary techniques employed by the venerable author here are not, at first, user-friendly. In place of a sequence of actions, a run-on assault of descriptions tell the tale of a seemingly immortal yet completely despicable Caribbean tyrant. Sentences last for pages, each chapter is but one paragraph, the narrative perspective changes in mid-sentence, etc: This anti-traditional approach proves to be extremely rewarding, I felt the ending was even better than the build-up. Worthy of a score of Doctorate theses--but none by my hand. Upon finishing this book you will be awakened to a unique artistic literary style by one of the century's greatest authors--then go out and buy yourself some more Marquez novels. The more straightforward "General in his Labyrinth" and the illustrious "100 Years of Solitude" I also highly recommend.
on 3 January 1999
Gabriel Garcia Marquez's novel, The Autumn of the Patriarch, threw me into the sea to which he constantly referred to. The frustration in the beginning gradually swept over me, just enough so that I was able to enjoy the content of the book. Placing me in the twisted world of a disillusioned government official did more than shock me. It intrigued me, forced me to consider the world outside of my own, and tossed me into the tidal wave of symbolism, metaphor, and stream-of-conscious sentence structure. I recommend this book so that you, the reader, are able to touch upon this story that shocked the literary world beyond its wildest imagination.
on 10 May 1999
When I first began reading this book I must admit that I was confused by the stream of conciousness and one sentence chapters. But what a treat it was! It's rare the book that makes you stop to re-read a phrase to yourself while you exclaim, "Wow!" I recommend this book to anyone who has read Gabriel Garcia before. If not, read One hundred Years of Solitude before you pick this one up. You won't regret it!
on 28 June 1998
Written during 1968-1975, Marquez has fashioned a grand narrative of a Caribbean tyrant caught in the prison of his own power, slowly losing it and dying (with shades of Lear and Macbeth).Garcia Marquez's theme is once again solitude. The language is more like a poem than a novel -- sentences run on for pages, changing voice several times before coming to a period. This style can be irritating, forcing re-reading to find out who is speaking or acting, but it also lends a dream-like, fluid quality that perfectly embodies the ambiguity of reason and truth. In this it is Post Modern. In it's surreal content and luxuriant sensual prose (the translation by Gregory Rabassa is an inspiration), it shows who is the father of Magical Realism. It is worth reading alone for the details -- a herniated testicle that whistles, the effete torturer listening to Bruckner records, the mighty dictator napping in a hammock under tamarind trees at his mother's house while his cabinet ministers argue the fine points of law, and the final act that brings ruin on his nation -- the sale of the sea (numbered and boxed for shipping) to foreign creditors.
on 11 June 2014
I did not find this the most accessible of Marquez's novels, indeed I first picked it up in 1985 and did not persevere. I am so glad I gave it another chance, there are passages of stunning descriptions and moving episodes which reveal the contradictions that haunt the personality of the central character. It might take a bit of persistence to get over the lack of full stops but the style creates an atmosphere of the relentless passage of time. Only gave it one star less than five because it demands something of the reader, but that is not a bad thing.
G.G. Márquez's book is a written version of a polyptych by Hieronymus Bosch on the universal theme of `Evil' (on a moral, personal, political, social, economical or psychological level).
The main character in this book is a solitary despot.
His `regime of infamy' is an avalanche of killings, summary executions, massacres, suicides, cruelties, tortures, horror laboratories, expulsions, explosions, illnesses, plagues, obscenities, perversions, depravations, rapes, promiscuities, corruptions, hallucinations, evil omens, doubles, apparitions, filths, putrefactions, stenches, pestilential vapors, false messages, fictionalized photographs, physical deformities, alleged miracles, bird and child cries.
His most scorned enemies are men of letters, `worse than politicians, worse than priests.'
This forceful and relentless stream of (sur)real visions and violent images is a must read for all G.G. Márquez fans and for all lovers of world literature.
on 1 March 2000
If the aim of literature is to unmask the deepest workings of the mind, then this book is probably the furthest any writer has dared to go. Regardless of the theme, the style of the writing leaves the reader breathless. At times, I had to come up for air- it was as if I had been submerged into the darkest and most horrifyingly immediate corridors of my mind, the place where imagination, hope and fear meet unstoppable syntax to create a monster of unfathomable proportions. Gabriel Garcia Marquez has written a novel that will make you forget not just where you are but who and when you are. This is a black hole of a book and once you start reading it, there is no abandoning- you have to ride the storm through to the other side. A monolith of classic literature.