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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.
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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.
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on 25 August 2017
This is a brilliant story with fantastic descriptive sequences that create in the mind whole vistas of hot weather, tropical properties and multidimensional characters. The story has a sweet love story as the main theme but has many layers below it that show the complexities of relationships between husband and wife. The story works well only because of the great way that Marquez builds such depth in the characters he has created.
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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.
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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.
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on 3 August 2000
I tried really hard to like this book. But failed. Endless wearily surreal sentences as the crows flap in slow motion over a decaying and brutal world. There is a contract between the writer and reader of believability - do you really believe the patriarch could survive as head of state and still be completely illiterate? I don't . The pointless violence was also very wearing on my patience. Marquez I think is a little in love with his own pomposities, and it is with relief that I chuck this back to the second hand shop
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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!
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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.
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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.
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on 25 June 1998
This dictator combines within himself, the best and the worst, of the human being when invested with absolute power: from charity to corruption, benevolence to rape, fear of God to extreme cruelty. The (sparse) punctuation follows an almost strict fitting of the Poisson statistical distribution, page by page, and then amongst chapters, constituting this into both a textbook in literature and statistics.
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