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Living to Tell the Tale

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The truth of my soul was that the drama of Colombia reached me like a remote echo and moved me only when it spilled over into rivers of blood” [p. 401]. What does the memoir convey about Colombia’s troubled political history? How critical to García Márquez’s formation as an adult was the assassination of Jorge Eliécer Gaitán and the violence that followed [pp. 312–13]? How is the experience of political upheaval here reflected in the historical or political consciousness of his fiction? The memoir begins, “My mother asked me to go with her to sell the house” [p. 3], and then weaves a story of how and why that day was unforgettable: “This simple two-day trip would be so decisive that the longest and most diligent of lives would not be enough for me to finish recounting it. Now, with more than seventy-five years behind me, I know it was the most important of all the decisions I had to make in my career as a writer. That is to say: in my entire life” [p. 5]. The sentence is reminiscent of many moments in One Hundred Years of Solitude, when an event is identified as setting in motion the story and the meanings that flow from it. If García Márquez is deliberately tying a moment in his own life to certain moments in his fiction, where a decisive, unforgettable experience is illuminated and obsessively returned to, what is he suggesting about the nature of his own story?

In One Hundred Years of Solitude it is the massacre of banana plantation workers which brings the harsh, real world into the magical realm. And in this volume, we realise how isolated the young García Márquez is as he grows up in the Colombia of the 1930s and 40s. There is none of the ideological struggle that affected European writers, no sense of the terror and moral anguish that German Nazism posed for writers in the western mainstream. To the young García Márquez, Europe is Rilke, Le Grand Meaulnes, or surprisingly perhaps, Mrs Dalloway. The challenges it poses are purely literary, rather than political. Gabriel García Márquez's experiences and his family colour much of his fiction, but part of García Márquez's great talent is how he takes fact and recreates it as fiction.Two brothers, Hung and Huy Nguyen, were on board with their other siblings and parents, who owned a cinema chain in Saigon before it was seized by the new communist government. Hung was 18 and chose to leave even though he had won a prized place at medical school. “There was no question about whether I should go or not. As a medical student you are cream of the crop, but you’re also government property,” he said. “Growing up at that time, it really bothered me because of the freedom thing. They can stop you on the street and cut your hair if your hair is too long. When you talk, you have to watch your mouth.”

Others among the Wellpark refugees said they regularly found themselves in fights with racists at school or on the streets of the council estates where they lived. Some of the adults struggled with a new language and found only irregular work far below the professional positions they had once held. But, in time, their children thrived. I didn't marry until I had my parents' blessing," she said. "Unwilling, I grant you, but I had it."He is perhaps the most acclaimed, revered and widely read writer of our time, and in this first volume of a planned trilogy, Gabriel Garcia Marquez begins to tell the story of his life. Living to Tell the Tale spans Marquez’s life from his birth in 1927 through the beginning of his career as a writer to the moment in the 1950s when he proposed to the woman who would become his wife. It is a tale of people, places and events as they occur to him: family, work, politics, books and music, his beloved Colombia, parts of his history until now undisclosed and incidents that would later appear, transmuted and transposed in his fiction. A vivid, powerful, beguiling memoir that gives us the formation of Marquez as a writer and as a man. Living to Tell the Tale by Gabriel García Márquez – eBook Details It is filled with wonderful scenes and details, as García Márquez casually introduces all sorts of bits of information and experiences, from a flight in which it rains in the plane, to paying a gratuity to someone who had gotten the necessary vaccinations in his place (as that person had done "daily for years" for those in a hurry) to his pseudonym for his column in El Heraldo (Septimus, after Septimus Warren Smith in Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway). Hung took his four children, then aged 10 to 16. “I told them: ‘If it wasn’t for these people you wouldn’t be here. None of us would be here.’

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