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Mainstream, VOL LX No 23, New Delhi, May 28, 2022

Reading the Literary Imagination of Gabriel Garcia Marquez | Arup Kumar Sen

Friday 27 May 2022, by Arup Kumar Sen

Gabriel Garcia Marquez is a big name in Latin American Literature. One may be interested to know how he made his entry into the world of literature. To put it in his own words: “It had never occurred to me that I could be a writer, but in my student days Eduardo Zalamea Borda, editor of the literary supplement of ElEspectador, in Bogota, published a note in which he said that the younger generation of writers had nothing to offer, that a new short-story writer, a new novelist, could not be seen anywhere...Then a feeling of solidarity with my generational companions arose in me, and I resolved to write a story simply to shut the mouth of Eduardo Zalamea Borda, who was my great friend or, at least,became my great friend later. (‘How I Began to Write’ in Gabriel Garcia Marquez, I’m Not Here to Give a Speech, Viking, 2014)

In his Nobel Lecture (1982), Marquez highlighted the poetic roots of his writings: “In every line I write I always try, with greater or lesser success, to invoke the elusive spirits of poetry and leave in each word a testimony to my devotion because of its powers of divination and its permanent victory over the muffled powers of death”. (‘A Toast to Poetry’ in ibid)

The poetic imagination of Gabriel Garcia Marquez is very much rooted in Latin American reality. This was evident in his Nobel Lecture: “I presume to think that it is this singular reality, and not only its literary expression, that has deserved the attention this year of the Swedish Academy of Letters. A reality not made of paper but one that lives with us and determines every instant of our countless daily deaths, and that sustains a constant surge of insatiable creation, filled with misfortune and beauty, of which this errant, nostalgic Colombian is simply another number marked by good fortune. Poets and beggars, warriors and scoundrels, all of us who are creatures of that disordered reality have had to ask very little of our imaginations, because the greatest challenge for us has been the insufficiency of conventional devices to make our lives believable. This, friends, is the core of our solitude”. (‘The Solitude of Latin America’ in ibid.)

The greatness of Gabriel Garcia Marquez as a writer lies in the fact that his literary and creative imagination was organically connected with the soil of his land.

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