Saturday, January 28, 2006

García Márquez's Quixotic Love Story

Just finished Gabriel García Márquez's first novel in ten years, Memorias de Mis Putas Tristes (see sidebar), or, in the English version, Memories of My Melancholy Whores. GGM won the Nobel Prize for Literature in '82, largely due to his short stories and Cien Años de Soledad, a circular, confusing, but breathtaking novel about love, life, death, magic realism--in all their earthiness.

Memorias is not so profound a work as it is sadly quixotic--the main character, a 90-year old, retired columnist who's spent his life going from brothel to brothel for sexual encounters, decides to celebrate his 90th birthday by spending a night with an adolescent virgin. He spends that night, however, merely looking at the nude, sleeping girl, entranced by her pure beauty. The rest of the book details his repeated requests to spend night after night--an entire year--looking at the one he considers the only girl he's ever loved. Yet it's clear he merely loves the idea of her--at one point she briefly wakes and says something, and he decides immediately that he likes her better asleep--and is determined to remain ignorant even of her real name: his ideal woman--he calls her Delgadina for lack of an actual name--is really his Dulcinea. Sadder, pues, because, unlike Quijote, it is clear that our unnamed protagonist knowingly and overtly chooses to favor his idealism over that which is in front of him, yet still reminiscent of the Don, as his choosing to escape the imposition of his age (imposed by all around him, from co-workers to total strangers) through finding youthful feelings he'd never before experienced and tenaciously clinging to this surreal fantasy, states that one truly can be only as old as one feels.

Not his best work--the description is somewhat drier than Cien Años--but the earthy theme of falling for the young, virginal (and exploited) purity is faithfully visited yet again. An overall enjoyable read.

3 comments:

quijotefan83 said...

I have the book but haven't read it yet (dang grad school with its assignments and readings... I haven't read for fun since last November), but I heard an interesting review of it when it came out, from a friend of mine from Bogota. This is apparently the first Garcia-Marquez book that Colombian papers fealt bold enough to criticize. If beign critical means saying, 'great book, but he's done better.'

I need to get to reading it though if it has such strong Cervantes ties. Then again, all Spanish literature has been a reaction to Don Quijote. The Latin Americans are just better at it then the Spaniards :P

Ayyyyy.. opiniones opiniones opiniones. Have you read Pedro Paramo yet? Or Juguete rabioso?

David Bryan said...

No, haven't read either. Grad school for me is still a year or so away, as my wife is about to finish her grad work and, since I've been the only one working since she had our first child, we'll have to wait a bit to get out of debt and into a position where we can afford school.

Yeah, this was definitely not his best work, but I enjoyed it immensely...mostly the experience of reading a novel in Spanish for the first time in over four years...

Thanks for posting!

Raoul The Destroyer said...

He he he... do you have any idea who quijotefan83 is? ;)

Here's a clue... "hola, hermano..."