Gabriel García Márquez - Biography
Gabriel García Márquez (1927 - ) is one of the most preeminent writers of Magical Realism. Marquez resists predetermined plot structures. His writing forces readers to actively engage with it to provide essential details. Some critics view this technique as deriving from Gabriel García Márquez readings of the dramas of Sophocles since in these plays action often happens off stage. Marquez was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature.
Although Gabriel García Márquez is known as a master of Magical Realism, reality is a central theme in much of his work. Marquez claims much of his early work, all reflect the reality of life in Colombia and this theme determines the rational structure of the books. "I don't regret having written them, but they belong to a kind of premeditated literature that offers too static and exclusive a vision of reality." His later work he experimented with different way of addressing reality. One method that Gabriel García Márquez used was to describe the bizarre and unsettling details of a story “with the deadpan expression.” Solitude is another key theme that is thread throughout of much of Gabriel García Márquez’s literary work. His acceptance speech for his Nobel Prize was entitled Solitude of Latin America. Marquez uses the civil conflict “LaViolencia”—the war between the liberals and conservatives in Colombia that continued until the 1960s. Marquez never allowed his writing to devolve into a mere platform for political commentary.
Gabriel García Márquez was born in Aracataca, Colombia on the sixth of March. 1928. His mother’s father was a retired colonel who had strong left leaning political views. Garcia’s father had dropped out of medical school and maintained a very conservative stance. Garcia’s father had sired four children out of wedlock and seemed like a poor prospect for marriage. His persistence eventually wore down the colonel’s objections and the marriage was allowed. Gabriel García Márquez was the first of twelve children to come from this union. Marquez would use the inspiration of his parents’ romance as the basis for El Amor en los Tiempos de Colera or Love in the Time of Cholera.
Until Marquez was eight, he lived with his maternal grandparents in Aracataca. His grandmother, Tranquilina Iguaran Cotes, was an avid storyteller. She gave Marquez a deep reservoir of folkloric knowledge about omens, premonitions, dead ancestors and ghosts. The sincere manner in which she told her stories would have a profound effect on the mature writings of Gabriel García Márquez. His grandfather, Ricardo Marquez Mejia, had fought in at least two Colombian civil conflicts. His stories of battle and conflict captured Gabriel García Márquez’s imagination.
When his grandfather died in 1936, Gabriel García Márquez was returned to the custody of his parents in north central Colombia. Marquez only stayed with his parents for only a short time before being sent to boarding school. Marquez was a studious boy who his classmates called “The Old Man.” He avoided athletics, but drew comics at an early age as a way of expressing stories he did not yet have the language skills to express.
The Jesuit Liceo Nacional gave Gabriel García Márquez a scholarship when Marquez was fourteen. This secondary school was located near Bogotá in the city of Zipaquira. He graduated from this school in 1946. Marquez wanted to pursue a career in journalism.
He attended the National University of Colombia in Bogotá. At his family’s insistence, Gabriel García Márquez studied law. Marquez detested this study. In 1947, the literary supplement of El Espectadorpublished one of Marquez’s short stories. This marked the first of ten stories El Espectador would print.
In 1948, Jorge Eliecer Gaitan Ayala, a prominent Colombian Liberal Party member, was assassinated. This act would incite a decade long period of civil strife known as La Violencia. La Violencia, which engulfed every Colombian, took the lives of over three hundred thousand individuals and led to the flight of over one million Colombians to neighboring countries. In the second year of the conflict, the National University of Colombia shut its doors. Marquez relocated to Cartagena. At the University of Cartagena, Marquez continued to pursue his legal studies. As Marquez pursued his education, he began to write pieces of journalism. He never completed his degree.
In 1950, Gabriel García Márquez relocated to Barranquilla. Marquez wrote columns for El Heraldo, a daily paper. In Barrangulla, Marquez lived in a small room that was located in a four-story brothel. Despite his limited resources, his literary life took root. He consumed the literature which was to inspire his later work: Virginia Woolf, Sophocles, William Faulkner, Franz Kafka, James Joyce and Ernest Hemingway. Marquez wrote his first novella, which in 1952 he would revise as La Hojarasca or The Leaf Storm. In 1955, the friends of Gabriel García Márquez would find this manuscript and would have it published.
This first novella shows a clear lineage from William Faulkner in the gothic tone and complex structure. In addition, Gabriel García Márquez’s use of the village of Macondo is used and returned to as his version of Faulkner’s Yoknapatawhpa County. However, the irreal elements and accessibility of the story mark it as a text that has come out from the shadow of William Faulkner’s work.
Marquez returned to Bogotá in 1954. He found work at El Espectadoras a reporter and film reviewer. Marquez used his position to expose government ineptitude and corruption including the wreck of a ship. This expose came at the expense of irritating the Colombian dictator Gustavo Rojas Pinilla. In 1989, this story would be published in English as The Story of the Shipwrecked Sailor..
El Espectadorfeared the backlash from the government for the embarrassing nature of the expose. In order to stave off any true violent or political revenge, the paper sent Gabriel García Márquez to Europe as a foreign correspondent. While in Europe, the government closed El Espectador Gabriel García Márquez was reduced to poverty. Marquez worked hand-to-mouth during the days and spent his nights writing fiction.
In 1957, Gabriel García Márquez finished El Coronel No Tiene Quien Le Escriba or No One Writes to the Colonel. Marquez then traveled back across the Atlantic Ocean and found a position at the magazine, Momento, in Caracas, Venezuela. Until 1959, Marquez continued to live and work in Venezuela. In 1958, Marquez married Mercedes Barcha Pardo in Barranquilla, Colombia. Their first son was born in 1959.
Gabriel García Márquez founded a Bogotá branch of Prensa Latina, the Cuban press agency. In 1961, Marquez moved to New York City to work in the office of Prensa Latina. The same year, he would travel New Orleans, Louisiana before finally settling his young family in Mexico City.
In 1967, Editorial Sudamericana in Buenos Aires, Argentina, published. One Hundred Years of Solitude. Gabriel García Márquez’s novel was immediately, and has continued to be, successful. Marquez was awarded with international prizes including the French Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger, the Italian Premio Chianciano, the American Neustadt Prize, and Venezuelan Romulo Gallegos Prize.
With such success Gabriel García Márquez moved his family to Barcelona, Spain, where he continued to write. By 1973, Marquez returned to political activism. He supported many left wing causes in Latin America. His political affiliation aligned him with the Communist Cuban government, and the United States Department of State forbade him from entering United States without special permission.
Gabriel García Márquez returned to Columbia in 1974. Marquez created the newspaper Alternativa based in Bogotá. In 1975, he released the novel The Autumn of the Patriarch. In this novel, Marquez writes of a nameless dictator who clings to power in a Caribbean nation.
Gabriel García Márquez would flee from Colombia after a trip to Cuba in 1981. The Colombian government had planned to arrest Marquez and charge him with financially supporting M-19, a left-wing military group. Mexico granted Marquez asylum, the French government awarded him the Legion of Honor. Adding to the international shaming of Colombia, Marquez won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982.
When Belisario Betencur became the new president of Colombia, he asked Marquez to return home and offered the writer many political appointments. Gabriel García Márquez rejected the political appointments. Marquez continued his prolific writing—although he considered himself a journalist who wrote fiction.
In 1995, he created the Foundation for a New Ibero-American Journalism in Cartagena, which received UNESCO funds. This organization helps young journalists learn the craft of journalism. In 1999, Gabriel García Márquez was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer. His production of literary and journalistic work has subsequently declined.
Carlos Fuentes claims that Gabriel García Márquez is “the most popular and perhaps best writer in Spanish since [Miguel de] Cervantes.” Marquez views his own work as part of a tradition of Latin American writers. He claims that his Nobel Prize for Literature represented an acknowledgement of the greatness of Latin American literature.