One hundred years of solitude

I won’t call this a book review, even though it will get categorized as one. There are some books which are beyond reviews, where all you can do is experience it and sit down and experience it more. Sometimes when you take a nap while reading it, it can play out in your dreams. More experiencing.

At some point I thought the book was about some Latin American politics and maybe I would not get it. Towards the end I kinda knew it was much more. It was all about humans and humankind itself. To say that the book is tragic would be an understatement. It’s built on the one word – solitude. Whether you are the kind who spends 3-20 days at a stretch celebrating and growing fat, or the kind that goes to war just for pride, or tours the world as a sailor tattooing every little inch of your body, there is one word that describes all – solitude, they either live through it or withdraw into it at the end.

The magical realism that he’s said to use in the novel adds that sense of mystique to the whole thing, somewhat like ‘Naayi Neralu’, just that here it is more of there for you, while in the latter you are not expected to have made up your mind on it, and can end up question it every few pages.

After those half a dozen generations, I felt myself plodding towards the end, weary and wondering when I’ll come to the end of it. It’s not the writing style, it’s the whole setting he creates right in your mind, of the village of Macondo that starts of as a tiny hamlet visited by gypsies, their only contact with the outside world, moving through generations, one with a war fought for pride, one with a banana boom, one with 4 years of non-stop rain after the boom. Towards the end when the times of the war and the gypsies seems like a long time ago (and it is!) the people in the town have no memory of those either, and the booming town starts resembling a desolate place waiting to be washed off. There are massacres which no one talks about, which makes you wonder how much of it was true or false, a rain that goes on 4 years playing with the minds of the people in the town. The Buendia residence itself, the house which starts off from a small one, expands, falls apart, falls lonely mirroring the family’s fortunes.

The parchments of a gypsy and their deciphering forms a constant background as someone or the other from each generation locks himself up in a room (which is mystical in its own way!) and tries to decipher them. The gypsy himself keeps coming back from the dead as a ghost to talk to the one working on them, slowly fading away until the whole set becomes clear when the 100 years of that family line he talks about is complete. The revelations form the last few paragraphs of the book.

This is not a book to be read, but to be experienced. No two characters are alike although the names keep repeating through the generations. Each one goes through life with a different set of experiences, but born alone, living alone (even through revelry or family), and dying alone, but the experiences seem circular as they mirror those from previous generations, as if they don’t learn from them.

P.S: Also, found this interesting discussion on the book, read it when you have read this book, not before!

P.P.S: This blog turns 7 today!! (Rather my blogging turns 7, this particular space is just around 2 years old, you know what I mean)


2 thoughts on “One hundred years of solitude

  1. I felt that it feels like a dream. Except the dream is so real, it is as if one lived through all the experiences that happened in Macondo. The last time I felt like this was with David Copperfield. When the writer is that powerful, I guess he can teleport one into a world of his creation.

    Once you knock this book down, you can easily read all his other books. Somewhat like RKN with Malgudi, he uses Macondo and the characters that appear here in his other books.

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