Last month, we noted the fiftieth anniversary of the publication Jack Kerouac's famous road novel, On the Road. This month we want to acknowledge the fortieth anniversary of another novel, this one even more acclaimed than Kerouac's 1950s "beat" book.
This month's novel, completed in August 1967, is One Hundred Year of Solitude by the Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Since its publication, the novel has become a internationally acclaimed work with more than 50 million readers. Some critics call it the greatest work in Spanish since Don Quixote.
A recent AP story on Garcia Marquez, now 80, reported on the author's poverty as he created Solitude. His wife had to hock her jewels to pay the rent and buy food for the family as he struggled to complete the book.
When the manuscript was completed, he could only afford postage to mail half of the book to his editor, and then mistakenly sent the second half. Fortunately, the editor forwarded money so Garcia Marquez could mail the rest of the manuscript.
Gerald Martin, a Garcia Marquez scholar at the University of Pittsburgh quoted by the AP, said One Hundred Years of Solitude was the first novel in which Latin Americans recognized themselves. The book, Martin said, celebrated their passion, intensity, and spirituality.
The AP also quoted former President Bill Clinton, a Garcia Marquez fan. Clinton said he read Solitude in law school and couldn't put it down. "I believe he's the most important writer of fiction in any language since William Faulkner died," Clinton said.
Whatever the literary verdict on Garcia Marquez, we can attest to the brilliance of Solitude, even in its English translation. It's been a while, but we too were transfixed by the magic of Garcia Marquez.