「當 馬康多在《聖經》所載那種龍捲風的怒號中化作可怕的瓦礫與塵埃漩渦 時，奧雷里亞諾為避免在熟知的事情上浪費時間又跳過十一頁，開始破譯他正度過的這一刻，譯出的內容恰是他當下的經歷，預言他正在破解羊皮卷的最後一頁，宛 如他正在會見言語的鏡中照影。他再次跳讀去尋索自己死亡的日期和情形，但 沒等看到最後一行便已明白自己不會再走出這房間，因為可以預料這座鏡子之城──或蜃景之城──將在奧雷里亞諾全部譯出羊皮卷之時被颶風抹去，從世人記憶中 根除，羊皮卷上所載的一切自永遠至永遠不會再重複，因為注定經受百年孤獨的家族不會有第二次機會在大地上出現。」
「我的好友馬奎斯在《百年孤寂》（One Hundred of Solitude）中，描寫陷入無可逃避的生命循環當中的人。我們不也是如此？
努 力不保證會成功，但是努力本身卻是保持對生命的信念唯一的途徑。當大限來臨，我希望別人會說，歐布萊特盡力運用天賜的一切，努力榮耀家族、報效國家，堅定 自由民主的立場，為年長女性揚眉吐氣，也讓年輕女子勇於表達自我。」 ──Madam Secretary by 歐布萊特Madeleine Albright
【綜 合報導】1982年諾貝爾文學獎得主、哥倫比亞文學家馬奎斯，前天因肺癌病逝，享壽87歲。馬奎斯的魔幻寫實風格對文壇影響甚鉅，其代表作《百年孤寂》被 譽為「全世界人類都該閱讀的文學作品」。作家駱以軍昨說，馬奎斯影響台灣、中國、香港等地的作家，包括張大春、朱天心、和中國首位諾貝爾文學獎得主莫言等 人。
馬奎斯（Gabriel Garcia Marquez）出生於哥倫比亞阿卡塔卡（Aracataca）小鎮，家境貧困，出生後不久就被父母留給外祖父母照顧。
但 《百年孤寂》中文版近幾年才被正式授權。據《中國青年報》報導，馬奎斯1990年造訪中國時被猖獗的盜版風氣惹毛了，曾誓言「死後150年都不授與（中 文）版權」，直至2010年才態度軟化授權中國出版商，而台灣至今未獲授權，出版此書的遠景、志文出版社昨表示，庫存賣完後，不會再版。
但 《百年孤寂》中文版近幾年才被正式授權。據《中國青年報》報導，馬奎斯1990年造訪中國時被猖獗的盜版風氣惹毛了，曾誓言「死後150年都不授與（中 文）版權」，直至2010年才態度軟化授權中國出版商，而台灣至今未獲授權，出版此書的遠景、志文出版社昨表示，庫存賣完後，不會再版。
AN APPRAISAL | GABRIEL GARCÍA MÁRQUEZ, 1927-2014
By MICHIKO KAKUTANI
Mr. García Márquez — who died on Thursday at his home in Mexico City, at the age of 87 — used his fecund imagination and sleight of hand to conjure the miraculous in his fiction.
Andres Reyes/FNPI, via Associated Press
魔幻現實主義的魔法師加夫列爾·加西亞·馬爾克斯(Gabriel García Márquez)星期四在墨西哥城家中逝世，享年87歲。他以豐沛的想像力與華麗狡黠的技法，在小說中營造出種種不可思議的奇景：失眠症與健忘症成為流行 疾疫、承載死亡秘密的魔法葡萄、無數黃色花朵整夜從天而降、大片滲出鮮血的百合花、被困在拉美叢林里的西班牙大型帆船，還有一出生就帶有主人烙印的牛犢。
這樣的畫面不僅顯示出他無窮盡的創作才思，也證明他包羅萬象的藝術 想像，能在庸常中捕捉特異之處，在奇幻中發現似曾相識。在《百年孤獨》(One Hundred Years of Solitude)、《族長的沒落》(The Autumn of the Patriarc)和《霍亂時期的愛情》(Love in the Time of Cholera)等小說中，加西亞·馬爾克斯把一整塊大陸的歷史書寫為神話，與此同時又為人類狀況勾勒出一幅拉伯雷式(Rabelaisian)的圖像， 展現出一個狂熱的夢，愛與痛苦乃至救贖無休止地循環往複，如同時光中的莫比烏斯環。
當然，現實與超現實、日常生活與寓言的交織，是20世紀下半葉拉丁 美洲等地盛行的魔幻現實主義的標誌性手法。在當時的拉丁美洲，歷史的恐怖與錯亂往往超出邏輯、理性與傳統敘事技巧範疇。譬如有「暴力」(La Violencia)之稱的哥倫比亞內戰，在20世紀40年代末至50年代令30萬人喪生，是馬爾克斯口中的拉丁美洲「特大號現實」之一，這樣的現實要求 一種超越傳統現實主義敘事理性的表達方式。
不過，加西亞·馬爾克斯在回憶錄《活着就是為了講故事》 (Living to Tell the Tale)中說得很清楚，他對這些夢幻場景的迷戀源自童年和家族史，當時正值他的祖國內戰與政治劇變。祖父把自家工坊的牆壁刷成白色，綽號蓋博 (Gabo)的小馬爾克斯可以用這個誘人的牆面隨手塗畫，肆意暢想；祖母每天都給他講自己經歷的那些幻相——沒人推動，搖椅自己搖來晃去；「花園裡茉莉的 香氣好像看不見的鬼魂一樣」。
童年時代，馬爾克斯住在僻遠的小鎮阿拉卡塔卡，那裡如同荒蠻的美國 西部，乾燥的龍捲風、折磨人的旱災、突如其來的洪水、蝗災，還有「風卷落葉」般眾多追求財富的人，他們被聯合水果公司帶來的所謂「香蕉狂潮」吸引而來。阿 拉卡塔卡為《百年孤獨》中虛構的馬孔多鎮提供了靈感來源；而加西亞·馬爾克斯自己的大家庭也啟發他寫下了書中多子多孫、令人驚異的布恩地亞 (Buendía)家族，他在那部小說中以飽滿的熱情對這個家族進行歌頌。奇蹟和駭人聽聞的事情都是馬孔多日常生活的一部分，在這座小鎮上，現實與夢幻的 邊界模糊不清。馬孔多是一種心態，是一個神話版本的拉丁美洲，也是作者通過回憶和懷舊對童年家鄉的再度想像。
就此而言，加西亞·馬爾克斯作品中的魔力始終建立在對現實的細心觀 察基礎之上——這種能力是他在早年的記者生涯中磨練出來的。從一開始，加西亞·馬爾克斯便慢慢發展出自己獨特的聲音，有着福克納與喬伊斯式的婉轉節奏、卡 夫卡式的隱喻手法，以及博爾赫斯式的夢幻想像。後來，《百年孤獨》和《族長的沒落》中特有的天馬行空的狂熱幻想漸漸變成了更溫和的魔法，一種對日常生活的 心領神會，認識到人類愛與痛苦的極端都可以在看似平凡的人生中找到——這些都體現在《霍亂時期的愛情》與《愛情和其他魔鬼》(Of Love and Other Demons)等作品之中。
他的一些小說將拉丁美洲扭曲的歷史上升到史詩般的高度，其中的個人 體驗也讓位給歷史性。《族長的沒落》為一個暴君描繪出夢幻般的肖像，他似乎是這片大陸上所有依靠鐵腕獲得權力的暴君的神話綜合體：一個一度受到擁戴的英 雄，把國家出賣給外國佬，殺害反對者，用勳章、難以想像的巨額財富和「宇宙將軍」之類謙遜的頭銜獎勵自己，最後在自己的宮殿中孤獨地死去，屍體被兀鷹啄 食。
《迷宮中的將軍》(The General in His Labyrinth)如同一種自由即興創作，描寫了19世紀革命家西蒙·玻利瓦爾(Simón Bolívar)的人生，在加西亞·馬爾克斯筆下，玻利瓦爾成了他小說中諸多虛構主人公的近親——一個被寵壞的夢想家，在殉道與享樂、宏大的野心與徹底的 幻滅之間掙扎。
歸根結底，加西亞·馬爾克斯小說中最核心的並不是政治，而是時間、 記憶與愛。大陸、國家與家族的歷史經常循環往複，回到起點；過去塑造着現在；激情可以改變人生的軌跡——這些旋律持續貫穿在馬爾克斯的小說之中，在一部部 長篇與短篇中迴響。在他晚年的作品，諸如《異鄉客》(Strange Pilgrims)里的短篇小說和中篇小說《我那些憂鬱婊子的回憶錄》(Memories of My Melancholy Whores)中，加西亞·馬爾克斯寫了若干籠罩在死亡陰影之下的年老人物，但死亡早在此前便是他作品中的焦點，可以追溯到他早年的中篇小說《葉子風暴》 (Leaf Storm)和《族長的沒落》等長篇。
加西亞·馬爾克斯曾寫過，年輕時，他相信自己在戀愛和金錢方面運氣 不佳是「天生的，不可救藥的」，但他並不在意，「因為我相信我根本用不着好運氣就能寫得很好」，「我不在乎榮耀、金錢和年老，因為我相信自己年紀輕輕就會 橫屍街頭」。他說，通過閱讀福克納和喬伊斯等大師的作品，他學到，「用不着去展現事實」，「對於作家來說，憑着他才華的力量與意見的權威，就足以令他寫下 的讀起來真實可信」。翻譯：董楠
Entwining Tales of Time, Memory and Love
An AppraisalApril 18, 2014
Gabriel García Márquez, foreground, with Colombian journalist José Salgar in 2003. As a writer, Mr. García Márquez found the familiar in the fantastic.
Andres Reyes/FNPI, via Associated Press
The Magus of magical realism, Gabriel García Márquez — who died on Thursday at his home in Mexico City, at the age of 87 — used his fecund imagination and exuberant sleight of hand to conjure the miraculous in his fiction: plagues of insomnia and forgetfulness, a cluster of magical grapes containing the secret of death, an all-night rain of yellow blossoms, a swamp of lilies oozing blood, a Spanish galleon marooned in a Latin American jungle, cattle born bearing the brand of their owner.
Such images were not simply tokens of his endlessly inventive mind, but testaments to his all-embracing artistic vision, which recognized the extraordinary in the mundane, the familiar in the fantastic. In novels like “One Hundred Years of Solitude,” “The Autumn of the Patriarch” and “Love in the Time of Cholera,” Mr. García Márquez mythologized the history of an entire continent, while at the same time creating a Rabelaisian portrait of the human condition as a febrile dream in which love and suffering and redemption endlessly cycle back on themselves on a Möbius strip in time.
Transactions between the real and surreal, the ordinary and the fabulous, of course, are a signature device of the magical realism that flourished in the second half of the 20th century in places like Latin America, where the horrors and dislocations of history frequently exceeded the reach of logic, reason and conventional narrative techniques. What he called the “outsized reality” of Latin America’s history — including the period of civil strife in Colombia known as La Violencia, which claimed the lives of as many as 300,000 during the late 1940s and ’50s — demanded a means of expression beyond the rationalities of old-fashioned narrative realism.
As Mr. García Márquez’s memoir “Living to Tell the Tale” made clear, however, his fascination with the phantasmagorical was as rooted in his own childhood and family history as it was in the civil wars and political upheavals of his country. His grandfather painted the walls of his workshop white so that the young boy, nicknamed Gabo, would have an inviting surface on which to draw and fantasize; his grandmother spoke of the visions she experienced everyday — the rocking chair that rocked alone, “the scent of jasmines from the garden” that “was like an invisible ghost.”
His childhood home was in the remote town of Aracataca, a Wild West sort of place, subject to dry hurricanes, killing droughts, sudden floods, plagues of locusts and “a leaf storm” of fortune hunters, drawn by the so-called banana fever fomented there by the arrival of the United Fruit Company. Aracataca would provide the seeds for the imaginary town of Macondo in “Solitude,” just as Mr. García Márquez’s own sprawling family would help inspire the story of the prolific and amazing Buendía clan memorialized with such ardor in that novel. Macondo is a place where the miraculous and the monstrous are equally part of daily life, a place where the boundaries between reality and dreams are blurred. It is, at once, a state of mind, a mythologized version of Latin America and a reimagining of the author’s boyhood town through the prism of memory and nostalgia.
For that matter, the magic in Mr. García Márquez’s work always remained grounded in a carefully observed reality — a skill honed by his early years as a reporter. From that start, Mr. García Márquez slowly developed his own distinctive voice — a voice with the sinuous rhythms of Faulkner and Joyce, the metaphorical reach of Kafka, the dreamlike imagery of Borges. In later years, the fevered flights of fantasy that distinguished “Solitude” and “Patriarch” would give way to a somewhat more muted sorcery, an appreciation — demonstrated in works like “Love in the Time of Cholera” and “Of Love and Other Demons” — of the everyday, combined with a recognition that the extremes of human love and suffering could be found in the seemingly most ordinary of lives.
“Love in the Time of Cholera” was a sort of Proustian meditation on time and an anatomy of love in all its forms — giddy adolescent love, mature love, romantic love, sexual love, spiritual love, even love so virulent it resembles cholera in its capacity to inflict pain. At the same time, it was also a kind of tribute to his own parents’ courtship and marriage.
The personal gave way to the historical in some novels that dealt on an epic level with the tortuous history of Latin America. “The Autumn of the Patriarch” created a hallucinatory portrait of a tyrant who seems like a mythic composite of every dictator to strong-arm his way to power on that continent: a once-feted hero, who sells out his country to the gringos, murders his opponents, rewards himself with medals, unimaginable wealth and the modest title “General of the Universe,” and who ends up completely isolated, discovered dead in his palace, pecked at by vultures.
As for “The General in His Labyrinth,” it performed a kind of free-form improvisation on the life of the 19th-century revolutionary Simón Bolívar, who becomes in Mr. García Márquez’s telling, a close relative of many of his fictional heroes — a spoiled dreamer, torn between martyrdom and hedonism, extravagant ambitions and crashing disillusion.
In the end, it’s not politics, but time and memory and love that stand at the heart of Mr. García Márquez’s work. How the histories of continents and nations and families often loop back on themselves; how time past shapes time present; how passion can alter the trajectory of a life — these are the melodies that thread their way persistently through his fiction, reverberating in novel after novel, story after story. In later works, like the stories in “Strange Pilgrims” and the novella “Memories of My Melancholy Whores,” Mr. García Márquez wrote about older characters, falling under the shadow of mortality, but then, death had long been a focal point in his work, going back to his early novella “Leaf Storm,” and on through novels like “The Autumn of the Patriarch.”
Mr. García Márquez once wrote that, as a young man, he believed his bad luck with women and money was “congenital and irremediable,” but he did not care, “because I believed I did not need good luck to write well,” and “I did not care about glory, or money, or old age, because I was sure I was going to die very young, and in the street.” He learned, in reading the works of the masters like Faulkner and Joyce, he said, that “it was not necessary to demonstrate facts,” that it “was enough for the author to have written something for it to be true, with no proofs other than the power of his talent and the authority of his voice.”
Gabriel García Márquez, Nobel Prize-winning explorer of myth and reality, dies at 87
View Photo Gallery — Nobel laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez dies at 87: Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the master of magical realism whose rich and allusive explorations of myth and reality in Latin America won him the Nobel Prize for literature and a place among the greatest writers of the 20th century, died April 17 at his home in Mexico City. He was 87.
By Marcela Valdes, E-mail the writer
Gabriel García Márquez, the Nobel Prize-winning Colombian writer who immersed the world in the powerful currents of magic realism, creating a literary style that blended reality, myth, love and loss in a series of emotionally rich novels that made him one of the most revered and influential writers of the 20th century, died April 17 at his home in Mexico City. He was 87.
The Associated Press reported his death. In July 2012, his brother Jaime García Márquez announced that the author had dementia.
Mr. García Márquez, who was affectionately known throughout Latin America as “Gabo,” was a journalist, novelist, screenwriter, playwright, memoirist and student of political history and modernist literature. Through the strength of his writing, he became a cultural icon who commanded a vast public following and who sometimes drew fire for his unwavering support of Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
In his novels, novellas and short stories, Mr. García Márquez addressed the themes of love, loneliness, death and power. Critics generally rank “One Hundred Years of Solitude” (1967), “The Autumn of the Patriarch” (1975) and “Love in the Time of Cholera” (1985) as his masterpieces.
“The world has lost one of its greatest visionary writers — and one of my favorites from the time I was young,” President Obama said in a statement, calling the author “a representative and voice for the people of the Americas.”
Mr. García Márquez established his reputation with “One Hundred Years of Solitude,” an epic novel about multiple generations of the Buendía family in the fantastical town of Macondo, a lush settlement based on the author’s birthplace on the Caribbean coast of Colombia. The novel explored social, economic and political ideas in a way that captured the experience of an entire continent, but it also included supernatural elements, such as a scene in which a young woman ascends to heaven while folding the family sheets.
By fusing two seemingly disparate literary traditions — the realist and the fabulist — Mr. García Márquez advanced a dynamic literary form, magic realism, that seemed to capture both the mysterious and the mundane qualities of life in a decaying South American city. For many writers and readers, it opened up a new way of understanding their countries and themselves.
In awarding Mr. García Márquez the literature prize in 1982, the Nobel committee said he had created “a cosmos in which the human heart and the combined forces of history, time and again, burst the bounds of chaos.”
“One Hundred Years of Solitude” has been translated into more than 35 languages and has sold, by some accounts, more than 50 million copies. The Chilean poet and Nobel laureate Pablo Neruda described the book as “the greatest revelation in the Spanish language since the Don Quixote of Cervantes.”
Mr. García Márquez parlayed his literary triumphs into political influence, befriending international dignitaries such as President Bill Clinton and François Mitterrand, the late president of France. The celebration for Mr. García Márquez’s 80th birthday was attended by five Colombian presidents and the king and queen of Spain.
Yet few knew the penury the author endured before achieving fame. “Everyone’s my friend since ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude,’ ” Mr. García Márquez once told a brother, “but no one knows what it cost me to get there.”
From ‘the House’ to the world
Gabriel José García Márquez was born March 6, 1927, in Aracataca, a town near Colombia’s Caribbean coast. He was the eldest child of a local beauty and a telegraph-operator-turned-itinerant-pharmacist — some called him a “quack doctor” — but Mr. García Márquez was raised mostly by his maternal grandparents, the pragmatic Col. Nicolás Márquez Mejía and the superstitious Tranquilina Iguarán Cote.
Mr. García Márquez later called the colonel, a veteran of two civil wars, “the most important figure in my life” and “my umbilical cord with history and reality.” They lived in a rambling complex of rooms and terraces, which Mr. García Márquez would often call simply “the House.”
The author had a charmed yet melancholy childhood. Aracataca once flourished under the banana business of the U.S.-based United Fruit Co. but slowly declined after December 1928, when more than 1,000 striking banana workers in nearby Ciénaga were massacred by the Colombian army. Macondo, the town in “One Hundred Years of Solitude,” was named after a United Fruit plantation.
Eventually, Mr. García Márquez was reunited with his parents and siblings in Sucre, a river settlement in Colombia that became the setting for some of his darkest books.
He escaped by winning a scholarship to a secondary school near Bogotá, the capital of Colombia. After graduating in 1946, he enrolled in law school at the National University of Colombia. Poor and rail-thin, he asserted himself through his literary prowess. Neglecting his classes, he devoted himself to reading and writing, publishing short fiction in the Bogotá newspaper El Espectador.
His literary endeavors were interrupted when the populist leader Jorge Eliécer Gaitán was assassinated in 1948. The killing led to days of rioting in Bogotá and marked the beginning of a period of political repression known as “La Violencia.” Within about 10 years, between 200,000 and 300,000 Colombians were killed.
When the riots caused the law school to close, Mr. García Márquez moved to Cartagena, where he launched a career in journalism. Later he would say that the assassination greatly influenced his understanding of politics.
During these years, the author was often so poor that he had no place to live. In Barranquilla, just up the coast from Cartagena, he found his first apartment: a cheap room in a brothel nicknamed “the Skyscraper.” He said this was the perfect environment for a writer — quiet during the day, the scene of a party every night.
It was not until 1954, when he joined the staff of the El Espectador, that he gained financial stability. The next year, he published his first novel, “Leaf Storm,” a tale about the burial of a reclusive doctor in Macondo. It went virtually unnoticed.
In 1955, he became El Espectador’s European correspondent, visiting the Eastern Bloc and studying at the Experimental Film Center of Cinematography in Rome between deadlines. He was on assignment in Paris when his newspaper was closed by the Colombian government.
Rather than return home, Mr. García Márquez remained in the French capital for two years, living hand to mouth while completing “No One Writes to the Colonel,” a glittering short novel about a war veteran who would rather starve than sell his fighting rooster. The story, published in 1961, was influenced by Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea” and Italian director Vittorio De Sica’s neorealist films, such as “Umberto D.”
After returning to South America in 1957, Mr. García Márquez held a series of journalism jobs. He married his longtime fiancée, Mercedes Barcha, in 1958. He moved to Mexico in 1961, beginning one of the most disheartening and exhilarating periods of his life.
When he arrived in Mexico City, Mr. García Márquez had few friends and no prospects of work. He aimed for the movie industry, but when his family ran out of food, he took a job editing a women’s magazine and a crime magazine on the condition that his name would never appear in either. Later he landed jobs as a scriptwriter and as an advertising copywriter.
In his mid-30s, his ability to write fiction appeared to have dried up. His previous novel had been written in Paris, and he couldn’t seem to finish another. According to the Uruguayan critic Emir Rodríguez Monegal, who first met Mr. García Márquez around this time, he was “a tortured soul, an inhabitant of the most exquisite hell: that of literary sterility.”
Yet several important events occurred during his creative drought. First, Mr. García Márquez began reading the original magic realists: Mexican Juan Rulfo, Cuban Alejo Carpentier and Guatemalan Miguel Ángel Asturias, who would later win the Nobel Prize in literature. Next, he discovered the sophisticated Latin American novels that were being published in the movement known as “El Boom,” including those by the Mexican writer Carlos Fuentes, who embraced Mr. García Márquez as part of the group despite his lack of recent work.
One day in 1965, as Mr. García Márquez drove from Mexico City to Acapulco for a holiday weekend, everything changed. According to legend, he was navigating a twisting highway when the first sentence of “Solitude” suddenly formed in his mind:
“Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.”
In that line’s mix of past and present, military and miraculous, lay the germ of the entire book.
For the next year, Mr. García Márquez did nothing but write while his wife pawned almost all their possessions to feed the family. “I didn’t know what my wife was doing, and I didn’t ask any questions,” he told an interviewer. “But when I finished writing, my wife said: ‘Did you really finish it? We owe $12,000.’ ”
Their financial gamble paid off. A few weeks after the novel’s publication in Buenos Aires, the couple visited the Argentine capital’s most prestigious theater. As they looked for their seats, the entire audience gave them a spontaneous standing ovation.
In Gerald Martin’s biography of Mr. García Márquez, journalist Tomás Eloy Martínez recalled: “At that precise moment, I saw fame come down from the sky, wrapped in a dazzling flapping of sheets, like Remedios the Beautiful, and bathe García Márquez in one of those winds of light that are immune to the ravages of time.”
Although magic realism had existed long before “Solitude” appeared, Mr. García Márquez’s version of it captivated readers because it was informed by both a gritty engagement with Latin American politics (thanks to his years in journalism) and an intimate knowledge of folkloric beliefs (thanks to his grandmother in Aracataca).
Its characters include both the Colonel Aureliano Buendía (father of 17 sons by 17 women, perpetrator of 32 uprisings and survivor of 14 assassination attempts) and the gypsy Melquíades, who can see the future and cast spells. Its plot includes a massacre of banana workers and a rainstorm that lasts four years, 11 months and two days. And its prose was a revelation: luminous, opulent, ecstatic.
The result, William Deresiewicz wrote in the Nation, is that Mr. García Márquez’s “impossible fusion of subject and tone gives utterance to the Latin American soul: by fronting the continent’s tragic history with the unquenchable fiesta of his style.”
Politics, patriarch and punch
In the years after that Argentine ovation, Mr. García Márquez transformed into an international celebrity. He moved from Mexico to Barcelona, where he socialized with all the major writers of El Boom. He became particularly close to the Peruvian novelist Mario Vargas Llosa, who named Mr. García Márquez the godfather of his second son.
Yet rifts in the friendship emerged in 1968 when the Cuban dissident Heberto Padilla was awarded a major literary prize against Castro’s wishes. The event proved a watershed moment for Latin American intellectuals. Most, including Vargas Llosa, supported Padilla and free speech. Mr. García Márquez supported Castro. When Castro imprisoned Padilla in 1971, the writers’ alliance cooled further.
The final break came in 1976, at a movie premiere in Mexico City. When Mr. García Márquez approached with an effusive, open-armed greeting (“Brother!”), Vargas Llosa punched him in the face. After the incident, rumors spread that there had been some impropriety with Vargas Llosa’s wife. (According to Martin, Mr. García Márquez’s most thorough biographer, the truth has never been uncovered.)
By that point, Mr. García Márquez was used to scandal. After Chile’s democratically elected government was overthrown by a military coup in 1973, he declared a literary “strike” to involve himself more directly in leftist politics.
His first move was to return to political journalism by co-founding the Colombian magazine Alternativa. His debut contribution was titled “Chile, the Coup, and the Gringos.” (The magazine was bombed the next year.)
His second move was to court the friendship of Castro. He decided, for instance, to write an article about Cuba’s military involvement in Angola and to submit the article to Castro for editing and approval before publication. Although the author’s meetings with Castro occasionally led to the release of Cuban prisoners, the Cuban dissident Reinaldo Arenas called Mr. García Márquez an “unscrupulous propagandist for communism who, taking refuge in the guarantees and facilities which liberty provides, set out to undermine it.”
Appropriately, the only novel Mr. García Márquez published during this period — “The Autumn of the Patriarch” (1975) — was a stunning meditation on the psychology and stratagems of power. Completed before his strike, the book portrays an unnamed tyrant who has been in power so long that no one can remember any other ruler. He ends up surrounded by people who tell him what he wants to hear but make fun of him behind his back.
Told in flashbacks in only 100 sentences, the book ranks among Mr. García Márquez’s most complex works. The novel, he declared, was “almost a personal confession, a totally autobiographical book” — a statement that has perplexed literary critics.
The great change
In 1980, after years of government pressure, Alternativa closed. The event marked the end of Mr. García Márquez’s overt political activism and his turn toward diplomacy and backroom mediation. It also cleared the way for his most electrifying literary period.
In 1981, he published “Chronicle of a Death Foretold,” a suspenseful and technically dazzling interpretation of the honor killing of his friend Cayetano Gentile in Sucre. Its opening print run (2 million copies) was the largest in history for a work of literary fiction.
Four years later, he brought out “Love in the Time of Cholera.” Partly based on his parents’ courtship, it tells the story of a man who loses the love of his youth but wins her back a half-century later, after her husband dies rescuing a parrot in a mango tree.
Then, in 1989, at the age of 62, Mr. García Márquez published “The General in His Labyrinth,” a meticulously researched novel about Simon Bolívar, the liberator of South America.
Still thriving at 71, he bought Cambio magazine in Colombia with a group of investors and conducted an interview with Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. In 1999, he received a diagnosis of lymphoma and was seldom seen in public in the last decade of his life.
Survivors include his wife, two sons, seven brothers and sisters, and a half sister.
As Mr. García Márquez’s health and memory faded, so, inevitably, did his literary muscle. His last four books — “Of Love and Other Demons” (1994), “News of a Kidnapping” (1996), “Living to Tell the Tale” (2001) and “Memories of My Melancholy Whores” (2004) — are generally considered his weakest.
Meanwhile, the next generation of Latin American writers turned him into a symbol of the fiction and the politics they rejected. A 1996 anthology called “McOndo” suggested that his vision of a tragi-miraculous Caribbean countryside had no relevance in a world dominated by McDonald’s. The region’s next rising star, the Chilean novelist Roberto Bolaño, scorned his cozy relationship with power.
Yet even those rebellions proved Mr. García Márquez’s enduring influence. Three decades after the publication of “Solitude,” he was still the titan with whom every serious Latin American writer needed to reckon.
He forged Latin America’s most contagious and original style. He wrote its most influential and popular books about the motives of tyrants and the endurance of love. And he explained what connects his perennial themes: “You know, old friend, the appetite for power is the result of an incapacity for love.”
Valdes is a writer specializing in Latin American literature.