Harold Zarate Diaz
The Latin American culture is showed by
Magical Realism in Gabriel Garcia Marquez literature.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez has been linked to a style called “Magical Realism”. This type of literature is characterized by few elements of reality and a lot of fantasy. The purpose of this essay is to show how Marquez represents the philosophy and idiosyncrasy of Latin America culture. The term “Magical Realism” has a lot of controversies based on the time when this kind of literature showed up and the themes or topics that have been covered. Without any doubts this is literature with elements of fiction, fantasy and a lot of imagination.
Few others authors around the world have been working with the exciting and fantastic point of view where a simple ordinary event changes into an extraordinary situation. Gunter Grass in Germany, John Fowels in England are few of them in Europe as well as Jorge Luis Borges and Isabel Allende in South America. But why is Garcia Marquez is different? Why did he win a Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982? The answer would be the authenticity of his narrative, the link with his cultural background. Marquez is a natural storyteller. He wants to tell stories he knows from his grandmother “She told things that sounded supernatural and fantastic, but she told them with complete naturalness” This is exactly the tone used by Marquez, he just report incidents and events from his own culture in a natural tone. Supernatural things happen everyday, this why the narrator doesn’t have to explain the inexplicable. It’s the particular manifestation of the Latin American people. He tells stories without moral or conventional criticism, he chose to employ a serious tone to present unbelievable ideas seems real. Its difficult to find where the reality ends and the fantasy appears. The power of his imagination came from his vast knowledge of Latin American, Marquez doesn’t need names, places and stories from other cultures like Borges, he has enough information from his family, friends, and neighbors to write a fantastic history. Regarding this aspect is Garcia Marquez who says: “Speaking for myself, I only became aware of it a few years ago, even though my experience as a writer and my frequent contact with different societies and political systems have increased my understanding or other aspects of Latin American culture”.
Besides of his personal experience, the cultural enrichment in Marquez literary production has a combination of traditions, legends from Indian culture, myths and legends from Spanish conquerors and the political situation in Latin America. Garcia Marquez strongly shows his political position in favor of the oppressed poor people and against the foreign economic exploitation. To condense all his “Magical Realism” Garcia Marquez has created his own place, his own microcosms called “Macondo” Since the end of 1940 his short stories are taking place in a particular town of Macondo, this “magic town” is supposed to be a Garcia Marquez childhood town, Aracataca, located near the north cost of Colombia, few km from Santa Marta. The name Macondo was the name of a banana plantation and means “banana” in the Bantu language, the language spoken by afrocariben people who came to Colombia as slaves by Spanish colonialist to work in a “New World” In Macondo everything could happen; flowers rain from the sky, the “Mama Grande” could be the owner of the national and international water, the sky, the national treasure and also the virginity of the young women, the innocence girl could fly because she was virgin, a baby could born with a pig tale as a consequence of original sin, but accordingly with Marquez it is a world very much like our own. Marquez also suggest that cultures and countries differ in what they call realism, because it is a cultural issue, it is no coincidence that magical realism has more influence in countries like Colombia.
An example of culture we can see it in the short story "The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World" starts with the children playing on the beach with the waterlogged body of a dead man and ends with the town changing the appearance of their doors and buildings to honor this dead man they never knew. This dead stranger, who "has the face of someone called Esteban," according to the oldest woman in the town, is treated to a cleaning by all the women in this town. They notice the vegetation and dirt they are rubbing off of him is from "faraway oceans and deep water". He is not one of them. This adds to his mysterious, exotic nature. They clean him up and stitch him a set of clothes. Then, they sit around him, fascinated by his huge size and his beauty". Oftentimes in our culture, celebrities live lives completely removed from ours, yet people sit around fascinated by them. They endlessly discuss their beauty, their clothing, and what they do with their time. And here, we have this same thing happening. This handsome drowned man who lived his entire life completely removed from this tiny village is suddenly now almost being worshipped by the villagers. They imagine him having the best house and the "happiest woman" for his wife. They imagine that "he would have had so much authority that he could have drawn fish out the sea simply by calling their names". This larger than life, skewed view of this man is similar to our culture's view of celebrities.
Finally, in our culture's obsession with beauty and glamour, it is often tempting to compare our significant others with the Brad Pitts or Angelina Jolies of the day. In the same way, the women in this tiny little village look upon Esteban and "secretly (compare) him to their own men, thinking that for all their lives (their own men) were incapable of doing what (Esteban) could do in one night". They make assumptions based on Esteban's looks and begin to fantasize about his accomplishments. This causes a great deal of discontent with the men in their own lives, the men who have most likely loved them and provided for them. Now, a handsome (but still very much dead) man shows up on their beach, and the women decide he beats their husbands and brothers hands down. They become enamored with his looks and the strength he most likely possessed and seem to be willing to trade away the men in their lives now. They see him as "the most peaceful and most obliging man on earth," when in all reality, he was just a man. He had his own faults and shortcomings, but none of the women in the village seem to comprehend this. They see him as perfect. This is a sad comment on celebrity culture this idea that there is that ideal of perfection in another human being. All faults are glossed over, and only Esteban's exotic, mysterious, fade of perfection is left for the villagers to mourn.