Book Reviews

Book Review – One Hundred years of solitude


I started to read this masterpiece by Gabriel Garcia Marquez a couple of years back and never went past the first 20 pages for some strange reason. I picked it up again at Laos and this time completed reading it. I underlined so many things that my notes alone would probably run into several pages !

This book is not so much about solitude as it is about history repeating itself in families, in towns, in countries and in the world at large. Its also about how we don’t learn from history and George Santayana calls it right – “those who do not learn from history, are doomed to repeat it”.

Fascinating to see the family of Jose Arcadio Buendia and Ursula go through a roller coaster  so similar to the large families in India. The several children, grandchildren named Arcadio, Aureliano and how their histories went through a similar pattern… and the almost immortal gypsy-scientist Melquiades whose language was Sanskrit and the fortune-teller-cum-town-prostitute Pilar Ternara, the importance of books, the new inventions, the wars and the quintessential cheating by a banana company, the strange love-hate relationship between Rebeca and Amaranta, the illness of insomnia that gripped the entire town of Macondo, the arrival of the train, the plane etc … all make this a very fascinating book to read. Its a long read but completely worth it.

Some of the interesting statements that I underlined are as follows –

“The world was so recent that many things lacked names, and in order to indicate them it was necessary to point.”

“Science has eliminated distance”. … well, it truly has !!

“Colonel Aureliano Beundia could understand only that the secret of a good old age is simply an honourable pact with solitude.”

“Tell him,” the colonel said, smiling, “that a person doesn’t die when he should but when he can.”

Two interesting words –

Daguerrotype – a photograph taken by an early photographic process; Proboscidian – an order of large mammals that comprises the elephants and their extinct relative;

I will probably re-read it again in a couple of years because there are several more things that I would discover. Its that kind of book. One Hundred Years of Solitude is much recommended and I would say a must read, for we must not let history repeat itself. 🙂

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