100 Years of Solitude

I can pretty confidently say this is one of the most meaningful books I’ve read in my life, while at the same time being one of the meaningless books I’ve ever read. 100 Years of Solitude tracks the story of the Buendia family over 7 generations, and gives an intricate description of the hardships, love, pain, and intense emotion felt throughout the lives of these fifteen-odd individuals. It’s likely the first “experimental fiction” story that I’ve ever read, but the universe that’s constructed within is expansive and brilliant.

There’s all these emotions that wash over you while reading the story; something about tracking the birth, life, and death of individuals carries a certain nostalgic feeling that’s impossible to describe. The personas that Gabriel Garcia Marquez constructs feel quite like flesh-and-blood people that I might know today, save for the fanatical incest that they seem to continue getting involved into. However, the long stretches of time also imbue a sense of meaninglessness that living inherently contains. In particular, the ending that washes away Macondo into the depths of the sea really portrays this idea that perhaps the lives of the Buendia family simply didn’t matter in the long run.

And, moreover, why do we track the story of the particular family? It’s simple to see that the town of Macondo is almost perhaps an extension of the Buendia family, with their generations populating the area and being the sole cause of its creation. I like to think about the symbolic meaning about books when I read them, but the dense nature of the long periods shown in this particular story are perhaps too strong for me to decode. I don’t really understand why we track the story of the Buendias, or why they continue coming back to Macondo, or why they’re continually involved in incest, or keep making the same mistakes throughout generations. It’s certainly a recurring motif of the “hive-mind” nature of human generations, destined to continue making the mistakes of their forebears.

Perhaps I’m not quite mature enough to really understand the full impact of the book and its true meaning, or perhaps the book doesn’t have any inherent meaning after all but is simply awash with the emotions of human plight. Regardless, I really enjoyed this one and I think I’ll have to read it again in a few years.


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