One Hundred Years of Solitude

One Hundred Years of Solitude Study Guide

Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Gabriel García Márquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.

Brief Biography of Gabriel García Márquez

García Márquez was raised by his maternal grandparents for the first ten years of his life in Aracataca, eventually moving to Sucré to live with his father, a pharmacist. García Márquez’s grandfather was a great storyteller, and this combined with his grandfather’s progressive politics were two of García Márquez’s greatest influences. García Márquez’s was sent away to school in Baranquilla, where he began writing humorous poems and comic strips, though he was seen as a serious young man. He moved to Bogotá while completing his secondary studies and stayed on there for college to study law, though he still prioritized his writing. After an uprising, García Márquez moved to Cartagena to finish his degree and work as a reporter for the newspaper there. García Márquez never finished his higher studies, instead growing his career as a journalist, working in Cartagena, Barranquilla, Bogotá, and Caracas, Venezuela. García Márquez met his wife, Mercedes Barcha, while she was in school, and they decided to wait for her to finish while he traveled as a foreign correspondent. In 1958 they married and the following year, their first son Rodrifo García was born. The family traveled by Greyhound bus through the Southern United States and then settled n Mexico City, before their second son, Gonzalo was born. He published his first novella, Leaf Storm, n 1955 and then One Hundred Years of Solitude in 1967. After the publication, García Márquez moved his family to Barcelona, Spain, for seven years, and his recognition earned him the ability to help as a facilitator in negotiations between the Colombian government and guerillas there. His outspoken opinion on U.S. Imperialism prevented him from acquiring a visa by the U.S., a ban that was not lifted until Bill Clinton took office. García Márquez continued to publish creative work, including his second most well known Love in the Time of Cholera in 1985, two memoirs, and several screenplays. In 1999 he was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer, but treatment proved successful and the cancer went into remission. In 2012, his brother announced that García Márquez was suffering from dementia, and in April 2014, he was hospitalized in Mexico due to several infections, but he died later that month of pneumonia.
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Historical Context of One Hundred Years of Solitude

One Hundred Years of Solitude can be read as an allegory of Colombian history, representing the nation’s historical events and mythology through the Buendía family. Colombia’s long history of social stratification and wealth disparity—vestiges of colonial rule—are depicted in the differences between the simple life that the people of Macondo live and the struggle by interlopers like Fernanda to assimilate to village life. The war that is fought throughout the book is a reference to La Violencia, the civil war between the Colombian Liberal and Conservative parties, estimated to have cost the lives of some 200,000 people. The fighting took part largely in rural areas, with political leaders and police encouraging impoverished supporters of the Conservative Party to seize land from peasant Liberals. Censorship and reprisals against press reports were common at the time, as in the book when José Arcadio Segundo tries to spread the word about the massacre that takes place while the workers at the intrusive American banana plantation are striking. The people of Macondo prefer to believe the official report, which suppressed the total number dead, rather than believing the firsthand account of a radical. Though the timeline is condensed and the events reimagined in the context of the fictional town of Macondo, most major happenings have a real-life basis.

Other Books Related to One Hundred Years of Solitude

Gabriel García Márquez is known as one of four Latin American novelists most well known for the rise of Latin American literature in the 60s and 70s. The other writers were Peruvian Mario Vargos Llosa, Argentine Julio Cortázar and Mexican Carlos Fuentes. Among these writers, García Márquez is known as the representation of magical realism. Stylistically, the book was influenced by both Modernism (García Márquez was a fan of Woolf and Faulkner) and the Cuban Vanguardia movement which embraced both surrealism and the heritage of their island, becoming increasingly political in their ideology.
Key Facts about One Hundred Years of Solitude
  • Full Title: One Hundred Years of Solitude
  • When Written: 1955-1967
  • Where Written: Mexico City
  • When Published: 1967
  • Literary Period: Latin American Boom
  • Genre: Magic Realism
  • Setting: Macondo, Colombia
  • Climax: Aureliano is born with the tail of a pig, as feared and predicted by generations of the Buendía family. Aureliano finally deciphers the manuscript left by Melquíades, a hundred years  before to be the story of his family, and a hurricane destroyed Macondo.
  • Antagonist: Solitude and Time
  • Point of View: Third person omniscient

Extra Credit for One Hundred Years of Solitude

Romantic Inspiration. Márquez’s father had to work very hard to woo his mother. He was Conservative and had a reputation as a womanizer, and Márquez’s mother’s parents tried everything to get rid of the young man, but eventually they gave in, convinced by his dedication to their daughter. The story of their courtship is the inspiration for one of Márquez’s other books, Love in the Time of Cholera, but echoes of family disapproval and infatuation can also be found in One Hundred Years of Solitude.

Real Magic. Gabriel García Márquez’s grandmother influenced him with the way she treated the extraordinary as expected. She told him stories of ghosts and omens as though they were fact. Márquez incorporated this deadpan style of magical storytelling in his writing.