Friday, April 18, 2014


From left to ring: Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Colombia), Octavio Paz (Mexico) and Mario Vargas Losa (Peru)

As far as I know, there are two Latin American books in which the word solitude appears in the title : 'One Hundred Years of Solitude' by the recently deceased Colombian writer and journalist Gabriel Garcia Marquez (1927 -2014) and 'The Labyrinth of Solitude ' by the Mexican poet and essayist Octavio Paz ( 1914-1998 ) . 'The Labyrinth of Solitude' was published in 1950 . 'Hundred Years of Solitude' in 1967. The two writers belong nearly to two different generations. Both authors have received the Nobel Prize in literature : Gabriel Marquez in 1982 , Octavio Paz in 1990.

Marquez is with his fantastic stories and bright , journalistic style for many more readers accessible than Paz with his poems and essays on art and Mexico . Both had more than average interest in politics . Paz was even once an ambassador of his country, but resigned in 1968, an international year of student uprisings, after the massacre of protesting students on Tlatelolco Plaza in Mexico City . That was a year after 'Hundred Years of Solitude' was published . Ten days after the massacre the Olympic Games were held in Mexico. Already then, the price for peaceful Olympics was charged with oppression and even blood . That should be food for thought of the athletes and the Olympic Comitee.

In the search for their political, social and economic model Latin America has had many famous revolutionaries; Here we see two famous Mexican revolutionaries . Left Emiliano Zapata from the south of Mexico and Pancho Villa from the north, both with their wives. Photograph taken by the Mexican photographer Casasolas. The Mexican Revolution was between 1910-1919.

Marquez later used his friendship with Fidel Castro, dating from the time he lived in Cuba to report about the Revolution (1959 ), to get free Cuban political prisoners . Despite Cuba became a communist dictatorship under Fidel Castro , Marquez did not distance himself from Castro. You see that more often with intellectuals in Latin America. They choose not unconditionally for democracy and human rights but remain floating between the romance of the Revolution and their anti - Americanism .

Paz is cleare at this point. He chose unreservedly for democracy the same as did later the Peruvian writer Vargas Llosa, also winner of the Nobel Prize for literature (2010 ) . Vargas Llosa was overloaded for this attitude with scorn by leftist Latin Americans, which was reinforced when he became a candidate for the presidency of his country. That's sad because Vargas Llosa is as good a teller of fantastic tales as Marquez . Paz, Marquez and Vargas Llosa with their books have given a face and an identity to Latin American. Through them, Latin America is no longer a derivative of the former European colonists and/or the U.S.

Old coloured studio photo of a Mexican indigena.
The indigenas were the original inhabitants of Latin America.

I believe that the word solitude in their two most famous books exactly means this : we Mexicans, we Colombians, we Latin Americans will have to do it all on our own. There is no one else who can help us to become ourselves, to live and to survive. We ourselves will have to reinvent the wheel : political, social and economic. In the book 'One Hundred Years of Solitude' , we read that the progenitor of the Buendia 's discovered that the world is round . It 's like the invention of the ice a metaphor for the discovery of their own nation, their own culture and identity . The family epic about a hundred years of solitude is the story of the discovery of one's own world: the laws of the world, the suffering of revolutions , the meaning of politics, the reality of treason and the uncertainty of the future.

About this Paz is more clearly at the beginning of his 'The Labyrinth of Solitude' despite his poetic language or perhaps precisely because of . His metaphor is poetic, that of the young person who discovers himself and the world: " the discovery of ourselves manifests itself in the realization that we are alone, between the world and ourselves appears an elusive, transparent wall; our consciousness . Certainly, if we are just born we feel as alone ; but children and adults can overcome their loneliness and forget themselves by play or work . But the young people, suspended between childhood and youth , remains for a moment amazed about the infinite riches of the world. The younger is amazed about his existence. After the surprise follows the reflection: bent over the river of his consciousness, he wonders whether this face that appears slowly on the bottom, deformed by the water, is his face. The uniqueness of being - pure sensation for children - turns into a problem and a question, in asking to our consciousness. With nations that are captivated by developing happens about the same. Their existence is manifested as a question: who are we and how we become who we are "? ( Octavio Paz, El laberinto de la soledad ' , 1959 Fondo de Cultura Economica , p.9 )  

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