Give me books, fruit, french wine and fine weather and a little music out of doors. --John Keats

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

"Love in the Time of Cholera" by Gabriel García Márquez

Human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves.

That quote could apply quite well to Florentino Ariza's love for Fermina Daza, which he keeps alive through constant rebirth for over half a century. Too bad I didn't like Fermina, and I sure didn't care for Florentino. I didn't even enjoy their love story after its first few years. I ended up rather unimpressed by Florentino's persistence and pseudo-fidelity. But there must be some sort of synergy at work, because it's still a really good book.

One major advantage the book has is its writing, which is absolutely beautiful (and I must give kudos to translator Edith Grossman, who did a brilliant job). García Márquez's lush descriptions are incredibly vivid and expressive, and his characters--though often possessing an almost Dickensian grotesqueness--are somehow also intensely lifelike. This book is meant to be savored, based on the writing alone.

Judging by the book's title, I was sure both love and cholera would play a big role in the story, but cholera is only mentioned around the periphery. It's really all about love. It could have been called Love is a Disease like Cholera, though. García Márquez examines a remarkable array of love relationships with an odd sort of realism and honesty, never idealizing any romance for very long.

The story was not quite what I expected (as I expected the chronicle of a heroic and tragic love story that spans decades . . . well, I got the "spans decades" part right, anyway) but what I discovered instead is  well able to stand on its own merit.

4 comments:

Becky (Page Turners) said...

Despite finding Florentino bordering on a stalker at some points in time, I LOVED this story. I think I love all of his books, all that I have read anyway.

I admit to being a hopeless romantic, but I did find this book soooo romantic. They loved as young people, they moved on (she did anyway) and then whilst in the older stages of their life, they quietly fall back in love. Awwwwwwwww

petekarnas said...

I read this and, while I though the language was beautiful, I felt almost disgusted at Florentino. I know that it's supposed to me romantic and all, this lifelong obsession, but it just becomes pathetic at some point. I may be cynical, but I just didn't find it believable in any way.

anothercookiecrumbles said...

I love Marquez - try reading one of his books every year. I read this one aaaages ago (about ten years ago), and I think it's due a re-read, as I can't really remember it.

Glad to see you enjoyed it though - his works are amazing!!

Kathy said...

Becky--I think I liked the *idea* of their love story more than the actual details. But the way you put it makes it sound lovely!

Pete--I'm with you on Florentino. I couldn't help but wonder if my (our) negative opinion of him was what the author intended.

Cookie--his writing is beautiful, isn't it! Which one do you suggest I try next? (It will probably be 100 yrs of solitude, as that one's on my list already.)