Gabriel García Márquez Biography


He noted signs on the way advising that dogs and Mexicans were prohibited; he thus found himself barred from hotels because of his dark Latin complexion, the bigoted clerks mistaking him for a Mexican. Upon being served a "filet mignon with a peach and syrup on top of it" in New Orleans, he fled to Mexico City without further delay.

In Mexico City ("with only a hundred dollars in my pockets"), he began slowly, and with great difficulty, a new career as a screen writer. He wrote film scripts, some in collaboration with Mexican novelist Carlos Fuentes; several of these scripts became movies. One of his stories, "There are No Thieves in This Town," was filmed by an experimental group for presentation at the 1965 Locarno Film Festival. At other times he worked as an editor and once did publicity for the J. Walter Thompson office in Mexico City. During this period — almost six years — he wrote only one short story. "It was a very bad time for me," he has confessed, "a suffocating time. Nothing I did in films was mine. It was a collaboration, incorporating everybody's ideas, the director's, the actor's. I was very limited in what I could do and I appreciated then that in the novel the writer has complete control." Meanwhile, his friends had arranged for his two recent books to be published. In 1961, The Evil Hour (La Mala Hora), which had been completed in Mexico but initially published in Spain, had been published, but only after he had won a Colombian literary prize. The original title of the novel had been Este Pueblo de Mérida (The Town of Dung). The title was changed at the suggestion of the author's friends but not without some objection from García Márquez.

García Márquez had now written four books of literary merit: the novels Leaf Storm (1955) and The Evil Hour (1961); a novella entitled No One Writes to the Colonel (1961); and a short story collection, Big Mama's Funeral (1962). In January of 1965, while driving from Mexico City to Acapulco, he began plans for 100 Hundred Years of Solitude. Though promising enough, all his previous works can be seen as but preliminary exercises to this masterpiece. He later told an Argentinean writer that he could have dictated an entire chapter on the spot if he had had a tape recorder. He went home and told his wife: "Don't bother me, especially don't bother me about money." And he began writing the work, which he says he had been brooding over since he was sixteen. His desk was called the "Cave of the Mafia"; there, he worked for eight to ten hours a day for eighteen months. When he had finished the novel, his wife informed him that they owed twelve thousand dollars. She had sustained them by borrowing from friends, paying for groceries on monthly installments, and not paying any rent to the landlord for six months. García Márquez says that he again began writing, "straight off without a break, and afterwards made a great many corrections on the manuscript, made copies, and corrected it again." Now, however, he corrects line by line as he works. He dates his interest in writing to an impulse to draw comics as a child.

García Márquez sent the first three chapters of 100 Hundred Years of Solitude to Carlos Fuentes, who along with the Argentinean writer Julio Cortázar was an early fan and supporter. Fuentes was so impressed that he wrote to a Mexican magazine: "I have just finished reading the first seventy-five pages of Cien Años de Soledad. They are absolutely magisterial." 100 Hundred Years of Solitude was published initially in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1967 by Editorial Sudamericana. It was translated into English by Gregory Rabassa, a winner of the National Book Award for his translation of Julio Cortázar's Hopscotch. In 1970, 100 Hundred Years of Solitude was published in English by Harper & Row. It drew universal critical acclaim and won the Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger in France in 1969; that same year it also won Italy's coveted literary award, the Premio Chianciano. In 1970, the novel was chosen as one of the twelve best books of the year by many American critics; in 1972, García Márquez won the Rómulo Gallegos Prize in Venezuela and the Books Abroad/Neustadt International Prize for Literature. Finally, he was awarded the 1982 Nobel Prize in Literature. In his Nobel lecture in Stockholm, he declared: "This, my friends, is the very scale of our solitude . . . in spite of this, to oppression, plundering and abandonment, we respond with life. Neither floods nor plagues, nor famines nor cataclysms, nor even the eternal wars of century upon century have been able to subdue the persistent advantage of life over death. . . . On a day like today, my master William Faulkner said 'I decline to accept the end of man.' I would feel unworthy of standing in this place that was his if I were not fully aware that the colossal tragedy he refused to recognize thirty-two years ago is now, for the first time since the beginning of humanity, nothing more than a simple scientific possibility. Faced with this awesome reality that must have seemed a mere utopia through all of human time, we, the inventors of tales, who will believe anything, feel entitled to believe that it is not yet too late to engage in the creation of the opposite utopia."

García Márquez died on April 17, 2014, at home in Mexico City following complications from pneumonia; he was 87.

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