Gabriel Garcia Marquez was born in Columbia in 1928 and the above entitled book was originally published in Argentina in 1967. The following quotations are from the Harper & Row, N.Y., 1998 edition. The book tells the long and complex history of the Buendia family. The founding member of the family is Jose Arcadio Buendia who married Ursula Iguaran. As he grows older he eventually grows crazy, probably Alzheimer’s, and spends the final years of his life tied to a tree in the courtyard of the family home. His wife is the strength of the family, building a business, rescuing members of the family, and living to around 115 or 122 years of age.
This is a family history that provides few if any laudable role models. Jose and Ursula have three children. Colonel Aureliano Buendia becomes a famous revolutionary leader. Because women like to have their daughters have children by someone with strong genes, he becomes the father of at least 17 male children by 17 women. Because he is feared, all 17 are assassinated and he dies after a long life during which he survives after many attempts on his life and even after he shoots himself in the “heart”---the doctor who told his where the heart was located so that he would succeed in his attempt to kill himself deliberately misled him. Jose and Ursula’s second son runs off with gypsies and after many years returns home, marries his “sister” and is mysteriously shot while in his own home. However, before this happens, he has a son Arcadio by Pilar Ternera. Ursula’s third child, Amaranta, dies an elderly virgin after tormenting some suitors, one of whom despairs to the point of committing suicide.
In addition to the 17 assassinated bastards by his wife, who never bears him a child as she dies young, the Colonel also has a son, Aureliano Jose by a local prostitute, Pilar Ternera, yes, the same woman that had a child by the other brother noted above. This son is raised by his Aunt Amaranta with whom he has an incestuous relationship before he is shot down in the streets by the military while doing nothing wrong. Aureliano Jose has no children.
Arcadio marries Santa Sofia de la Piedad and has three children before he is killed by a firing squad: Remedios the Beauty, who is so pure and unconcerned about the petty things of life that one day she simply levitates into heaven; and Aureliano Segundo and Jose Arcandio Segundo who are twins. The twins are so identical as children they sometimes switch identities. But as they grow older they are very different and then later in life they become the same again.
Aureliano Segundo marries Fernanda del Carpio, but he spends most of his time with his mistress.
Fernanda gives birth to three children:
By the way, remember the twins noted above? Aureliano Segundo, Fernanda’s mostly absent husband living with the mistress, is very very lucky in raising animals because his mistress has somewhat magical powers and he lives a wild profligate life. His twin Jose Segundo goes from being a foreman for the local banana company to leading a strike against them. The twins die at about the same time.
As is fairly evident from the above, this sounds like a cheap soap opera script. So why would anyone want to read it and why did it help Marquez win the world’s # 1 prize for literature, the Nobel Prize? Glad you asked. It is because this crazy mixed up family comes leaping off the pages, because the story is told wonderfully, because it is filled with important lessons about life that are worth remembering.
Although the novel can be seen to have many meanings, some of the more important ones are:
“Blending the everyday and the miraculous, the historical and the fabulous, psychological realism and surreal flights of fancy, One Hundred Years of Solitude has influenced nearly every important novelist around the word” (p. 458).
The only way you can appreciate the power and beauty of the book is to slowly and thoughtfully read it for yourself.
So what does this all have to do with interviewing skills? In order to be a skilled and effective interviewer, you have to deeply understand human nature. That is why you take courses like HBSE I & II. But those courses are only a small part of the foundation of knowledge---you have to build upon that foundation. Great literature, like One Hundred Years of Solitude, helps you in this building effort.