Gabriel Garcia Marquez died yesterday, at 87. As he would have said, time puts things in their place.
This is no eulogy to him- I am too small to be eulogizing him. Small in the literary sense of his intimidating grandeur. I shall forever remain a parasite who will feed on his works, pretending to derive inspiration from them, while hardly relishing them to the fullest- never being able to savour each word and every utterance in his works.
Many who have read Marquez will concur to my claim that it was not simply the story that stands out, but like any other artistic genius, it was his style. You could hand out a passage from his work and it wouldn’t be hard to notice the style that remains true to him. As with the case of modern writers who have their own style that is hard to miss. Of the likes of Saramago and Orhan Pamuk, if not greater than them, Marquez is easily as good as them.
I discovered Marquez quite late in my life. I am a late blossomed reader for that matter. When I heard a friend talk about Gabriel Garcia Marquez in the line of many authors he was quoting to me, of course I missed his long name too- it never registered in my head.
In India, we have plenty of book stores where one can shop used books. The aroma of those stained pages and the warmth of racks and racks of books is few of the spiritual experiences to me. So, in one such store, I had my rendezvous with a book that caught my attention simply for its title ‘The General in his labyrinth’. The author’s stature or his profile still did not impress upon me. Read the gist and sounded like an good historical piece to me- to me it was then a book about the fall and decline of Simon Bolivar. Seemed interesting. And most importantly I love the word ‘labyrinth’, it has a sound to it, clearly representative of its meaning.
I started the book almost immediately and I was getting nowhere. It was the hardest book I had read till then. Not because the language was sophisticated, or the plot was contrived. That which I found obscure was the essence of Marquez’s writing. I took a long time to complete the relatively thin book. But by the end of it, I wanted more of Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
By then I had also realized who the author was, in the context of the role he had played in the world of words.
Even today, while I have read most of his popular works, ‘The General in his labyrinth’ remains my personal favorite. As you would realize, because of the intimate experience I have had with that work.
The eternal genius of Pablo Neruda, Jose Saramago and Gabriel Garcia Marquez have been the unstoppable force that has made the world take notice and give heed to the non-English literary scene.
With Marquez’s demise, although none of them live on in our world, we can forever live in their worlds.