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Thursday, August 16, 2007

MAGICAL REALISM

The painting was just a wild mix of a hungry man, a lone hand, and a mule like animal. And it adorned the cabin of one of the most important persons in my workplace. Whenever I walked through that cabin, I used to wonder about the pricelessness of such paintings. One fine day, when I was standing at a place which was at an angle to this painting, I was so glad to realize that this painting had been replaced with something that looked more elegant. This is the normal trend. These rare masterpieces normally keep on rotating within the various offices, cabins and staircase walls.

In this new painting, I could see the bearded face of a man laughing, a pair of sad mystique eyes of a woman and a bath-tub. I came close trying to discover something more about the new painting. But only when I reached the cabin, I realized that it was the same painting depicting the hungry man, the lone hand and the mule. From there on, it didn’t take me much time to realize the reason behind the value of this piece. Lately, I have discovered so many things out of this painting…so many things which my eyes could not discover earlier.

I lived through a similar experience through my association with the experience of reading this book “One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I did not even enjoy the first hundred pages of this book and felt like cursing PG, on whose recommendation, I had collected this from the basement library. By the time I had completed the first half, there was a mild excitement creeping into the theme. I read the complete book without enjoying it much. I took the book as a satirical and ironical approach depicting the solitude of each of the Aurelianos, Jose Arcadios and Amarantas who once inhabited the village of Macondo.

The real excitement started when I read some reviews of this book. I was amazed at the fact that what I had interpreted out of the book was perhaps the simplest anyone could have. After reading some of these reviews, I could link every situation of the book with something very serious and intense. The metaphorical approach extended deep into the heart of the book and even seemingly comical expressions appeared quite significant.

This story of a family through six generations which starts and ends in a village-town is good enough to present the reader with extreme political and economic connotations. Growth of nationality, the origin of communism, colonialism, the right and the left political wings, the notion of creativity and progress….and many more such stuff can be discovered within the outer fa├žade.

The fantasies which were too unreal for me (like direct ascension to heaven, talking with spirits, human born with a tail of a pig, and the numerous magical themes associated with the gypsies) looked quite appealing in their secondary meaning. The cyclical nature of time along with the theme of eternity is magnificently presented.

And now when I tried to decipher the inner depths of the novel, I could perceive it with a new found clarity. The solitude which the characters lived with, the solitude with which Macondo was born and the solitude with which it died….and all these under the context of a changing political face in Latin America, is an amazing saga presented in a style which the literal circles like to call “magical realism” (the literary counterpart of surrealism).

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