The Great Man Has Crossed the River

Shortly after his 87th birthday, Gabo crossed the great river. We remember him and we miss him.

Listen to this short documentary about his beginning. He speaks in Spanish but the narrative is in English. The transcript is below:

Present Continuous Tense

Columbia. March the sixth. 1927. The rain is ashing down over the banana plantations around the little village of Aracataca in the Caribbean.

Is the rain “ashing down” or “crashing down”?

Gabriel Garcia Marquez was born beneath the sign of the tropics and the Atlantic Ocean. In 1982 the Nobel Prize committee paid tribute to the author of a worldwide masterpiece:

One Hundred years of Solitude

Macondo was a village of twenty adobe houses built on the bank of a river of clear water that ran along a bed of polished stones, which were white and enormous like prehistoric eggs.

The world was so recent that many things lacked names and in order to indicate them it was necessary to point to them.

Past Tense with “would” plus verb for Past Routines

Every year during the month of March a family of ragged gypsies would set up their tents near the village, and with a great uproar of pipes and kettle drums they would display new inventions.

Relative Clause

This obstinate storyteller who will make any sacrifice so long as he can write created in “One Hundred Years of Solitude” a new vision of the world: Macondo a small Caribbean village is at the same time a whole continent.

But what was exactly the origin of the world?

A dreamlike but true to life novel, an un-frightening ghost story, enough to make a sorcerer out of a child.

The story begins with a grandfather: Nicholas Marquez, the colonel.
At the turn of the century this well-bred young man went off to the 1000 days civil war which was ravaging the country.

Past Simple Tense

The colonel had a very close friend: A brother in arms called Pacheko. They fought side by side and together lost the battles which were led by legendary generals.

Columbia was born in an orgy of fratricidal bloodletting.

One day in October 1908, Nicholas the Colonel and Pacheko fought a duel. It was a question of honour.

Passive Voice

The colonel killed Pacheko and it felt as if he had killed himself. He was overwhelmed with grief.

He left his hometown for a small and remote village far away beyond the Sierra Nevada.

Twenty years went by.The colonel had a daughter. She was deeply in love with Eligio the telegraph boy in the village.

But the colonel was firmly against her marrying beneath her station. The lovers swore to each other they would rather die than be separated.

They invented a thousand ploys to thwart the colonel and his wife Tranquilina.
The lovers eventually got married.

Louisa called her first born son “Gabriel”. As if she wanted to atone for the affront to her father she trusted him with her son.

Until he was eight years old Gabriel Garcia Marquez lived with his grandparents in Aracataca, cherished by Tranquilina the Galician and the Colonel.

Link to the History and Geography Page

They would both tell him about their own vision of the world.

Ornate Literary Style

When it was opened by the giant, the chest gave up a glacial exhalation. Inside there was only an enormous transparent block with infinite internal needles in which the light of the sunset was broken up into coloured stars.

Disconcerted, knowing the children were waiting for an immediate explanation, Jose Arcadio Buendia ventured a murmur.

“It is the largest diamond in the world.”

“No,” the gypsy countered. “It is ice.”

The child was torn away from the magic world of Aracataca, but he buried the faces the trees the smells and the stories deep in his memory. Garcia Marquez did not yet know that his nostalgia for this world would be the well-spring of his writing.

Past Perfect Tense

Many years would go by before he came back to Aracataca where in a dazzling and decisive instant he recovered the keys to a world he had believed forever lost.