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About Me:18-year-old sixth form student, studying English Literature, History and Government and Politics. My articles will broadly cover topics from the current affairs of politics to reviews of books and albums, as well as adding my own creative pieces, whether it be short fiction or general opinion.
‘It was inevitable: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of the fate of unrequited love.’
Such is the captivating start of one of Gabriel García Marquez’s most brilliant novels. For those unfamiliar with Marquez’s work, or of the man himself: he was a 20th century Colombian writer who is largely seen as the founder and pioneer of the literary genre known as magic realism. This type of writing, as the name would suggest, weaves the magical and fantastical into a realistic narrative with the end result being deeply evocative scenes. Paradoxically, it has been said that Gabriel García Marquez’s use of magic realism is one of the most pertinent portrayals of South American life ever written. The apex of this genre is Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude.
However, despite a few flashes, Love in the Time of Cholera is rather devoid of such magic realism. The novel follows – or, more accurately, undulates between – the lives of Dr. Juvenal Urbino, his wife Fermina Daza, and her life-long admirer, Florentino Ariza. Juvenal Arbino is a man at the peak of society, admired by many and able to use his name for his advantage. His wife, Fermina Daza, and Florentino Ariza were childhood lovers until one day, suddenly, she decides that she does not love him, and he tries his whole life to change her mind. But, despite what the opening sentence may lure us to believe, this is not a novel entirely about unrequited love. On the contrary, Love in the Time of Cholera is a novel about love itself, in all of its innumerable forms.
Dr. Juvenal Urbino and Fermina Daza’s marriage plays out as something akin to that of Wuthering Heights – one grounded on the foundation of stability rather than passion. Indeed, even on the night of the consummation of their marriage Dr. Juvenal Urbino admits to himself how he doesn’t love his newly wedded wife. But Gabriel García Marquez takes great pains to convey how this in itself is not something to be mad at, as Bronte does, but that it also carries an inherent value. Likewise, Florentino Ariza is not the doctor’s rival, as he first believes, but instead comes to respect him, and realises their mutuality in their love (or at least as he supposes) for Fermina Daza.
Whilst this stable marriage is going on, Florentino Ariza, whilst still fully committed to his childhood lover, engages in different kinds of love: transient, hedonistic, fulfilling, convenient, functional, questionable. The beauty of the novel is that Marquez treats each love as essential, and whilst we are constantly reminded of Florentino’s undying love for Fermina, those who he loves along the way play just as an important role.
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