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Se and fall is told in flashbacks within the frame story of his last river journey which he undertook when he renounced power after an assassination attempt to highlight major events that shaped him to become the man we have come to now An able soldier and a great military strategist always in a state of flux he could enact whole battlefields on his mind s screen with all the moves and strategies to be employed for various contingencies is now relegated to his sagging hammock in which lying at night like a deadweight he mumbles incomprehensible twaddle in the state of recurrent delirium such that his faithful servant Jos Palacios cannot tell whether his master s thoughts are trapped in the throes of a nightmare or entangled in the state of waking He was shaken by the overwhelming revelation that the headlong race between his misfortunes and his dreams was at that moment reaching the finish line The rest was darkness Damn it he sighed How will I ever get out of this labyrinth He is stricken but not defeated Life had already given him sufficient reasons for Student Research Projects in Calculus knowing that no defeat was the final one He cooks up imaginary battles to wrest Riohacha from the insurgents who are destroying the unity of the continent but suddenly finding his army on the defensive crashes into his chair One day he announces his immediate intention to pack up and set sail for Europe to die there yet the next morning he takes baffling detours and lingers on for weeks in a place waiting for some portent to tell him which way to go In a Maruezian slant the rigours of madness become a saving virtue it is precisely his illusions which areeeping him sane But he could not renounce his infinite capacity for illusion at the very moment he needed it most he saw fireflies where there were none During the last months of his life he became an ungainly mass of calcified bones and poisoned flesh held together by the pale leather of his cracking skin whose purpose of mind no one understood whose purpose of mind he himself did not understandMaruez evokes the starkly beautiful terrain of the ian wild tropics with imagery that permeates the ancient landscape of his One Hundred Years of Solitude It seems the General must have stopped at Macondo on his voyage along the Magdalena Maruez does not mention the town perhaps because it s fictional or does not fall along the coast and this story is supposed to be an historically accurate depiction which it is save for some auxiliary details which are used to enhance Bol var s character and to embolden his human dilemmas enacted for the reader through the eyes of a man to whom the world had appeared a miasmic swamp of dead bodies and dead hopes In that Maruez has weaved an astounding horror storyTrue to the maxim that there is humour in human tragedy Maruez embellishes this sad story with the strokes of a tragicomedy in the General s fatalistic and self loathing utterances that confound and dishearten his loving supporters but the General cares naught I will illustrate it with two small examplesA German adventurer came down to the continent to capture an oddity he d heard described a man with rooster claws to put in a cage and display in European circuses He told of his wish to the General when they met during the voyage along the river The General had found another opportunity to direct his mordant sarcasm at himself I assure you you ll earn money showing me in a cage as the biggest damn fool in history On the General s orders his orderlies had taken on board an emaciated and limping dog found along the banks suffering from a horrible case of mange The General bestowed special affections on the awful looking creature fed him by his own hand played with him and spent time with him than he would with his young lover After a few days on board The General was taking the air in the stern when Jos Palacios pulled the dog over to
Him What Name Shall We Give Him What name shall we give him askedThe General did not even have to think about it Bol var he said June 2015 Follows the last few Weeks And Days Of The Life Of and days of the life of Bolivar as he surrenders political power and travels down the Magdalena River to the coast on his last journey While he travels there are reflections on his past his role in the wars of independence against Spain and his political ambitions This is an interesting historical novel in shades of Wolf Hall here that the author was trying to remodel the popular image of the man Bolivar has been seen as a founding father for many of the former Spanish colonies but here we see his dream of a unified republic containing the modern states of Venezuela Columbia and Ecuador dying as he too fades out of life as the river flows home to the sea The failure of his political ambitions will allow him to be recast as a safe patriotic icon and the man seems to struggle against this the fate of a person to be recast as an icon as soon as he is barely cold in his grave as he is racked with ill health on his final journey When I heard that Gabriel Garcia Maruez had died I walked over to my shelf of South American literature and picked up The General in His Labyrinth The story is about the last days of Simon Bolivar the Liberator as he took a 14 day cruise down the Rio Magdalena to the Caribbean from whence he would ship out for Europe But this was not to be Not only was the Liberator dying but he had the misfortune of seeing the proud republics he had founded falling prey to disunity and suabbling In answer to the pleas of his friends to continue in the leadership he backs off It was the end General Simon Jose Antonio de la Santisima Trinidad Bolivar y Palacios was leaving forever He had wrested from Spanish domination an empire five times vast than all of Europe he had led twenty years of wars to eep it free and united and he had governed it with a firm hand until the week before but when it was time to leave he did not even take away with him the consolation that anyone believed in his departure The only man with enough lucidity to now he really was going and where he was going to was the English diplomat who wrote in an official report to his government The time he has left will hardly be enough for him to reach his graveAnd so it was When Bolivar and his retinue reach the shores of the Caribbean he temporizes about leaving while dealing with rumors of the dissolution of Colombia and Venezuela He is half tempted to go back to war to restore Riohacha Except he is desperately ill and his moment of glory is past Even as death approaches he is a remarkable man and his letters fly all around South America and the Caribbean trying futilely to hold all the pieces together one last timeIt was a Love for Imperfect Things kind of double sadness anticipating the death of this incredible conueror in the shadow of the death of Garcia Maruez who wrote this book in 1989 a uarter of a century ago The General in His Labyrinth is like others of his works that I have read a simple story bathed in the magic of the tropics and told with aind of sublime generosity toward his characters There is not a shred of irony or post modernism to destroy the effect Garcia Maruez joins other great storytellers like Isaac Bashevis Singer and Nikolai Leskov in his respect for the primacy of the tale itselfHe will be missed El General en su Laberinto The General in His Labyrinth Gabriel Garc a M ruezThe General in His Labyrinth is a 1989 dictator novel by Colombian writer and Nobel laureate Gabriel Garc a O No se atrevió a acercarse sino ue lo llamó con voz sorda de acuerdo con la orden de despertarlo antes de las cinco para viajar con las primeras luces les. An honest and compassionate tribute to a truly remarkable hero in the last days of his life The General in His Labyrinth recounts the final voyage of a fascinating historical figure Sim n Bol var who secured South America s independence from Spain and was president of several nations but who failed in his grand ambition to unite the continent The character of Bol var is one of flaws and contradictions a great yet humble man ambitious in his aims though not desirous of personal glory He died in relatively modest conditions having rejected political power and exhausted his vast fortune It was perhaps his virtues as much as his faults that hindered unification and instead left behind a foundation of uncertainty and instability for these nations to build upon I wish I d had a greater prior familiarity with the figures places and events of this novel unfortunately so much of the historical detail was lost on me But the novel is also about personal decline about success and failure as seen in the frame of the finality of death All this conveyed of course though Garc a M ruez s masterful prose which moves with such gentle understated ease between the present and the remembered past constantly shifting between the internal and external yet arriving at each consecutive point in the narrative in a way that feels entirely natural and conseuential I always feel a twinge of pity when someone tells me I don t read for pleasure any or I only read non fiction Most of the pity is sympathy for the fact that in today s busy world we just don t have the time Whenever someone expresses awe at the number of books I read in a year and asks me how I do it I say truthfully that I make the time to read just as I make the time to write these reviews So I realize that the act of reading is itself a commitment an investment of time and energy and it s a shame we don t have opportunities for itStillThe rest of the pity goes towards the smaller worlds in which people who don t read fiction must live Non fiction is great I love a good biography history or science text But let s be honest here I would never ever pick up a non fiction book about the history of South America It s just not a topic that it would occur to me to read about let alone something I m interested in reading about as non fiction Even if someone gave me such a book as a gift I d probably struggle through it I d likely find it dry confusing difficult to relate to The sad truth is that I learned absolutely nothing about South American history in school While we focused on the founding of Canada and the various World Wars South America itself was a big uestion mark on the map dangling off the end of MexicoHand me a novel set in nineteenth century South America though and then we re on solid ground Therein lies the power of fiction it can be a tool of education as well as entertainment It can create empathy for characters whose lives are incredibly different from our own And it also exposes us to facts and ideas that we would never be interested in reading as non fiction items I don t want to read a biography of S mon Bolivar I did read a fictional account of his last days as he journeyed into exileSo with The General in His Labyrinth Gabriel Garc a M ruez contributes to the closing of another massive gap in my nowledge of world history Through this sliver of story I have glimpsed the genesis of the countries of South America and the remarkable role Bolivar played in their founding I ve also enjoyed a slow and meditative look at the mind and last days of a man of many deeds and many contradictionsGarc a M ruez refers to Bolivar throughout as only the General He could just as easily have chosen President or Liberator so in choosing the first mode of address he emphasizes Bolivar s military past This is a man who is not a politician so much as a
warrior and a strategist His vision is that of the conueror and the liberator peace for Bolivar and a strategist His vision is that of the conueror and the liberator peace for Bolivar not ever really "on the table This theme reverberates through the novel which does not follow a straightforward chronological path in both the past "the table This theme reverberates through the novel which does not follow a straightforward chronological path in both the past the present chaos seems to stalk the General at every turnHis past is a patchwork of unrest and rebellion Even after wresting control of South America from its absentee Spanish overlords the General finds that pacifying his own people is itself a task of a lifetime His dream of a unified South America recedes ever into the distance and though every government affords him the highest honours he is regularly the subject of assassination attempts This mirrors the present which has an illusion of restfulness and closure at least within the General s inner circle Without Garc a M ruez depicts almost comical efforts to eep the General within a cocoon of misinformation guards and servants conspire to eep him ignorant of the social unrest and protests that dog him from the start of the journey to its end At every town those in charge meet the General with open armsOf course what makes this journey so special is the finality of it the General is dying Tuberculosis has ravaged his body to the point where many doubt he will survive to see Europe and exile This spectre of mortality looms over every event of the book as Garc a M ruez constantly reminds us through his regular descriptions of the various ways the General s body betrays him For a man who stood against Spain and ruled multiple countries the end is just as ordinary as a peasant on the streets The General s body slowly deteriorates and with it so too does his sense of agency He clings almost desperately to the privilege of shaving himself in the morning despite failing eyesight and a shaking handWith the end of the General so too there is the sense of an ending to the situation in South America As long as the General travels down the river it feels like all of South America is paused Things are happening yes but they are distant and indistinct events related back by hearsay and rumour Nevertheless this constant murmur creates a tension that will only dissolve upon the General s death only then can everything rush into motion old alliances discarded and new ones brokered along lines that have been visible for monthsGarc a M ruez s style is relaxing Much like Jhumpa Lahiri in The Lowland his reliance on artful descriptions over dialogue draws the reader into the ebb and flow of the narrative It s very easy to curl up with this book next to a fire and with a cup of tea and lose oneself in the General s final journey into the annals of history This isn t a story in the traditional sense where things happen one after the other where a protagonist and antagonist do battle to resolve a conflict Instead it is an account a detailed look at the last days of someone who made such a big impact on the world Garc a M ruez spends little time attempting to rationalize the General s actions or intent or even trying to get inside the General s head As the General s manservant Jose Palacios would say only my master nows what my master is thinking And so this is a restful book It s a book that invites contemplation and consideration though it reuires neither It s a book that offers few answers preferring instead to offer up images and ideas leaving you to come up with the uestions yourself It educates but indirectly and as discreetly as possible It s the perfect blend of history and literature This is wonderful Dense with historical incident deft characterization. José Palacios su servidor más antiguo lo encontró flotando en las aguas depurativas de la bañera desnudo y con los ojos abiertos y creyó ue se había ah.
Gabriel García Márquez ´ 5 reviewAnd the telling detail that is Garc a M ruez s hallmark It s the story of Sim n Bol var he who liberated South America from Spanish colonial tyranny and his retreat from public life just prior to his death The great trick of the novel is to make condensed passages of historical summary ring with life through the recollections of the dying General Predictably perhaps he obsessively catalogs his enemies perfidies which on some level seem to be the disease which is illing him though it s actually TB Such is the loyalty of the man s officers that just before his death he sends them off on various guerilla missions to undermine the governments of his enemies Despite the sure nowledge of his impending death he seeks to promote insurrection instead of harmony It is for this reason that John Lynch one of Bol var s biographers detests the popular idea of the man as the George Washington of South America Truly he was nothing of the Divertimento kind He allowed himself to be named Liberator and Dictator of Peru and through the Oca a Convention named himself Bolivia s president for life with the ability to pass on the title He needlessly promulgated multiple contradictory edicts He was against popular representative government Though paradoxically he believed in a US style federalist union for South America he was incapable of putting goals for the growth of inclusive democratic institutions above his petty enmities as Washington did with such aplomb time after time NB Washington was a Virginia plantation owner who freed his slaves upon his death in 1799 All US slaves were freed by Abraham Lincoln s Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 See Speeches and Writings 1859 1865 It was 1816 however when Bolivar manumitted the slaves of South America including his ownSim n Bol var in his final hoursWe also meet his longtime forebearing lover Manuela S enz and find her to be as formidable a character as the General himself At one point some weeks after after the General and his retinue have traveled into exile on a cortege of barges down the Magdalena she incites civil unrest back in Santa Fe de Bogata against his enemies In an attempt to make her life impossible the Ministry of the Interior had asked her to turn over the General s archives she had in her care She refused and set in motion a campaign of provocations that drove the government mad In the company of two of her warrior slavewomen manumitted she fomented scandals distributed pamphlets glorifying the General and erased charcoal slogans scrawled on public walls It was commonnowledge that she entered barracks wearing the uniform of a colonel and was apt to take part in the soldiers fiestas as in the officers conspiracies The most serious rumor was that right under Urdaneta s nose she was promoting an armed rebellion to reestablish the absolute power of the GeneralSo a beautifully written if dense narrative that satisfies on multiple levels Do read it One final note there s no magic realism here as in The Autumn of the Patriarch or One Hundred Years of Solitude But the narrative is nonchronological which demands an attentive reader This is no in flight or beach read I found it deeply satisfying Everyone Love Is a Fairy Tale knows of the big historical events that took place in the 1800 during the liberation of Latin America from the Spanish colonization that are of course associated with Simon Bolivar aka the Liberator Apart from his vision for a united Latin America that would form the biggest country that would be half of the world his wars for integration and his glories no one cares tonow about his endGabo had to do extensive reasearch for two years contacting people from so many different walks of life to make this book about the general s final 14 days during the trip along the Magdalena River as accurate as possible he even had a university professor help him in figuring out all the days in which there was a full moon during those yearsThe book gives a totally different image of Simon Bolivar who is a hero to many and a villain to some the book reveals the flesh and bone man with his obsessions sickness weaknesses and above all vulnerability It helps us understand how one *S CHILDHOOD AND YOUTH AFFECT WHO YOU BECOME AND *childhood and youth affect who you become and life as an adult affects how you die His vulgar language his constant fevers and delirium his sexual adventures all define the stories of the men and women who were involved in his life and were ept together around it even after it faded awayThe Bolivarian dream lives on Boy I trudged my way through this fictionalized account of Sim n Bol var s final voyage along the Magdalena River The prose is sharp and beautiful when it needs to be this is after all Garc a Maruez but the story held no interest In fact I m tempted to ask in response what storyPeople and places from the General s life are constantly evoked but on this point I have two major critiues first the flashbacks are far too paltry a page or two at most to really generate any parallel much less compelling storyline The persons mentioned in these flashbacks reappear throughout the journey but it feels like a revolving door of dry one dimensional historical figures to whom the reader well me at least is unable to form any meaningful relationship Second as a conseuence of the first point too much is expected of the reader in terms of well South American history but really Colombian history as well I found myself thinking why was this book translated into EnglishFinally I found the General to be a rather uninteresting character Garc a M ruez often mentions the various inconsistencies in his life and loves but that s a cheap way to add character depth God I was so glad when at the end the General finally died If you re going to tell the stories that History forgot a far interesting tale would have been the imagined life of Jos Palacios a former slave and the General s most loyal servant Idleness was painful after so many years of wars bitter governments and trivial lovesThe profundity of Sim n Bol var s vision became the bane of his life He was destined to be the man who led the Latin American people to freedom from the imperial rule of Spain Having broken the shackles of slavery he took over the uncontested leadership of the vast continent as the President with the singular aim of unifying the freed countries of the Americas into the greatest republic the world has ever nown a dream that was never to come true In this historical novel Maruez leads the reader to travel in the heavy footsteps of the despondent and disillusioned General on his final voyage along the Magdalena river to tell the unmagical story of shattered dreams broken allegiances dead glories made all the intolerable by the General s terminal illnessThis is a portrait of the man Sim n Jos Antonio de la Sant sima Trinidad Bol var y Palacios not a politico military biography of the great General who
came to be nown as the liberator andto be nown as the Liberator and whom generations of Latin Americans have sung songs of praise and gratitude and in our times have named their countries after him finding in his person a newfound confidence to defy another empire in the north that sees them as our backyard But here Maruez without ever stating it is poised to dispel the myths spun on one hand by the great mass that loved and admired him and on the other by his enemies and detractors among his own people who had once broken the bread of victory alongside him in the wars of liberationBol var s ri. Ogado Sabía ue ése era uno de sus muchos modos de meditar pero el estado de éxtasis en ue yacía a la deriva parecía de alguien ue ya no era de este mund.