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His best work, his only movie

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Almost everyone loves a good love story, so it is not surprising that many followers of the late great Colombian Nobel Laureate Gabriel Garcia Márquez consider his best book to be Love in the Time of Cholera. What is shocking, however, is that this is the only one of Márquez’s novels to be turned into a movie. Márquez had once vowed that none of his novels would be filmed. His reason: characters lose some of their magic when people are forced to reconcile themselves with the image captured on film.  


In this case, that reconciliation wasn’t a difficult pill to swallow, because the movie starred American actor Benjamin Bratt as Dr Juvenal Urbino and Spanish actor Javier Bardem as Florentino Ariza, the ultimate romantic soul who dedicates his life to Fermina Daza, the woman who rejected him for the wealthy, prestigious doctor whom she marries. Florentino’s romanticism prevails over his despondency and propels him forward in life. We expect Florentino and his romantic notions to survive even when many people are dying from a cholera epidemic. This is a love that cannot be destroyed emotionally so it surely can’t be destroyed physically, which makes perfect sense in magical realism. At last, the good doctor dies 50 years, nine months, and four days after Florentino first confessed his love to Fermina. This time, he will not take no for an answer. Márquez received rave reviews for Love in the Time of Cholera. Renowned American novelist Thomas Pynchon wrote, “Suppose, then, it were possible, not only to swear love ‘forever,’ but actually to follow through on it: to put one's allotted stake of precious time where one's heart is? This is the extraordinary premise of Gabriel García Márquez's… Love in the Time of Cholera, one on which he delivers, and triumphantly.” 

In his review, The Heart’s Eternal Vow, Pynchon said Márquez writes “with impassioned control, out of a maniacal serenity: the Garcímárquesian voice we have come to recognise from the other fiction has matured…,  brought to a level where it can at once be classical and familiar, opalescent and pure, able to praise and curse, laugh and cry, fabulate and sing and when called upon, take off and soar.” Love in the Time of Cholera is a Caribbean story. It takes place between 1880 and 1930, in an unnamed Caribbean seaport city on the coast of Colombia. It is the story of love’s many different shades represented by the three main characters: the traditional, reliable, sensible and steady Dr Urbino, who can offer comfort, stability and the sense that love is like a rock that anchors the heart.  Florentino Ariza offers romantic love that throws all caution to the wind. Fermina chooses the safe route and the story then becomes one of what love represents and what one settles for when it comes to love. Fermina chooses to be practical when it comes to love, but Márquez has a point to make about romantic love. It is a special type of madness that must be experienced.


Discussion Questions

1. When it comes to love, are most people practical or romantic?
2. What role does money play in the choice between practical love and romantic love?

• Join us on the SAS Book Club page on Facebook to discuss this and other books.


Next Week

The SAS Book Club continues its month-long tribute to Gabriel Garcia Márquez with Of Love and Other Demons.


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