English, Department of


Date of this Version



Clio 28:4 (1999), pp 375-398.


Copyright © 1999 Purdue University Fort Wayne


If, as Harold Bloom suggests. One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967) is a "supreme fiction," it achieves that status as it reformulates early modern narratives of self-discovery and dominion. Garcia Márquez signals his intention of rewriting the great Renaissance narratives of discovery when he begins his 1982 Nobel Prize acceptance speech with an account of Antonio Pigafetta's Viaggio attorno al mondo (1522). As a navigator aboard Magellan's 1519–21 voyage around the world, Pigafetta kept a log that Garcia Márquez categorizes as an ancestor "of our contemporary novels." Where many Latin American writers might describe their work as postcolonial. García Márquez here suggests that his writing is post-Columbian. In One Hundred Years of Solitude, Garcia Márquez defines for his reader what it means to experience the world from the perspective of post-Columbian Europe as much as he does from post-Columbian America. Thus, the voyage of discovery into Latin America that is One Hundred Years cannot but begin with the Renaissance narratives that created a real story that is not yet finished. Over and over, Garcia Márquez dramatizes how Latin America is known—created—through these ways of seeing that have been inherited from the European Renaissance. Where revisionist histories focus primarily on what stories have been told, Garcia Márquez invokes these narratives of discovery to force us to rethink what kinds of stories can get told. Thus, this "epic" of tbe New World, as it is sometimes called, can be told only through the forms which it has inherited. As we shall see, these forms have invented not only Garcia Márquez but a culture, America, that, in the end, has become not what the Europeans imagined but what their imagining has wrought.