El otoño del patriarca by Gabriel García Márquez My rating: 5 of 5 stars
In this novel, as in most of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s work, history is at the center of the story, The Autumn of the Patriarch takes us trough the history of a whole continent through one character. Very different from any of his other work, this book is unlike anything he has written because if his collections of short stories feel as if they were literary exercises, his novels express themselves with narratives full intention, in them there is a clear story that opens and closes itself. So, after finishing one of his novels there is no traces of ambiguity or spaces for doubt, something that doesn’t always happen in the short stories.
His novels end with much more accuracy and intention. This precision is what you will find in The Autumn of the Patriarch (once you get over the difficult rhythm of the text) and history is one of its most fascinating aspects. From a beginning history touches everything. It starts by unfolding the history of the sickening character of a dictator, then to history itself (the official history). The novel makes justice to history with its fiction, and it is in his fiction that the stories come across as more convincing than the official story. They are caricatured and carnivalesque versions of history, they feel like that version told by locals, the version remembered by the protagonists themselves: the people and the dictator. For instance, in this novel we see all the recurring themes of a dictatorship, we see how the exercise of power fills of glory, transforms, confuses, and eventually condemns the dictator. Patricio Aragonés. I believe that because of this qualities, if something is essential, the novel relies on the satiric narration of the Latin American history–and what a spectacle!–, the novel tells the story of a whole continent through Patricio Aragonés, the patriarch, and his character is showered with mesmerizing attributes like his animal features, his divine qualities, and his power that can only be compared to that of god. This character is multidimensional yet is flawed and human, but more importantly this character is all the dictators in one and his nameless Caribbean nation is all the countries of Latin America in one.