Illustrated Masterpiece of Pastiche

 
 

Kafka’s Soup is a literary pastiche in the form of a cookbook. It contains 14 recipes each written in the style of a famous author from history. As of 2007 it had been translated into 18 languages and published in 27 countries. Excerpts from the book have appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald and the New York Times. Theatrical performances of the recipes have taken place in France and Canada. Kafka’s Soup is Mark Crick‘s first book. He has subsequently written two other books with similar themes; Sartre’s Sink and Machiavelli’s Lawn which are literary pastiches in the form of a DIY handbook and a gardening book respectively. Anybody who prefers their recipes to be a simple list of foolproof instructions should stay away.

Recipes include: tiramisu as made by Marcel Proust, cheese on toast by Harold Pinter, clafoutis grandmere by Virginia Woolf, chocolate cake prepared by Irvine Welsh, lamb with dill sauce by Raymond Chandler, onion tart by Geoffrey Chaucer, fenkata (rabbit stew) by Homer, boned stuffed poussins by the Marquis de Sade, mushroom risotto by John Steinbeck, tarragon eggs by Jane Austen, Vietnamese chicken by Graham Greene and Franz Kafka‘s Miso soup. Also included are recipes in the style of Jorge Luis Borges and Gabriel García Márquez.

Among the recipes that did not make the original edition of the book was “plum pudding à la Charles Dickens” which was written but rejected by Mark Crick for being “too long-winded”. It was, however, included in a subsequent paperback edition of the book along with two recipes, Rösti à la Thomas Mann and moules marinieres à la Italo Calvino, originally created for the German and Italian translations respectively.

Kafka’s Soup has become a cult hit. Andy Miller of The Telegraph called the recipes “note-perfect parodies of literary greats”. Emily Stokes of The Observer called it an “illustrated masterpiece of pastiche” citing the lamb with dill sauce as “particularly good”. C J Schüler wrote that Virginia Woolf’s clafoutis grandmere is the “pièce de resistance” and called the collection “irresistibly moreish”. He later called the book “a little gem of literary impersonation”. Schüler believes that “part of the book’s appeal lies in the fact that the recipes…actually work.”

 
 

 
 

Kafka’s Soup is illustrated with paintings by the author in the style of a number of famous artists including Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, William Hogarth, Giorgio De Chirico, Henry Moore, Egon Schiele and Andy Warhol.

The idea for Kafka’s Soup arose during a conversation between Crick and a publisher. Crick noted his dislike for cookbooks saying that he enjoyed looking at the pictures but found the accompanying text dull. When asked what would it take for him to read beyond the ingredients list he replied “if [the text] was written by the world’s greatest authors.” The publisher liked the idea and, in Crick’s words, “she said that if I wrote it she’d publish it.”

Most of the recipes in the book are Crick’s own, although some, such as the chocolate cake, came from his friends. Crick notes the implausibility of some of his authors cooking their stated dishes (for example he states that John Steinbeck “would never have eaten [mushroom risotto]” and “I certainly accept any challenge that Kafka would not have eaten miso soup”). He says that he selected the recipes based on the ability of each dish to allow him to use the language he wished to use. Chocolate cake was selected for Irvine Welsh because “people become terribly selfish when there’s chocolate cake around, just as they do with drugs. It’s the closest many get to taking heroin.”

Crick says that he found Virginia Woolf the most difficult of the authors to write while Raymond Chandler was the easiest.

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Third Resignation, First Literary Success

Gabriel García Márquez’s first short story, La tercera resignación (The Third Resignation), was published with an illustration by the artist Hernan Merino in El Espectador (Saturday 13 September, 1947). He wrote it in the fashion of Maupassant’s Le Horla and strongly inspired by Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis

 
 

“There was that noise again. That cold, cutting, vertical noise that he knew so well now; but it was coming to him now sharp and painful, as if he had become unaccustomed to it overnight.

It was spinning around inside his empty head, dull and biting. A beehive had risen up inside the four walls of his skull. It grew larger and larger with successive spirals, and it beat on him inside, making the stem of his spinal cord quiver with an irregular vibration, out of pitch with the sure rhythm of his body. Something had become unadapted in his human material structure; something that had functioned normally “at other times” and now was hammering at his head from within with dry and hard blows made by the bones of a fleshless, skeletal hand, and it made him remember all the bitter sensations of life. He had the animal impulse to clench his fists and squeeze his temples, which sprouted blue and purple arteries with the firm pressure of his desperate pain. He would have liked to catch the noise that was piercing the moment with its sharp diamond point between the palms of his sensitive hands. The figure of a domestic cat made his muscles contract when he imagined it chasing through the tormented corners of his hot, fever-torn head. Now he would catch it. No. The noise had slippery fur, almost untouchable. But he was ready to catch it with his well-learned strategy and hold it long and tightly with all the strength of his desperation. He would not permit it to enter through his ear again, to come out through his mouth, through each one of his pores or his eyes, which rolled as it went through and remained blind, looking at the flight of the noise from the depths of the shattered darkness. He would not allow it to break its cut-glass crystals, its ice stars, against the interior wall of his cranium. That was what that noise was like: interminable, like a child beating his head against a concrete wall. Like all hard blows against nature’s firm things. But if he could encircle it, isolate it, it would no longer torment him. Go and cut the variable figure from its own shadow. Grab it. Squeeze it, yes, once and for all now. Throw it onto the pavement with all his might and step on it ferociously until he could say, panting, that he had killed the noise that was tormenting him, that was driving him mad, and that was now stretched out on the ground like any ordinary thing, transformed into an integral death.

But it was impossible for him to squeeze his temples. His arms had been shortened on him and were now the limbs of a dwarf: small, chubby, adipose arms. He tried to shake his head. He shook it. The noise then appeared with greater force inside his skull, which had hardened, grown larger, felt itself more strongly attracted by gravity. The noise was heavy and hard. So heavy and hard that once he had caught and destroyed it, he would have the impression that he had plucked the petals off a lead flower.

He had heard the noise with the same insistence “at other times.” He had heard it, for instance, on the day he had died for the first time. The time—when he saw a corpse—that he realized it was his own corpse. He looked at it and he touched it. He felt himself untouchable, unspatial, nonexistent. He really was a corpse and he could already feel the passage of death on his young and sickly body. The atmosphere had hardened all through the house, as if it had been filled with cement, and in the middle of that block—where objects had remained as when it had been an atmosphere of air—there he was, carefully placed inside a coffin of hard but transparent cement. “That noise” had been in his head that time too. How distant and how cold the soles of his feet had felt there at the other end of the coffin, where they had placed a pillow, because the box was still too big for him and they had to adjust it, adapt the dead body to its new and last garment. They covered him with white and tied a handkerchief around his jaw; mortally handsome.

He was in his coffin, ready to be buried, and yet he knew that he wasn’t dead. That if he tried to get up he could do it so easily. “Spiritually,” at least. But it wasn’t worth the trouble. Better to let himself die right there; die of “death,” which was his illness. It had been some time since the doctor had said to his mother, dryly:

“Madam, your child has a grave illness: he is dead. Nevertheless,” he went on, “we shall do everything possible to keep him alive beyond death. We will succeed in making his organic functions continue through a complex system of autonutrition. Only the motor functions will be different, his spontaneous movements. We shall watch his life through growth, which, too, shall continue on in a normal fashion. It is simply ’a living death.’ A real and true death. . .”

He remembered the words but in a confused way. Perhaps he had never heard them and it was the creation of his brain as his temperature rose during the crisis of typhoid fever.

While he was sinking into delirium. When he had read the tales of embalmed pharaohs. As his fever rose, he felt himself to be the protagonist. A kind of emptiness in his life had begun there. From then on he had been unable to distinguish, to remember what events were part of his delirium and what were part of his real life. That was why he doubted now. Perhaps the doctor had never mentioned that strange “living death.” It was illogical, paradoxical, simply contradictory. And it made him suspect now that he really was dead. That he had been for eighteen years.

It was then—at the time of his death when he was seven years old—that his mother had had a small coffin made for him out of green wood, a child’s coffin, but the doctor had ordered them to make a larger box, a box for a normal adult, because that one there might atrophy growth and he would develop into a deformed dead person or an abnormal living one. Or the detention of growth might impede his realizing that he was getting better. In view of that warning, his mother had a large coffin made for him, one for an adult corpse, and in it she placed three pillows at his feet so that he would fit it properly.

Soon he began to grow inside the box in such a way that every year they would remove some wool from the end pillow so as to give him room for growth. That was how he had spent half his life. Eighteen years. (He was twenty-five now.) And he had reached his normal, definitive height. The carpenter and the doctor had been mistaken in their calculations and had made the coffin two feet too long. They had thought he would have the stature of his father, who had been a half-savage giant. But that was not how it was. The only thing he had inherited from him was his thick beard. A thick, blue beard, which his mother was in the habit of arranging so as to give him a more decent appearance in his coffin. That beard bothered him terribly on hot days.

But there was something that worried him more than “the noise.” It was the mice! Even when he was a child nothing in the world had worried him more, had produced more terror in him than mice. And it was precisely those disgusting animals who had been attracted by the smell of the candles that burned at his feet. They had already gnawed his clothes and he knew that soon they would start gnawing him, eating his body. One day he was able to see them: they were five shiny, slithery mice who had climbed up into the box by the table leg and were devouring him. By the time his mother noticed it there would be nothing left of him except rubble, his hard, cold bones. What produced even more horror in him was not exactly that the mice would eat him. After all, he could go on living with his skeleton. What tormented him was the innate terror he felt toward those small animals. His hair stood on end just thinking about those velvety creatures who ran all over his body, got into the folds of his skin, and brushed his lips with their icy paws. One of them climbed up to his eyelids and tried to gnaw at his cornea. He saw it, large and monstrous, in its desperate effort to bore through his retina. He thought that it was a new death and surrendered completely to the imminence of vertigo.

He remembered that he had reached adulthood. He was twenty-five years old and that meant that he wouldn’t grow any more. His features would become firm, serious. But when he was healthy he wouldn’t be able to talk about his childhood. He hadn’t had any. He had spent it dead.

His mother had taken rigorous care during the time between childhood and puberty. She was concerned about the perfect hygiene of the coffin and the room as a whole. She changed the flowers in the vases frequently and. opened the windows every day so that the fresh air could come in. It was with great satisfaction that she examined the metric tape in those days, when after measuring him she would ascertain that he had grown several centimeters. She had the maternal satisfaction of seeing him alive. Still, she took care to avoid the presence of strangers in the house. After all, the existence of a corpse in family quarters over long years was disagreeable and mysterious. She was a woman of abnegation. But soon her optimism began to decline. During the last years, he saw her look at the metric tape with sadness. Her child was no longer growing. For the past few months the growth had not progressed a single millimeter. His mother knew that now it would be difficult to observe the presence of life in her beloved corpse. She had the fear that one morning she would find him “really” dead, and perhaps because of that on the day in question he was able to observe that she approached his box discreetly and smelled his body. She had fallen into a crisis of pessimism. Of late she had neglected her attentions and no longer took the precaution of carrying the metric tape. She knew that he wasn’t going to grow any more.

And he knew that now he was “really” dead. He knew it because of that gentle tranquility with which his organism had let itself be carried off. Everything had changed unseasonably. The imperceptible beats that only he could perceive had disappeared from his pulse now. He felt heavy, drawn by a reclaiming and potent force toward the primitive substance of the earth. The force of gravity seemed to attract him now with an irrevocable power. He was heavy, like a positive, undeniable corpse. But it was more restful that way. He didn’t even have to breathe in order to live his death.

In an imaginary way, without touching himself, one by one he went over his members. There, on a hard pillow, was his head, turned a bit toward the left. He imagined his mouth slightly open because of the narrow strip of cold that filled his throat with hail. He had been chopped down like a twenty-five-year-old tree. Perhaps he had tried to close his mouth. The handkerchief that had held his jaw was loose. He was unable to get himself in place, compose himself, even to strike a pose to look like a decent corpse. His muscles, his members, no longer responded as before, punctual to the call of the nervous system. He was no longer what he had been eighteen years before, a normal child who could move as he wished. He felt his fallen arms, fallen forever, tight against the cushioned sides of the coffin. His stomach hard, like the bark of a walnut tree. And beyond there were his legs, whole, exact, completing his perfect adult anatomy. His body rested heavily, but peacefully, with no discomfort whatever, as if the world had suddenly stopped and no one would break the silence, as if all the lungs of the earth had ceased breathing so as not to break the soft silence of the air. He felt as happy as a child face up on the thick, cool grass contemplating a high cloud flying off in the afternoon sky. He was happy, even though he knew he was dead, that he would rest forever in the box lined with artificial silk. He had great lucidity. It was not as before, after his first death, in which he felt dull, listless. The four candles they had placed around him, which were replaced every three months, had begun to go out again, just when they would be indispensable. He felt the closeness of the fresh, damp violets his mother had brought that morning. He felt it in the lilies, the roses. But all that terrible reality did not give him any anxiety. Quite the opposite, he was happy there, alone in his solitude. Would he feel fear afterward?

Who can say? It was hard to think about the moment when the hammer would pound the nails into the green wood and the coffin would creak under its certain hope of becoming a tree once more. His body, drawn now with greater force by the imperative of the earth, would remain tilted in a damp, claylike, soft depth and up there, four cubic yards above, the gravediggers’ last blows would grow faint. No. He wouldn’t feel fear there either. That would be the prolongation of his death, the most natural prolongation of his new state.

Not even a degree of heat would be left in his body, his medulla would have frozen forever and little ice stars would penetrate as deep as the marrow of his bones. How well he would grow used to his new life as a dead man! One day, however, he will feel his solid armor fall apart, and when he tries to name, review, each one of his members, he won’t find them. He will feel that he doesn’t have any definitive, exact form, and he will know with resignation that he has lost his perfect twenty-five-year-old anatomy and has been changed into a handful of shapeless dust, with no geometric definition.

The biblical dust of death. Perhaps then he will feel a slight nostalgia, the nostalgia of not being a formal, anatomical corpse, but, rather, an imaginary, abstract corpse, assembled only in the hazy memory of his kin. He will know then that he will rise up the capillary vessels of an apple tree and awaken, bitten by the hunger of a child on some autumn day. He will know—and that did sadden him—that he has lost his unity: that he is no longer even an ordinary dead man, a common corpse.

He had spent that last night in the solitary company of his own corpse.

But with the new day, with the penetration of the first rays of the lukewarm sun through the open window, he felt his skin softening. He observed it for a moment. Quiet, rigid. He let the air run over his body. There was no doubt about it: the “smell” was there. During the night the corpse rot had begun to have its effects. His organism had begun to decompose, rot, like the bodies of all dead people. The “smell” was undoubtedly, unmistakably, the smell of gamy meat, disappearing and then reappearing, more penetrating. His body was decomposing with the heat of the previous night. Yes. He was rotting. Within a few hours his mother would come to change the flowers and the stench of decomposed flesh would hit her from the threshold. Then they would take him away to sleep his second death among the other dead.

But suddenly fear struck him in the back like a dagger. Fear! Such a deep word, so meaningful! Now he really was afraid, with a true, “physical” fear. What was its cause? He understood perfectly and it made his flesh creep: he probably wasn’t dead. They’d put him there, in that box, which now seemed so perfectly soft, so cushioned, so terribly comfortable, and the phantom of fear opened the window of reality to him: They were going to bury him alive!

He couldn’t be dead because he had an exact awareness of everything: of the life that was spinning and murmuring about him. Of the warm smell of heliotrope that came in through the open window and mingled with the other “smell.” He was quite aware of the slow dripping of the water in the cistern. Of the cricket that had stayed in the corner and was still chirping, thinking that early morning was still there.

Everything denied his death. Everything except the “smell.” But how could he know that the smell was his? Maybe his mother had forgotten to change the water in the vases the day before and the stems were rotting. Or maybe the mouse which the cat had dragged into his room had decomposed with the heat. No. The “smell” couldn’t be coming from his body.

A few moments before he had been happy with his death, because he had thought he was dead. Because a dead man can be happy with his irremediable situation. But a living person can’t resign himself to being buried alive. Yet his members wouldn’t respond to his call. He couldn’t express himself and that was what caused his terror, the greatest terror of his life and of his death. They were going to bury him alive. He might be able to feel, be aware of the moment they nailed up the box. He would feel the emptiness of the body suspended across the shoulders of friends as his anguish and desperation grew with every step of the procession.

He will try to rise up in vain, to call with all his weakened forces, to pound inside the dark and narrow coffin so that they will know that he is still alive, that they are going to bury him alive. It would be useless. Even there his members would not respond to that urgent and last call of his nervous system.

He heard sounds in the next room. Could he have been asleep? Could all that life of a dead man have been a nightmare? But the sound of the dishes didn’t go on. He became sad and maybe he was annoyed because of it. He would have wanted all the dishes in the world to break in one single crash right there beside him, to be awakened by an outside cause since his own will had failed.

But no. It wasn’t a dream. He was sure that if it had been a dream his last intent to return to reality wouldn’t have failed. He wouldn’t wake up again. He felt the softness of the coffin, and the “smell” had returned with greater strength now, with so much strength that he already doubted that it was his own smell. He would have liked to see his relatives there before he began to fall apart, and the spectacle of putrefying flesh would have produced a revulsion in them. The neighbors would flee in fright from the casket, holding a handkerchief to their mouths. They would spit. No. Not that. It would be better if they buried him. It would be better to get out of “that” as soon as possible. Even he now wanted to be quit of his own corpse. Now he knew that he was truly dead, or, at least, inappreciably alive. What difference did it make? The “smell” persisted in any case.

He would hear the last prayers with resignation, the last Latin mouthings and the acolytes’ incompetent response. The cold of the cemetery, filled with dust and bones, would penetrate down even to his bones and dissipate the “smell” a bit, perhaps. Perhaps—who knows!—the imminence of the moment will bring him out of that lethargy. When he feels himself swimming in his own sweat, in a viscous, thick water, as he had swum in the uterus of his mother before being born. Perhaps he is alive, then.

But most likely he is so resigned to dying now that he might well die of resignation.”

A Liberating Influence

Gabriel García Márquez with a copy of  One Hundred Years of Solitude on his head.  Photograph by Isabel Steva Hernández

 
 

“A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us.”

When Franz Kafka wrote these now famous words to his friend Oskar Pollak in 1904,  he unknowingly foreshadowed the impact of his as-yet-unpublished novella The Metamorphosis on a young writer reading him in translation as a university student in Bogotá, Colombia in the 1940s.

The influence of Kafka is  great among twentieth-century writers from Albert Camus to Jorge Luis Borges — the term Kafkaesque has even entered the vernacular as a way to describe events so bizarre they seem surreal — but the transformation of his protagonist Gregor Samsa from alienated bureaucrat into a gigantic insect over the course of one morning seems to have had the most profound impact on the literary output of Gabriel García Márquez, who cites the story as inspiring his vocation.

In Living to Tell the Tale, published in 2003 as the first of three projected volumes of his memoirs, taking him from birth through the age of twenty-eight, the Nobel-winning author of magical realist novels One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera describes a night his roommate came in with three books he had just bought:

“…and he lent me one chosen at random, as he often did to help me sleep. But this time the effect was just the opposite: I never again slept with my former serenity. The book was Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis… that determined a new direction for my life from its first line, which today is one of the great devices in world literature: ‘As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect.’…When I finished reading The Metamorphosis I felt an irresistible longing to live in that alien paradise. The day found me at the portable typewriter… attempting to write something that would resemble Kafka’s poor bureaucrat changed into an enormous cockroach.”

More succinctly in a 1981 Paris Review interview, he says:

“When I read the line I thought to myself that I didn’t know anyone was allowed to write things like that. If I had known, I would have started writing a long time ago. So I immediately started writing short stories.”

That Kafka had such a liberating influence is especially striking given the strong possibility that his writings could easily have never reached García Márquez. As he was dying in 1924 at the age of forty, Kafka famously demanded that his friend Max Brod, a fellow German-speaking member of Prague’s Jewish community, burn all of his papers. Against his wishes, Brod published a selection of his manuscripts, bringing what is widely considered to be the most important body of work in twentieth-century German literature to the masses.

 

Swarmed by Yellow Butterflies

Gabriel García Márquez photographed by Juan Ruy Castaño

 
 

“I came to see the new models,” Meme said. “That’s a fine excuse,” he said.

Meme realized that he was burning in the heat of his pride, and she desperately looked for a way to humiliate him. But he would not give her any time. “Don’t get upset,” he said to her in a low voice. “It’s not the first time that a woman has gone crazy over a man.” She felt so defeated that she left the garage without seeing the new models and she spent the night turning over in bed and weeping with indignation. The American redhead, who was really beginning to interest her, looked like a baby in diapers. It was then that she realized that the yellow butterflies preceded the appearances of Mauricio Babilonia. She had seen them before, especially over the garage, and she had thought that they were drawn by the smell of paint. Once she had seen them fluttering about her head before she went into the movies. But when Mauricio Babilonia began to pursue her like a ghost that only she could identify in the crowd, she understood that the butterflies had something to do with him. Mauricio Babilonia was always in the audience at the concerts, at the movies, at high mass, and she did not have to see him to know that he was there, because the butterflies were always there. Once Aureliano Segundo became so impatient with the suffocating fluttering that she felt the impulse to confide her secret to him as she had promised, but instinct told her that he would laugh as usual and say: “What would your mother say if she found out?” One morning, while she was pruning the roses, Fernanda let out a cry of fright and had Meme taken away from the spot where she was, which was the same place in the garden where Remedios the Beauty had gone up to heaven. She had thought for an instant that the miracle was going to be repeated with her daughter, because she had been bothered by a sudden flapping of wings. It was the butterflies. Meme saw them as if they had suddenly been born out of the light and her heart gave a turn. At that moment Mauricio Babilonia came in with a package that according to what he said, was a present from Patricia Brown. Meme swallowed her blush, absorbed her tribulation, and even managed a natural smile as she asked him the favor of leaving it on the railing because her hands were dirty from the garden. The only thing that Fernanda noted in the man whom a few months later she was to expel from the house without remembering where she had seen him was the bilious texture of his skin.

“He’s a very strange man,” Fernanda said. “You can see in his face that he’s going to die.”

Meme thought that her mother had been impressed by the butterflies. When they finished pruning the row bushes she washed her hands and took the package to her bedroom to open it. It was a kind of Chinese toy, made up of five concentric boxes, and in the last one there was a card laboriously inscribed by someone who could barely write: We’ll get together Saturday at the movies. Meme felt with an aftershock that the box had been on the railing for a long time within reach of Fernanda’s curiosity, and although she was flattered by the audacity and ingenuity of Mauricio Babilonia, she was moved by his Innocence in expecting that she would keep the date. Meme knew at that time that Aureliano Segundo had an appointment on Saturday night. Nevertheless, the fire of anxiety burned her so much during the course of the week that on Saturday she convinced her father to leave her alone in the theater and come back for her after the show. A nocturnal butterfly fluttered about her head while the lights were on. And then it happened. When the lights went out, Mauricio Babilonia sat down beside her. Meme felt herself splashing in a bog of hesitation from which she could only be rescued, as had occurred in her dreams, by that man smelling of grease whom she could barely see in the shadows.

“If you hadn’t come,” he said, “You never would have seen me again.”

Meme felt the weight of his hand on her knee and she knew that they were both arriving at the other side of abandonment at that instant.
“What shocks me about you,” she said, smiling, “is that you always say exactly what you shouldn’t be saying.”
She lost her mind over him. She could not sleep and she lost her appetite and sank so deeply into solitude that even her father became an annoyance. She worked out an intricate web of false dates to throw Fernanda off the track, lost sight of her girl friends, leaped over conventions to be with Mauricio Babilonia at any time and at any place. At first his crudeness bothered her. The first time that they were alone on the deserted fields behind the garage he pulled her mercilessly into an animal state that left her exhausted. It took her time to realize that it was also a form of tenderness and it was then that she lost her calm and lived only for him, upset by the desire to sink into his stupefying odor of grease washed off by lye. A short time before the death of Amaranta she suddenly stumbled into in open space of lucidity within the madness and she trembled before the uncertainty of the future. Then she heard about a woman who made predictions from cards and went to see her in secret. It was Pilar Ternera. As soon as Pilar saw her come in she was aware of Meme’s hidden motives. “Sit down,” she told her. “I don’t need cards to tell the future of a Buendía,” Meme did not know and never would that the centenarian witch was her great–grandmother. Nor would she have believed it after the aggressive realism with which she revealed to her that the anxiety of falling in love could not find repose except in bed. It was the same point of view as Mauricio Babilonia’s, but Meme resisted believing it because underneath it all she imagined that it had been inspired by the poor judgment of a mechanic. She thought then that love on one side was defeating love on the other, because it was characteristic of men to deny hunger once their appetites were satisfied. Pilar Ternera not only cleared up that mistake, she also offered the old canopied bed where she had conceived Arcadio, Meme’s grandfather, and where afterward she conceived Aureli-ano José. She also taught her how to avoid an unwanted conception by means of the evaporation of mustard plasters and gave her recipes for potions that in cases of trouble could expel “even the remorse of conscience.” That interview instilled In Meme the same feeling of bravery that she had felt on the drunken evening. Amaranta’s death, however, obliged her to postpone the decision. While the nine nights lasted she did not once leave the side of Mauricio Babilonia, who mingled with the crowd that invaded the house. Then came the long period of mourning and the obligatory withdrawal and they separated for a time. Those were days of such inner agitation, such irrepressible anxiety, and so many repressed urges that on the first evening that Meme was able to get out she went straight to Pilar Ternera’s. She surrendered to Mauricio Babilonia, without resistance, without shyness, without formalities, and with a vocation that was so fluid and an intuition that was so wise that a more suspicious man than hers would have confused them with obvious experience. They made love twice a week for more than three months, protected by the innocent complicity of Aureliano Segundo, who believed without suspicion in his daughter’s alibis simply in order to set her free from her mother’s rigidity.

On the night that Fernanda surprised them in the movies Aureliano Segundo felt weighted down by the burden of his conscience and he visited Meme in the bedroom where Fernanda kept her locked up, trusting that she would reveal to him the confidences that she owed him. But Meme denied everything. She was so sure of herself, so anchored in her solitude that Aureliano Segundo had the impression that no link existed between them anymore, that the comradeship and the complicity were nothing but an illusion of the past. He thought of speaking to Mauricio Babilonia, thinking that his authority as his former boss would make him desist from his plans, but Petra Cotes convinced him that it was a woman’s business, so he was left floating in a limbo of indecision, barely sustained by the hope that the confinement would put an end to his daughter’s troubles.

Meme showed no signs of affliction. On the contrary, from the next room Úrsula perceived the peaceful rhythm of her sleep, the serenity of her tasks, the order of her meals, and the good health of her digestion. The only thing that intrigued Úrsula after almost two months of punishment was that Meme did not take a bath in the morning like everyone else, but at seven in the evening. Once she thought of warning her about the scorpions, but Meme was so distant, convinced that she had given her away, that she preferred not to disturb her with the impertinences, of a great-great-grandmother. The yellow butterflies would invade the house at dusk. Every night on her way back from her bath Meme would find a desperate Fernanda killing butterflies with an insecticide bomb. “This is terrible,” she would say, “All my life they told me that butterflies at night bring bad luck.” One night while Meme was in the bathroom, Fernanda went into her bedroom by chance and there were so many butterflies that she could scarcely breathe. She grabbed for the nearest piece of cloth to shoo them away and her heart froze with terror as she connected her daughter’s evening baths with the mustard plasters that rolled onto the floor. She did not wait for an opportune moment as she had the first time. On the following day she invited the new mayor to lunch. Like her, he had come down from the highlands, and she asked him to station a guard in the backyard because she had the impression that hens were being stolen. That night the guard brought down Mauricio Babilonia as he was lifting up the tiles to get into the bathroom where Meme was waiting for him, naked and trembling with love among the scorpions and butterflies as she had done almost every night for the past few months. A bullet lodged in his spinal column reduced him to his bed for the rest of his life. He died of old age in solitude, without a moan, without a protest, without a single moment of betrayal, tormented by memories and by the yellow butterflies, who did not give him a moment’s peace, and ostracized as a chicken thief.

Gabriel García Márquez
One Hundred Years of Solitude

The Terror of Lust

“Don’t let yourself die without knowing the wonder of fucking with love.”
Gabriel García Márquez
Memories of My Melancholy Whores

 
 

Wasserschlangen I or Freundinnen I (Water Serpents I), 1904 Gustav Klimt’s painting on the book cover of the English version of 眠れる美女

 
 

House of the Sleeping Beauties is a 1961 novella by the Japanese author Yasunari Kawabata. A story about a lonely man, Old Eguchi, who continuously visits the House of the Sleeping Beauties in hope of something more. As the great Japanese writer Yukio Mishima expresses it perfectly in his introduction, this book is a pregnant reflection on ‘the terror of lust by the approach of death.’

Memories of My Melancholy Whores, Gabriel Garcia Márquez’s last written work, has some similarities to Kawabata’s short novel, which Marquez even quotes in the epigraph:

 

“He was not to do anything in bad taste, the woman of the house warned old Eguchi. He was not to put his finger into the mouth of the sleeping girl, or try anything else of that sort.”

 

Kawabata’s book is about an old man who watches sleeping young women and feels himself overwhelmed by desire for them. Marquez’s book is about an even older man who first desires a sleeping young woman, and then feels himself overwhelmed by platonic love. Thus, Marquez inverts Kawabata’s painful yearning into a sentimental fantasy.

And of course he replaces Kawabata’s old man with the typical Marquez protagonist. Marquez protagonists are men who invariably possess amazing virility, miraculous longevity, and larger-than-life charisma. They are never good-looking, but they can always get any woman they want. In this book, the protagonist explains that he had been with 514 different women by the age of fifty. It is also typical for Marquez to give the exact number. It’s not enough for his character to have had great success with the ladies, he has to have had exactly 514 of them. Marquez did this exact thing in Love In The Time Of Cholera, where Florentino Ariza filled some similarly huge number of notebooks with descriptions of his romantic conquests.

In 1982 Gabriel García Márquez wrote a story, Sleeping Beauty and the Airplane, in which Kawabata is specifically alluded to. Seated in the first-class cabin of an airplane crossing the Atlantic beside a young woman of extraordinary beauty who sleeps throughout the flight, García Márquez’s narrator is reminded of Kawabata’s novel. As a work of fiction the “Sleeping Beauty” story is undeveloped, no more than a sketch. Perhaps for this reason, García Márquez feels free to reuse its basic situation —the no longer young admirer side by side with the sleeping girl— in Memories of My Melancholy Whores.

House of the Sleeping Beauties is a study of the activities of eros in the mind of a sensualist of an intensive and self-aware kind, acutely—perhaps morbidly—sensitive to odors and fragrances and nuances of touch, absorbed by the physical uniqueness of the women he is intimate with, prone to brood on images from his sexual past, not afraid to confront the possibility that his attraction toward young women may screen desire for his own daughters, or that his obsession with women’s breasts may originate in infantile memories.

 
 

FILM ADAPTATIONS

 
 

Das Haus der schlafenden Schönen (Vadim Glowna, 2006)

 
 

Sleeping Beauty (Julia Leigh, 2011). The film is based in part on the novel House of the Sleeping Beauties. In writing the script, Leigh drew from several literary inspirations— Yasunari Kawabata’s novella; Memories of My Melancholy Whores by Gabriel Garcia Marquez; a story in The Bible in which King David as an old man spends the evening alongside sleeping virgins; and the eponymous fairytales by Charles Perrault and The Brothers Grimm. She also noted the phenomenon of images of sleeping girls on the internet, presumably in somnophilia pornography. Mia Wasikowska was originally cast as Lucy but she dropped out when offered the title role in the adaption of Jane Eyre.

Appearances Can Be Deceiving

Stills from Lisa the Skeptic (Directed by Neil Affleck and written by David X. Cohen)

 
 

Lisa the Skeptic is the eighth episode of The Simpsons‘ ninth season, first aired on November 23, 1997. On an archaeological dig with her class, Lisa discovers a skeleton that resembles an angel. All of the townspeople believe that the skeleton actually came from an angel, but skeptical Lisa attempts to persuade them that there must be a rational scientific explanation. The episode’s writer, David X. Cohen, developed the idea after visiting the American Museum of Natural History, and decided to loosely parallel themes from the Scopes Monkey Trial in Dayton, Tennessee, which dealt with issues of separation of church and state and the debate between creationism and evolution. The episode received generally positive reviews.

It has been discussed in the context of virtual reality, ontology, existentialism, and skepticism; it has also been used in Christian religious education classes to initiate discussion about angels, skepticism, science, and faith.

 
 

Un señor muy viejo con unas alas enormes (A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings), is a short story by author Gabriel García Márquez written in 1955. It was inspired by a young boy named Armand Tait and his life as a farmer.

 
 

A group of The Simpsons enthusiasts at Calvin College have also analyzed the religious and philosophical aspects of the episode, including the issue of faith versus science. The episode has been compared with Gabriel García Márquez’s short story A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings and utilized as a teaching tool in a Saugerties, New York grade school class. In an exam on the subject, students were asked to use details from both  A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings and Lisa the Skeptic, in order to analyze the quotation “Appearances can be deceiving”.

New Fidelity Following the Equator

Samuel Clemens at the sea traveling in a steamboat, 1895. Photographer unknown

 
 

Following The Equator which was published in 1897. It was Mark Twain‘s most elaborate travel book, with numerous illustrations, and, for the first time, photographs.

 
 

Samuel Clemens’ Pilot Certificate

 
 

Drawing by John Harley, illustrator of Life On The Mississippi.

 
 

“Do you know what it means to be a boy on the banks of the Mississippi, to see the steamboats go up and down the river, and never to have had a ride on one? Can you form any conception of what that really means? I think not. Well, I was seven years old and my dream by night and my longing by day had never been realized. But I guess it came to pass. That was my first vacation.”

Mark Twain

 
 

New Fidelity, steamboat from Love in the Time of Cholera (Mike Newell, 2008)

 
 

…In January 1824, Commodore Johann Bernard Elbers, the father of river navigation, had registered the first steamboat to sail the Magdalena River, a primitive old forty-horsepower wreck named Fidelity. More than a century later, one seventh of July at six o’clock in the evening, Dr. Urbino Daza and his wife accompanied Fermina Daza as she boarded the boat that was to carry her on her first river voyage. It was the first vessel built in the localshipyards and had been christened New Fidelity in memory of its glorious ancestor. Fermina Daza could never believe that so significant a name for them both was indeed a historical coincidence and not another conceit born of Florentino Ariza’s chronic romanticism…

Gabriel García Márquez

The Land of Forgetting

Graphic design by Carlos Vives himself. Illustrations by Jerry Lofaro

 
 

 
 

Vallenato is something of a musical melting pot, derived from various aspects of local history: the dominant instrument is the accordion, brought to South America by European immigrants. It’s accompanied by the small caja drum, which evolved from those once used by African slaves, and also by a notched stick scraped to provide percussion called the guacharaca, which originated with Colombia’s native population. The resulting music, first documented in the late 1800s, has come to define coastal Colombia almost as much as the works of author Gabriel García Márquez. In fact, the Nobel Prize winner is said to have described his epic novel, One Hundred Years of Solitude(Cien años de soledad), as a 400-page vallenato.

Vallenato used to be considered low-class music for field hands, rarely played outside Colombia’s cowboy country. But in recent years, Colombian singer Carlos Vives, among others, has fused vallenato with pop to create hits played across the Spanish-speaking world.

Love in the Time of Cholera (El amor en los tiempos del cólera) previous title was Crowned Goddess (La Diosa Coronada), as a tribute to a song composed by Leandro Díaz, whose intro appeared in the beginning of such novel:

“The words I am about to express they now have their own crowned goddess”

Leandro José Díaz Duarte (February 20, 1928 – June 22, 2013) was mostly known for his ability to compose very descriptive and narrative vallenato songs despite his blindness. He was born blind but that was not an impediment for him to develop a sense of the world he could not see.

As we read Love in the Time of Cholera we’ll notice that the main character Florentino Ariza refers to the object of his adoration, Fermina Daza, as a “crowned goddess” several times, and even composes a special waltz just for her with that term of endearment.

The story occurs mainly in Cartagena de Indias and towns near the Magdalena River. And it encompasses approximately the half century between 1880 and 1930. Some critics choose to consider Love in the Time of Cholera as a sentimental story about the enduring power of true love. Others criticize this opinion as being too simple.

This is manifested by Ariza’s excessively romantic attitude toward life, and his gullibility in trying to retrieve the sunken treasure of a shipwreck. It is also made evident by the fact that society in the story believes that Fermina and Juvenal Urbino are perfectly happy in their marriage, while the reality of the situation is not so ideal. Critic Keith Booker compares Ariza’s position to that of Humbert Humbert in Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita, saying that just as Humbert is able to charm the reader into sympathizing with his situation, even though he is a “pervert, a rapist, and a murderer”, Ariza is able to garner the reader’s sympathy, even though the reader is reminded repeatedly of his more sinister exploits.

García Márquez himself said in an interview, “you have to be careful not to fall into my trap”. The young love of Fermina Daza and Florentino Ariza is based on the love affair of García Márquez’s parents. However, as García Márquez explained: “The only difference is [my parents] married. And as soon as they were married, they were no longer interesting as literary figures.” The love of old people is based on a newspaper story about the death of two Americans, who were almost 80 years old, who met every year in Acapulco. They were out in a boat one day and were murdered by the boatman with his oars. García Márquez notes, “Through their death, the story of their secret romance became known. I was fascinated by them. They were each married to other people.”

García Márquez’s main notion is that lovesickness is literally an illness, a disease comparable to cholera. Ariza suffers from this just as he might suffer from any malady. At one point, he conflates his physical pain with his amorous pain when he vomits after eating flowers in order to imbibe Fermina’s scent. In the final chapter, the Captain’s declaration of metaphorical plague is another manifestation of this. The term cholera as it is used in Spanish, cólera, can also denote human rage and ire. (The English adjective choleric has the same meaning.) It is this second meaning to the title that manifests itself in Ariza’s hatred for Urbino’s marriage to Fermina, as well as in the social strife and warfare that serves as a backdrop to the entire story.

Stone Village Pictures bought the movie rights from the author for US$3 million, and Mike Newell was chosen to direct it, with Ronald Harwood writing the script. Filming started in Cartagena, Colombia, during September 2006. But this book is related to another movies and TV series. In the How I Met Your Mother episode The Magician’s Code, Ted describes Love in the Time of Cholera as his favorite book. A note is hidden in this book during a scene of Serendipity (Peter Chelsom, 2001). Also, in the 2000 film High Fidelity (Stephen Frears, 2000), John Cusack’s character states that he has read Love in the Time of Cholera as well as a number of other books and jokingly asks, “They’re about girls, right?”.

 
 

 
 

Ten years after the novel was published, Carlos Vives released his seventh album, The Land of Forgetting (La Tierra del Olvido). In 1993, backed by the band “La Provincia”, Vives released the album Clásicos de la Provincia in which he started fusing Vallenato with rock, pop and other Caribbean Colombian ethnic rhythms. This fusion scandalized Vallenato purists. For Vives, who was born in Magdalena (just like Garcia Márquez did), vallenato is similar to blues, rock and other rhythms which were developed around the Mississippi river and New Orleans. The title The Land of Forgetting alludes to a fragment of Love in the Time of Cholera:

“…The stench of the loads of salted catfish added to the loss of appetite caused by her grief, and eventually destroyed her habit of eating, and if she did not go mad with despair it was because she always found relief in the memory of Florentino Ariza. She did not doubt that this was the land of forgetting”.

Child Is The Father Of The Man

“Human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but … life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves.”

Gabriel García Márquez

 
 

Popeye and Friends (1911),  Photograph by Lewis Wickes Hine

 
 

Kate Moss with children. Photos by Bruce Weber

 
 

Drew Barrymore as scout by Mark Seliger

 
 

French kids imitate Dizzy Gillespie’s cheeks in Nice (France) by Milt Hinton, 1981

 
 

Bob Dylan and kids,  Liverpool, England, 1966. Barry Feinstein

 
 

Donovan. Photo credit: Chris Walter, circa 1965

 
 

Frank Zappa and Mothers of Invention. Art Kane, circa 1968

 
 

For this Life magazine session, Art Kane wanted to portray the musical group as a family and took the idea of mothers — and their babies — as a theme.  He gathered some of the musicians’ infants, then booked about thirty more from a modeling agency.  As soon as they began to shoot, one of the babies urinated, which inspired the others to do so as well, creating in Kane’s words, “the fountains of Rome.”

 
 

Brotherhood, Art Kane

 
 

Norman Rockwell at Oak Mountain School (Georgia)

Like Father… (Artists)

English author, critic and mountaineer Leslie Stephen and Virginia Woolf

 
 

Painter Lucian Freud with his daughter, fashion designer Bella Freud

 
 

Gerolamo “Gimmo” Etro, the brand’s founder and his four children: Jacopo (manages textiles, leather goods and the home collections), Kean (is responsible for the menswear collections) , Ippolito (the CEO) and Veronica (is responsible for the women’s collections).

 
 

Gabriel García Márquez, his wife Mercedes Barcha, alongside their sons Rodrigo (screenwriter, television and film director) and Gonzalo (graphic designer)

 
 

Spanish fashion designer Adolfo Dominguez and two of her three daughters

 
 

Tommy Hilfiger and His son Richard, a rapper who is known as Ricky Hil

 
 

Alex Bolen, her wife Eliza Bolen, Oscar de la Renta’s step-daughter, and Moisés de la Renta

 
 

Jerry Hall, Oscar De la Renta and his adopted child Moisés, who debuted his very first collection (a limited edition T-shirt line called MDLR for a Spanish chain) in 2010

 
 

Ralph Lauren, his wife Ricky and their children Andrew (film producer and actor), David (Senior Vice President, Advertising, Marketing and Corporate Communications at Polo Ralph Lauren) and Dylan (owner of Dylan’s Candy Bar, which claims to be the largest candy store in the world, based in New York City)

 
 

Pablo and Paloma Picasso

 
 

John and Anjelica Huston

 
 

Henry Fonda with his children Peter and Jane

 
 

Francis Ford Coppola, Sofia and Roman

 
 

Alain Delon and Anthony

 
 

Vincente Minelli and Liza. Photo: Bob Willoughby

 
 

Mel Ferrer with Audrey Hepburn Holding Newborn Sean

 
 

Alfred Hitchcock, Alma Reville and Patricia

 
 

Kelly Curtis, Jamie Leigh Curtis, Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh

 
 

de niro and his father Robert De Niro Sr. (painter) and Robert De Niro Jr.(actor)

 
 

Jaime Haven Voight, Angelina Jolie, and Jon Voight. Photo: Ron Galella

 
 

Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt and their blended family

 
 

Steve McQueen, Neile Adams, Terry Leslie and Chad

 
 

Jean Paul Belmondo and Patricia

 
 

Heath Ledger and Matilda

Swan’s Way

Blazon

For the Countess of Peralta

 
 

The snow-white Olympic swan,
with beak of rose-red agate,
preens his Eucharistic wing,
which he opens to the sun like a fan.

 

His shining neck is curved
like the arm of a lyre,
like the handle of a Greek amphora,
like the prow of a ship.

 

He is the swan of divine origin
whose kiss mounted through fields
of silk to the rosy peaks
of Leda’s sweet hills.

 

White king of of Castalia’s fount,
his triumph illumines the Danube;
Da Vinci was his baron in Italy;
Lohengrin is his blond prince.

 

His whiteness is akin to linen,
to the buds of the white roses,
to the diamantine white
of the fleece of an Easter lamb.

 

He is the poet of perfect verses,
and his lyric cloak is of ermine;
he is the magic, the regal bird
who, dying, rhymes the soul in his song.

 

This winged aristocrat displays
white lilies on a blue field;
and Pompadour, gracious and lovely,
has stroked his feathers.

 

He rows and rows on the lake
Where a golden gondola waits
For the sweetheart of Louis of Bavaria.

 

Countess, give the swans your love,
for they are gods of an alluring land
and are made of perfume and ermine,
of white light, of silk, and of dreams.

Ruben Darío

 
 

Photo: Bruce Weber

 
 

Carmen Dell’Orefice by Norman Parkinson, 1980

 
 

Swaroski logo

 
 

Bathyllus in the swan dance, Aubrey Beardsley

 
 

Henri Matisse making a study of a swan in the Bois de Boulogne, c. 1930

 
 

Advertisement illustrated by René Gruau

 
 

Illustration to Garcia Márquez’s short story Bon Voyage Mr. President, by Josie Portillo

 
 

Still from The Black Swan (Darren Aronofsky, 2010)

 
 

Anna Pavlova

 
 

Still from The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 (Bill Condon, 2011)

 
 

Helena Bonham Carter

 
 

Laetita Casta. Photo: Mario Testino

 
 

Uma Thurman and Mikahil Baryshnikov as The Swan Prince. Photo: Arthur Elgort

 
 

Truman Capote styled his beautiful and wealthy female friends “swans”

 
 

Accompained by Lee Radziwill and Jane Haward

 
 

With socialité Babe Paley in Paris

 
 

Escorting CZ Guest

 
 

Capote and Gloria Vanderbilt Lumet arrive at New York’s 54th Street Theatre for the opening performance of Caligula., 16 Feb 1960

 
 

Gloria Vanderbilt ad campaigns

 
 

Ludwig II (Luchino Visconti, 1972). He was sometimes called the Swan King

 
 

Mirror, Mirror (Tarsem Singh, 2012)

 
 

Robert Redford and Mia Farrow in The Great Gatsby (Jack Clayton, 1974)

 
 

Leonardo di Caprio. Photo: Annie Leibovitz

 
 

Madonna. Photo: David LaChapelle

 
 

David Bowie

 
 

Ad campaign featured in Vogue, January 1997

 
 

Tory Burch swan-print wedge sandalias

 
 

Swan Evening dress by Charles James, 1951

 
 

Kate Moss wearing a Givenchy gown by Ricardo Tisci, Spring-Summer collection 2011

 
 

Giles Deacon Spring-Summer 2012 collection

 
 

Erin O’Connor wearing a gown by Alexander McQueen. Photo: Tim Walker

 
 

Eglingham Children and Swan on Beach, Tim Walker, 2002

Where The Things Have No Name

Portrait of Pablo Neruda by Luis Xeiroto

 
 

“Before I loved you, Love, nothing was my own:

I wavered through the streets, among objects:

nothing mattered or had a name:

the world was made of air, which waited.”
 
SONNET XXV
Pablo Neruda

 
 

Illustration by John Tenniel

 
 

“This must be the wood,’ she said thoughtfully to herself, ‘where
things have no names. I wonder what’ll become of MY name when I go in?
I shouldn’t like to lose it at all–because they’d have to give me
another, and it would be almost certain to be an ugly one. But then
the fun would be trying to find the creature that had got my old
name! That’s just like the advertisements, you know, when people lose
dogs…”
 
Lewis Carroll. Through the Looking-Glass
CHAPTER III
Looking-Glass Insects

 
 

Last Tango in Paris (Bernardo Bertolucci, 1972)

 
 

“-I don’t know what to call you.

-I don’t have a name.

– Do you want to know mine?

– No, no! I don’t. I don’t want to know your name. You don’t have a name and I don’t have a name either. No one name.

-You’re crazy!

-Maybe I am, but I don’t want to know anything about you. I don’t wanna know where you live or where you come from. I wanna know nothing.

– You scare me.

– Nothing. You and I are gonna meet here without knowing anything that goes on outside here. OK?

-But why?

-Because… Because we don’t need names here. Don’t you see? We’re gonna forget… everything that we knew. Every… All the people,… all that we do,… wherever we live.

-We’re going to forget that, everything, everything.”
 
Dialogue between Paul (Marlon Brando) and Jeanne (Maria Schneider)

 
 

One Hundred Years of Solitude book cover by Ben Rothery- Penguin Design Awards 2011

 
 

“When Jose Arcadio Buendia realized that the plague had invaded the town, he gathered together the heads of families to explain to them what he knew about the sickness of insomnia, and they agreed on methods to prevent the scourge from spreading to other towns in the swamp. That was why they took the bells off the goats, bells that the Arabs had swapped them for macaws, and put them at the entrance to town at the disposal of those who would not listen to the advice and entreaties of the sentinels and insisted on visiting the town. All strangers who passed, through the streets of Macondo at that time had to ring their bells so that the sick people would know that they were healthy. They were not allowed to eat or drink anything during their stay, for there was no doubt but that the illness was transmitted by mouth, and all food and drink had been contaminated by insomnia. In that way they kept the plague restricted to the perimeter of the town. So effective was the quarantine that the day came when the emergency situation was accepted as a natural thing and life was organized in such a way that work picked up its rhythm again and no one worried any more about the useless habit of sleeping.

 
 

Illustration by Rodrigo Avilés

 
 

It was Aureliano who conceived the formula that was to protect them against loss of memory for several months. He discovered it by chance. An expert insomniac, having been one of the first, he had learned the art of silver work to perfection. One day he was looking for the small anvil that he used for laminating metals and he could not remember its name. His father told him: “Stake.” Aureliano wrote the name on a piece of paper that he pasted to the base of the small anvil: stake. In that way he was sure of not forgetting it in the future. It did not occur to him that this was the first manifestation of a loss of memory, because the object had a difficult name to remember. But a few days later he discovered that he had trouble remembering almost every object in the laboratory. Then he marked them with their respective names so that all he had to do was read the inscription in order to identify them. When his father told him about his alarm at having forgotten even the most impressive happenings of his childhood, Aureliano explained his method to him, and Jose Arcadio Buendia put it into practice all through the house and later on imposed it on the whole village. With an inked brush he marked everything with its name: table, chair; clock, door; wall, bed, pan. He went to the corral and marked the animals and plants: cow, goat, pig, hen, cassava, caladium, banana. Little by little, studying the infinite possibilities of a loss of memory, he realized that the day might come when things would be recognized by their inscriptions but that no one would remember their use. Then he was more explicit. The sign that he hung on the neck of the cow was an exemplary proof of the way in which the inhabitants of Macondo were prepared to fight against loss of memory: This is the cow. She must be milked every morning so that she will produce milk, and the milk must be boiled in order to be mixed with coffee to make coffee and milk. Thus they went on living in a reality that was slipping away, momentarily captured by words, but which would escape irremediably when they forgot the values of the written letters.”
 
Fragment taken from One Hundred Years of Solitude
Gabriel García Márquez

 
 

 

Magical Realism Illustrated

 

 

“…If anyone wants to find us it’ll be very easy”, she said with her natural charm. “All they have to do is follow the trail of my blood in the snow”. Then she thought more about what she had said, and her face blossomed in the first light of dawn.

 

-“Imagine”,she said. “A trail of blood in the snow all the way from Madrid to Paris. Wouldn’t that make a good song?”

 
“The Trail of Blood in the Snow”
 

 

 

 

 

“…A group of English tourists wearing shorts and beach sandals were dozing in a long row of easy chairs. There were seventeen of them, seated symmetrically, as if they were one man repeated over and over again in a hall of mirrors. Mrs. Prudencia Linero took them in at a single glance without distinguishing one from the other, and all that struck her was the long row of pink knees that looked like slabs of pork hanging from hooks in a butcher’s shop…”

 

“17 Poisoned Englishmen”


 

 

 

 

 

“…They did not need to look at one another to realize that  they were no longer all present, that they would never be. But they also knew  that everything would be different from then on, that their houses would have  wider doors, higher ceilings, and stronger floors so that Esteban’s memory could  go everywhere without bumping into beams and so that no one in the future would  dare whisper the big boob finally died, too bad, the handsome fool has finally  died, because they were going to paint their house fronts gay colors to  make Esteban’s memory eternal and they were going to break their backs digging  for springs among the stones and planting flowers on the cliffs so that in  future years at dawn the passengers on great liners would awaken, suffocated by  the smell of gardens on the high seas, and the captain would have to come  down from the bridge in his dress uniform, with his astrolabe, his pole star,  and his row of war medals and, pointing to the promontory of roses on the  horizon, he would say in fourteen languages, look there, where the wind is so  peaceful now that it’s gone to sleep beneath the beds, over there, where the  sun’s so bright that the sunflowers don’t know which way to turn, yes, over  there, that’s Esteban’s village.”

 

“The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World”

 

 

 

 

“…At three o’clock we left her to accompany Neruda to his sacred siesta, which he took in our house after solemn preparations that in some way recalled the Japanese tea ceremony. Some windows had to be opened and others closed to achieve the perfect degree of warmth, and there had to be a certain kind of light from a certain direction, and absolute silence…”

 
“I sell my dreams”

 

 

 

 

 

“He sat on a wooden bench under the yellow leaves in the deserted park, contemplating the dusty swans…”

 
“Bon Voyage, Mr. President”

 

 

Illustrations of Gabriel Garcia Márquez’s short stories by Josie Portillo