Gabriel Garcia Marquez, perhaps the greatest spanish writer ever after Miguel de Cervantes, died yesterday at the age of 87. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1982. Known for his “One Hundred Years of Solitude”, and also as the greatest exponent of “magic realism”, Marquez influenced world literature for almost three decades through 60’s to 90’s. Recognized as the “greatest Colombian ever” by the President of his native country, he lived three decades of his later life in Mexico. As his fictional world of ‘Macondo’ will live on on his pages for many more decades to come, where he died is perhaps not an issue of much importance, as where he chose to live, is obvious.
He was left by his parents when he was just five with his maternal grand parents who brought him up. His grand father, a retired army man, told him all about world politics, wars and about other real things of life. Whereas his grand mother brought him up with the traditional folk tales of Colombia,
stories of fantasy, adventure and another world. His later literary style, Magic Realism perhaps took it’s birth here.
Marquez started his life as a journalist, film critic, published his first fictional writing “Leaf Storm”, a novella in 1955. After a couple of smaller works, in 1967, his magnum opus “One Hundred Years of Solitude” came out. The novel spans several generations of Buendia family, portraying the life and times of years of his growing up in his grand parents village. His style found it’s zenith in this novel which continued for several years more. He published about six novels, four novellas, few story collections and non-fiction. “Love in the Time of Cholera”, “Chronicle of a Death Foretold”, “Memories of My Melancholy Whores” are his other well known works. Several of his novels, stories are adapted into films, he himself wrote screenplays too. He was awarded the Neustadt International Prize for Literature in 1972, Nobel in 1982 and several more awards and recognitions.
Marquez was a close friend of Fidel Castro. He had been ill for sometime, said to have suffered from Alzheimers, cancer, lung infections and urinary tract infections before finally succumbing yesterday, leaving his wife Mercedes Barch and two sons behind.
Marquez wrote a farewell letter after he retired from active life in which he expressed his attachment with life, family, friends, fellow human beings etc. Read the letter in full here….
by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
For reasons of health, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Colombia’s illustrious Nobel Laureate for literature, has declared his retirement from public life. He has terminal cancer and sends this letter of farewell to friends and lovers of literature.
If God, for a second, forgot what I have become and granted me a little bit more of life, I would use it to the best of my ability.
I wouldn’t, possibly, say everything that is in my mind, but I would be more thoughtful l of all I say.
I would give merit to things not for what they are worth, but for what they mean to express.
I would sleep little, I would dream more, because I know that for every minute that we close our eyes, we waste 60 seconds of light.
I would walk while others stop; I would awake while others sleep.
If God would give me a little bit more of life, I would dress in a simple manner, I would place myself in front of the sun, leaving not only my body, but my soul naked at its mercy.
To all men, I would say how mistaken they are when they think that they stop falling in love when they grow old, without knowing that they grow old when they stop falling in love.
I would give wings to children, but I would leave it to them to learn how to fly by themselves.
To old people I would say that death doesn’t arrive when they grow old, but with forgetfulness.
I have learned so much with you all, I have learned that everybody wants to live on top of the mountain, without knowing that true happiness is obtained in the journey taken & the form used to reach the top of the hill.
I have learned that when a newborn baby holds, with its little hand, his father’s finger, it has trapped him for the rest of his life.
I have learned that a man has the right and obligation to look down at another man, only when that man needs help to get up from the ground.
Say always what you feel, not what you think. If I knew that today is the last time that that I am going to see you asleep, I would hug you with all my strength and I would pray to the Lord to let me be the guardian angel of your soul.
If I knew that these are the last moments to see you, I would say “I love you.”
There is always tomorrow, and life gives us another opportunity to do things right, but in case I am wrong, and today is all that is left to me, I would love to tell you how much I love you & that I will never forget you.
Tomorrow is never guaranteed to anyone, young or old. Today could be the last time to see your loved ones, which is why you mustn’t wait; do it today, in case tomorrow never arrives. I am sure you will be sorry you wasted the opportunity today to give a smile, a hug, a kiss, and that you were too busy to grant them their last wish.
Keep your loved ones near you; tell them in their ears and to their faces how much you need them and love them. Love them and treat them well; take your time to tell them “I am sorry,” “forgive me, “please,” “thank you,” and all those loving words you know.
Nobody will know you for your secret thought. Ask the Lord for wisdom and strength to express them.
Show your friends and loved ones how important they are to you.
Send this letter to those you love. If you don’t do it today…tomorrow will be like yesterday, and if you never do it, it doesn’t matter either, the moment to do it is now.
For you, with much love,
Gabriel Garcia Marquez