The critically acclaimed and beloved author Gabriel García Márquez, 87, died today. Unlike his contemporaries, he didn’t pen much about being an expat, but he did write about strong women. His masterpieces contemplated heroines, and he knew how to traffic in the details of their characters. Márquez grabs you by the throat and flings you into his world, where he weaves his story with lines that tug at your stomach and leave mysterious impressions. His women stay with you hours later, like they’re written in invisible ink. Were his works sexist? Yes, on the surface, because they also throw you into a patriarchal society of men who are ambiguously villainous and women who are part subservient — and also much this society’s backbone. Here are six beautiful, rhapsodic excerpts worth poring over.
1. From 100 Days Of Solitude, “One of These Days” (A description of Ursula, the most important female character and the moral conscience of the novel, who yeah, was married to her cousin.)
Úrsula’s capacity for work was the same as that of her husband. Active, small, severe, that woman of unbreakable nerves who at no moment in her life had been heard to sing seemed to be everywhere, from dawn until quite late at night, always pursued by the soft whispering of her stiff, starched petticoats. Thanks to her the floors of tamped earth, the unwhitewashed mud walls, the rustic, wooden furniture they had built themselves were always clean, and the old chests where they kept their clothes exhaled the warm smell of basil.
2. As part of the conversations between Gabriel García Márquez and Plinio Apuleyo Mendoza, in The Fragrance of Guava, Marquez speaks about his wife Mercedes Barcha, who he met in college, and puts his own spin on the “behind every great man…” theory.
“All through my life there has always been a woman to take me by the hand and lead me through the confusion of existence, which women understand better than men… I think nothing awful can happen to me if I’m with women. They make me feel secure. Without this security I couldn’t have done half the worthwhile things I’ve done in my life…”
3. From Love In The Time of Cholera (From his most popular novel, about the seductive and flawed Fermina Daza.)
“To him she seemed so beautiful, so seductive, so different from ordinary people, that he could not understand why no one was as disturbed as he by the clicking of her heels on the paving stones, why no one else’s heart was wild with the breeze stirred by the sighs of her veils, why everyone did not go mad with the movements of her braid, the flight of her hands, the gold of her laughter. He had not missed a single one of her gestures, not one of the indications of her character, but he did not dare approach her for fear of destroying the spell.”
4. From Love in the Time of Cholera (Dr. Urbino doles out some no-bullshit truths on marriage in years.)
“The problem with marriage is that it ends every night after making love, and it must be rebuilt every morning before breakfast.”
5. From Love in the Time of Cholera (The mythic feminine beauty, and blue balls. Florentino’s backwards ideas about women lead him to think he’s got Sara Noriega in the bag — or, rather, the sack. But Sara Noriega rejects him and he goes home humiliated.
“In less bitter circumstances he would have persisted in his pursuit of Sara Noriega, certain of ending the evening rolling in bed with her, for he convinced that once a woman goes to bed with a man, she will continue to go to bed with him whenever he desires, as long as he knows how to move her to passion each time.”
6. From Love in the Time of Cholera (When a man wants a woman…)
“But when a woman decides to sleep with a man, there is no wall she will not scale, no fortress she will not destroy, no moral consideration she will not ignore at its very root: there is no God worth worrying about it.”
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