Title: The General in His Labyrinth
Author: Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Release Date: March 6th, 2014 (first published 1989)
Page Count: 304 pages
Status: Read from October 21 to 29, 2014
Genre: Historical Fiction, Classic, Latin American Literature.
Bolivar, known in six Latin American countries as the Liberator, is one of the most revered heroes of the western hemisphere; in Garcìa Màrquez’s brilliant reimagining he is magnificently flawed as well. The novel follows Bolivar as he takes his final journey in 1830 down the Magdalena River toward the sea, revisiting the scenes of his former glory and lamenting his lost dream of an alliance of American nations.
Forced from power, dogged by assassins, and prematurely aged and wasted by a fatal illness, the General is still a remarkably vital and mercurial man. He seems to remain alive by the sheer force of will that led him to so many victories in the battlefields and love affairs of his past. As he wanders in the labyrinth of his failing powers and still-powerful memories he defies his impending death until the last.
If you have read Looking for Alaska, you must be familiar with the title. In fact, thanks to Alaska I came with this title for posbar BBI this month. This novel first published in 1989, the year I was born to the world. BUT the General, Simon Bolivar, has been in the history for the past a hundred and eighty years. Latin American people, must have known him for he’s El Libertador.
Actually, its not Marquez who’s going to write Simon’s Bolivar last voyage but Alvaro Mutis. Since there’s no sign that the plan’s going to be executed, Marquez asked Alvaro Mutis’s permission for him to write it himself. Voila, The General in His Labyrinth born and been existed in this world for 25 years.
The interesting thing about the General was, like the synopsis had said it, despite every fall he’s going through he’s still a remarkable man. And in this novel, Marquez has his way to make me sentimental and melancholic reading his beautiful narration.
Espinosa’s portrait resembled no one but him, wasted at the age of forty-five by the disease he did everything to hide, even from himself, until the eve of his death.
I have my pity for the General. Every people surrounding him in his last days, did. He has the face of a dead man, they said. Yet he denied his weak body and keep his charm as charismatic leader along the last voyage. Again, I should say that Marquez has done a great job in putting us reader in the General position so we would and we could feel his sorrow though at the same time, we knew that he was a great man.
December 10: he dictated his last will and testament. When the physician insists that he confess and receive the sacraments, Bolivar says: “What does this mean? … Can I be so ill that you talk to me of wills and confession? … How will I ever get out of this labyrinth?”
*taken from Brief Chronology of Simon Bolivar’s life
And what exactly the labyrinth was?
“Its not life or death, the labyrinth.”
“Um, okay. So what is it?”
“Suffering,” she said. “Doing wrong and having wrong things happen to you. That’s the problem. Bolivar was talking about the pain, not about the living or dying. How do you get out of the labyrinth of suffering?”
*Looking for Alaska
I, too, figured it out just as Alaska realized it. The General suffered the rejection, the disease, the inability to be greater than he already was because nature has stopped him and he struggled not to give up.