SugarHouse Mama

Monday, July 21, 2008

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

I recently finished Love in the Time of Cholera. It was pretty good -mostly I love the way Marquez writes, weaving stories together. His writing style so closely connects the characters that you can't help but understand the relationship of the characters. I think, more than any other writer he beautifully and effectively binds the characters' lives and displays the inter-connectedness of life - the delicate way our lives join together, weaving in and out - that 'thing' that binds us all to each other.

Still, my favorite Marquez novel is One Hundred Years of Solitude.

But back to LitToC. What is most fascinating to me is the novel's discussion of love: what is love, what is true love, can two people create true love or is it something we have no control over? How is love manifested? What is fidelity? Is there a difference between emotional fidelity and physical fidelity? How does love fit into 'real life'?

I don't think there are any hard and fast answers to those questions, but that's the point of great literature, isn't it? I haven't seen the recent film adaptation, but from what I have seen of it, I get the feeling that I wouldn't like it. I think it simplifies the story. I think it glorifies Florentino as a true representation of love. From what I've come to understand about Marquez and his writing, that's too simple.

The basic story line is a nice, sweet enticement. Florentino's pretty prose and ideals of love don't hold any substance and he seems to contradict himself many times throughout the book. He picks and chooses which laws of love he will follow and then creates fantastical arguments to support his actions. He clearly lies to himself and the woman he loves. (A side note: it seems to me that Florentino is the only person in the novel who believes in 'true love'. And, his definition of love is based almost solely on romantic stories and poems. Literature created his world and influenced all his choices. Another interesting topic that I don't have room to explore).

Instead, I think Marquez sets up the characters - every character in the book, in fact - as a person who falls somewhere along the line. Each has a different definition of love. Each will sacrifice certain things in the name of love (and some sacrifice love for other things). I think the novel is more an examination of what happens to people along the way - depending on what they are willing to sacrifice. It doesn't seem to be just a pretty story about waiting 51 years, 9 months, and 4 days for the chance to declare love, but rather who sacrificed what during that time. All in the name of love. And then the reader is left to decide if it was worth it.

So. What would you sacrifice for love? And what would you sacrifice love for? Does your answer change depending on the person (child, spouse, parent, etc.)?

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