Gabo, the library of a traveler


Many thanks to Peter Jordens for sharing the link to this charming article on Gabriel García Márquez by Bhavi Mandalia. Below are excerpts; to read the full article, go to PledgeTimes:

A yellow rose, a dictionary, and a typewriter. It is everything Gabriel García Márquez (Aracataca, Colombia, 1927-Mexico City, 2014) needed to get going. At the age of eight, his grandfather told him that yellow flowers were lucky and he was never separated from them again. During the awarding of the Nobel (1982), he had one hidden in his pocket. Gabo considered himself “a dictator”, although his relationship with the encyclopedias was one of love and hate. In 1977, he prefaced an edition of María Moliner, his favorite. But at the same time, he invented words: “condolescent”, “rocking”. It was even proposed to retire the spelling, especially that “rock h”.

He also declared war on typewriters. His first Remington burned in the fire of the Bogotazo riots in 1948. A decade later, the machine he conceived in Paris The colonel has no one to write to him I had lost the d key on the way. In order to finish the text, he had to manage by completing each hand with a vertical stick. Later he bought a German Torpedo and an electric Smith Corona. Thus, until the crush on Apple. An eMac from the early 2000s, a retro-futuristic cucumber-shaped white computer, still sits on the workbench at her home in Mexico City.

[. . .] Still, Gonzalo García continues searching through the titles on the wall. And there is a 1972 edition of the Ulises by James Joyce, that “overwhelming monstrosity”, as a twenty-something Gabo called it in his memoirs. Copies of The day of the Jackal or The Count of Monte Cristo. “My father always fled from solemnity and never made a distinction between what is called high and low culture, he grabbed what he could from all sides,” explains his son about his well-known popular vein. His personal librarian also has a complementary theory: “This is not the library of a collector or someone who had the opportunity to save their first books. Rather, it is the library of a traveler who has settled permanently in Mexico”. [. . .]

The vallenato

What Gabo never lacked in any of his stages was vallenato, his favorite music. So much so that he liked to say that “One hundred years of loneliness it is nothing more than a 450-page vallenato”. His friends sent him tapes from the Colombian Caribbean. Some are still here, along with Rocío Jurado, Perales, Manzanero or Sabina. The study of the Mexican house, a wide white brick corridor in the shape of an L, has the walls converted into bookshelves. Accompanying the books are also sofas and armchairs and tables to rest and chat. This library was Gabo’s working bunker in the mornings. In the afternoons, the center of operations for many parties. “He always had a well-endowed bar,” recalls his son. Fidel Castro, Sean Penn or Silvio Rodríguez were some of the many and illustrious visits. When the party was between writers, they pretended that one of them began to recite a verse by Lorca, or by some Spanish poet of the Golden Age, and the others had to continue with the stanza.

A giant copy of the portrait that Richard Avedon made of him in the seventies rules one of the walls. More photos: his children, his wife, his parents, Hemingway, Gabo with Rulfo, with Felipe González, with Bill Clinton. Historical figures were also characters in his novels. Portrayed with mathematical rigor, perhaps heir to his journalistic pedigree. For The general in his labyrinth, which narrates the last days of Simón Bolívar, Gabo immersed himself thoroughly in the 34 volumes of the memoirs of Daniel Florencio O’Leary, the Irish general who accompanied the liberator to his grave. He would return again and again to historical sources, many times simply to confirm the plausibility of a scene. For example, when he wanted to describe the general eating a piece of mango and went to see if, at the beginning of the 19th century, mango cultivation had already reached present-day Colombia. [. . .]

For original article, see

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