His stories are mythical portraits of real-life Latin America. He is a revealer of human truths — one who chronicles oppression, magic, miracles and love.
It was over a year ago when I first introduced my students to renowned Boom writer and political journalist of the 1960s-70s, Gabriel García Márquez. During this time, we would wander through Buenos Aires’ bookstores, trying to get a feel for the Latin literary spirit. In our search for vivid prose, magical realism and machismo mentalities, we read both Love in the Time of Cholera and Chronicle of a Death Foretold — two of Márquez’ timeless novels.
Márquez took us beyond history’s narrative and taught us about a 20th century Latin America we could only experience viscerally. Some students were enthralled by his dense imagery, while others were perplexed by his non-linear narrative structure. We’ve spent the past year analyzing his stylistic creations and making assumptions about what Márquez intended readers to feel — an exercise students deemed as worthwhile as it was futile.
And now, only a few days after his passing, I sit here contemplating the loss of this exiled soul; our teacher of courage, who will now live only through the strength of his written word. I wonder about the transient nature of life and the timelessness of literature. How can stories leave us nostalgic for towns never explored, people never met, grief untapped, love untamed? The impermanence of life, beautifully and strangely juxtaposed against the permanence of story life.
My students, sometimes passionately and sometimes wearily, debate these ideas to no end. What literature is worthy of study and why? Are implicit lessons of pride, honor and humility learned? Can we know a man through his fiction? Are hate and love “reciprocal passions?” Is there more truth to story-truth than happening-truth? While we labor over these questions routinely, it isn’t until we are challenged to memorialize a passed writer that we are reminded of the permanence and power of our own words. Literature is remembrance shelved. The discussion of literature is remembrance explored.
As I hold Márquez’ novel now, I sense a small shift in the universe. A gentle reminder of entropy and legacy, of love and loss.
To celebrate Márquez as our teacher, we’ve taken pages from Chronicle of a Death Foretold and created blackout poems to reveal enchanting sentiments found within his work. Thank you, maestro; master of magic; keeper of words; stealer of time. May your tales of truth forever stir and linger.
You can find the blackout poems below:
Learn more about Breanna’s unit on Argentina and its boom writers in the clip below:
Watch “A Chronicle of a Death Foretold” — a short silent film by the students of THINK Global School