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Love in the Time of Cholera


SlowRain
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(There are some slight spoilers in this for Romeo and Juliet, not Love in the Time of Cholera)

 

What is the greatest love story ever written? Of course it's Romeo and Juliet one mechanically replies. Why? Because someone said so. But, Why? you may ask again. And that is the question: What makes Romeo and Juliet--a story of infatuation, adolescent rebellion, miscommunication, misunderstanding, and suicide--the greatest love story ever?

 

Until recently, I would have stayed out of such a discussion, mainly because I don't read anything of a romantic nature. But then I picked up Love in the Time of Cholera. The story, spanning over fifty years, is about a young man and girl who fall in love, much to the disapproval of her father. After some time, the girl decides to marry a young doctor. The rest is the story of the lives of all three of them. In this very compelling tale, love is described from all aspects: infatuation, rejection, marriage, endurance, security, waiting, infidelity, old age, adultery, licentiousness, second chances.

 

García Márquez's narrative style is rich and lush, often populated with colorful anecdotes and digressions, but always on topic. He knows how to describe a house, the household, the routines, the problems, the characteristics, then expand that out to include the neighborhood, the city, and the country. Everything on the page easily flows into the reader's mind, and we are immersed and left under his spell. We have experienced another culture in another time, visited another country, and lived others' lives, all in the time it takes to flip the pages.

 

It is a beautiful and gentle book, very broad in its subject matter, yet poignant in accomplishing its purpose. Love is wonderfully and fully discussed for what it really is; Romeo and Juliet, that tale of infatuation that has dominated the literary landscape for centuries, can't even begin to scratch the surface of a work like this. I highly recommend it.

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Of the three main characters--Florentino Ariza, Fermina Daza, and Dr. Juvenal Urbino--I probably liked Florentino the least and the doctor the best, but even the doctor didn't have me doing somersaults, nor did Florentino have me gritting my teeth. I felt all of them brought something of great value to the discussion of love, and to change anything about their personalities, in an effort to make them more sympathetic, would have been to omit something from the discussion. We're meant to feel unsympathetic towards some of their actions, because, while the story does feel like a fairy tale at times, the heart and soul of it is very real, and with reality comes the good and the bad. Being unsympathetic towards an entire character in this story would be tantamount to being unsympathetic towards ourselves, our family, our friends, and humanity as a whole, as no single character was portrayed as the personification of evil or anything. I think the reader understands the characters, and I think the reader knows why the characters did certain things, and I think the reader knows which actions were appropriate and which were inappropriate. I didn't necessarily have to like the characters to enjoy what García Márquez was saying about love, and I think the lessons from this novel are quite universal.

 

In addition to my initial comments, I also think it would be a misnomer to classify this solely as a novel; it is as much a treatise on love as it is a story. The characters are portrayed the way they are to ensure that every facet of love is covered in the discussion from every possible angle.

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I wouldn't agree that being unsympathetic to the characters is the same as being unsympathetic to humanity as a whole. I just didn't like the characters; therefore, I wasn't particularly bothered about what happened to them. I also don't think a lack of sympathy for the characters equates to a belief that they are evil personified. Perhaps sympathy is not the right word to use, but I never felt attached to them in the way I feel attached to characters in other books. I didn't feel an affinity or wngage with them.

 

I think like or dislike of a book ultimately comes down to the author's style and the reader's preference. This isn't a book I would read again for a number of reasons: I found Florentino quite misogynistic at times and I can't abide that in a book; I also felt there were a few diversions that distracted me and didn't add to the story, and I didn't like the melodramatic style. I had some similar problems while reading The Shadow of the Wind and I felt that perhaps it was to do with cultural differences. Perhaps Latin men's writing about love doesn't suit my sensibilities.

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I don't think liking the characters is necessary to liking any book. I didn't like any of the four main characters in The Human Stain by Philip Roth, but I loved that novel, too. Even Great Expectations by Charles Dickens had some pretty unlikable characters, Jack Maggs by Peter Carey, too. However, we can learn so much about humanity from these kinds of novels. Understanding the characters and knowing their faults is much more important. Plus, we're none of us perfect, so if we can't objectively look at the failings of others in Literature, then we'll go through our lives not liking most of the people around us. If we can make allowances for most of the people around us in life, it should be no problem to extend the same when analyzing characters in Literature.

 

I can understand your comment about not being attached to the characters; I do feel that they were kept at a certain distance from us. Perhaps that was to enhance the discussion of love over the individual; perhaps that was to make them more universal so that the reader could see a little bit of themselves in them; perhaps it was because it was a novel based more on the situations rather than the characters.

 

I also agree that this comes close to melodrama. I personally didn't think it went that far (or else I liked this brand of melodrama), but your comment is certainly a fair one.

 

The only other point that I disagree with is that Florentino was a misogynist. I think he was a hopeless romantic and felt a certain kind of affection for all of the 622 women he had affairs with. I don't think he treated them poorly or harshly.

 

Try looking at the novel as an exploration and examination of love as a whole, and not what a certain character did and whether or not you liked him or her. I think that's how the author intended it.

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It's not necessary to like the characters, but it helps to like at least one, and I need to feel some kind of affinity in order to understand where they're coming from and why they do what they do. I suppose I just don't 'get' them in this book. Florentino and his 622 women (that many?!) is an example - why have all those affairs if he's so in love with this one woman? Real love would be not finding so many short-term replacements for her. Perhaps misogyny is not the best choice of words (again), but he uses women, even if he does have some form of affection for them, and that's what bothers me. I'm sorry, but I can't make allowances for that.

 

I didn't see any of myself in the characters, but I think this novel comes from a culture that treats men and women very differently from what I'm used to and it just doesn't sit well with me.

 

I've read stories about love where I did engage with the characters and felt closer to the story, but I don't think meaning is universal: a book makes meaning for individual readers in different ways and once it's out in the world, what a reader interprets supersedes what the author intended. To be honest, I think there are better explorations of love out there.

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Florentino's affairs are like an alcoholic with booze: a means of drowning sorrows and very difficult to stop--it's an addiction, or at least a craving, for him. Also, is it real love that Florentino feels for Fermina during the time of the 622 affairs? Remember, this novel is about all facets of love--infatuation and looking for love in all the wrong places are both attributes associated with the concept of love. I think García Márquez is trying to offer cautions on both.

 

Yes, Florentino does use women, to an extent, but those women--mostly widows--use him to an equal extent and they know what they are getting into, therefore he is not causing them any emotional harm. If you feel anger towards his treatment of them, you should be equally angry of how they treat him. There is only one case where a girl is hurt, but that's another facet of this thing called love, isn't it? You're right to dislike his actions in that particular situation, but you have to treat all of his actions as separate and distinct: isolate each one and analyze it irrespective of the others.

 

Again, try to put less emphasis on the characters as a whole and look at each individual action to see how it relates to the concept of love.

 

I also disagree with the concept that the readers' interpretations supersede the author's intentions. By following that reasoning, I could easily (mis)interpret this novel as a discussion on fate, and no one can tell me that I'm wrong, because my interpretation--misguided and erroneous as it is--is somehow correct in my own little world. García Márquez had a purpose when writing this novel--a discussion of love--and I think he accomplished it quite well.

 

However, I'd be interested to read a few other novels that discuss love (not right away, you understand, but over time). What are some other stories that you can recommend which explore the concept of love better than this one does?

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I don't think any interpretation is wrong. It might be misguided, but only if you define your interpretation as the definitive one without accepting that there are other interpretations out there. Most people, when they read, don't analyse or interpret very far into the story: they read for pleasure, so I think you'll have a hard time convincing them that what they get from a story is wrong. People don't have to agree with an author's intention, and there is also the possibility that an author's intention is only ever really known to the author and discussing what he or she 'meant' is not going to uncover the 'truth' about a book. I still believe that the reader makes his or her own truth.

 

I take your point about feeling angry at the women's treatment of Florentino also, but we still, to a large extent, live in a world where women suffer at the hands of men and to perpetuate that, in any form, in literature makes me very angry.

 

Books about love? Well, I've always thought that women write about love better than men. I have read books by men which claim to be about love, but are really about sex (I include this book and The Shadow of the Wind in this assessment), but women, I think, are more tuned in to what love really is. I'm pretty sure we're not going to agree on that, but I would say that some books that explore concepts of love are Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, The Awakening; Sense and Sensibility. These aren't solely about love, apart from The Awakening by Kate Chopin, but they do explore relationships, both good and bad. I think The Time Traveller's Wife, despite its faults, is a good book about love. There are more modern ones I've read, but I'd need to think some more.

 

Ultimately, though, I think our tastes are very different in this regard, SlowRain. I probably lean more towards romance, and I'll admit that freely! I think enjoyment, or lack thereof, of this book really comes down to what love is for you, and Marquez's depiction doesn't fit with what love means for me.

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I agree that it is harder to enjoy a book if you don’t like any of the characters. Personally, if I can at least manage to understand them or their motivations then that is usually enough.

 

Having said that; I liked and empathised with all three of the main players in this book. I think this is one of the most beautiful and poignant love stories ever told.

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I agree that it is harder to enjoy a book if you don’t like any of the characters. Personally, if I can at least manage to understand them or their motivations then that is usually enough.

 

Having said that; I liked and empathised with all three of the main players in this book. I think this is one of the most beautiful and poignant love stories ever told.

I could not have put this better, tagesmann. I loved this book and it's one of a few that I would re-read.
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In Stephen Holden's review of the movie Love in the Time of Cholera for the New York Times, he categorizes the novel as magical realism. Now I'm not too familiar with this genre (sub-genre?), but what makes this novel magical realism? I did a quick look on Wikipedia, but I still don't understand why he classified it this way.

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I finished "Love in the Time of Cholera" over the weekend.

 

Although, for me, this had the qualities that made "One Hundred Years of Solitude", the only other Marquez novel I've read, such a delight, I found it much harder going, despite still having Marquez's hallmarks such as the meandering, light hearted style which attracted me to his writing in the first place. I'd struggle to tell you why that was; maybe I just wasn't in the right mood for it. I liked Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza, although, like SlowRain, my favourite character was Dr. Juvenal Urbino.

 

As to your question about what magical realism is, SlowRain, I've not read the Wikipedia entry but my own definition is that it describes a novel where the setting and characters are realistic but magical, supernatural things happen, and the characters accept these events as if they were normal, as opposed to a fantasy novel, where the setting is not based in reality and there may be fantastical characters (elves etc) .

 

I'd say this novel is less obviously an example of magic realism than "One Hundred Years of Solitude" where, by my calculation, the Buendia family matriarch must be about 200 years old by the end of the novel.

 

I've never seen the term ascribed to any non-Latin American writer, although authors from elsewhere such as Haruki Murakami write novels that would fit my definition. I find reviewers tend to lazily group most writers and novels from this part of the world under that heading.

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  • 1 month later...

an excellent read.

 

personally i really liked the characther of florentino ariza. as a whole the novel i liked

 

it also served as a good conversation piece between me and a girl in easons when i saw her looking at books by garcia marquez and she said how much she enjoyed it and we had a conversation about the book there

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  • 4 months later...
  • 2 weeks later...

When I finished LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA I said, "WOW"

For me it worked on so many levels: love story, human frailty, 'heat', relationships, memories, and a host of other emotions. I read it when it came out so that was a long time ago and I truthfully don't remember more than the impression it made upon me ... and I can't get to the book to look it at now.

Nevertheless I find the discussion fascinating and thought provoking. It also raises other questions ... like a daisy chain. For example you have addressed some of them in the exchange about 'liking' or 'identifying' with a character. This would apply to any book and is I think a personal way of relating in the world. Not good/Not bad ... just is who one is. Some other good arguments too IMHO.

 

I think we cannot forget that when we are reading anything foreign to our personal world/the world as we see it, we really have to stretch our belief system. If we read about aristocrats or peasants or magical realism or slipstream or war novels et.al. we must put them in context and time frame as well as their country's 'personality' with its good and bad elements. HOpefully when American books are translated into other languages our writers are given the same respect.

 

'Nuff for now ... eager to continue discussion. :)

 

 

What is Magical Realism?

Isabel Allende said, "Let's first begin by defining "Magical Realism". Magical Realism is a genre that combines realitiy and surreality onto the same plane. Many people confuse this genre with Science Fiction so let me give you a quick example that highlights the difference between the two:

 

"She ascended to heaven". That's science fiction because the phenomenon of a person rising to heaven is entirely extraordinary.

 

"She ascended to heaven wrapped a flickering flame of silk sheets". Now that's magical realism because the silk sheets offer a mysterious explanation as to why and how this woman is floating to heaven. With such vivid imagery and tangible reality, what WAS extraordinary now seems to be much more plausible, although the explanation for it is illogical and strange.

 

Magical realism, therefore, is a perfect device for expressing a reality that is rich and complex. Personally, however, I don't like how critics came up with this term because I believe that magical occurences in everyday life is not so implausible so to assign a special term for is is quite discouraging."

 

____________________________________________________

In magical realism we find the transformation of the common and the everyday into the awesome and the unreal. It is predominantly an art of surprises. Time exists in a kind of timeless fluidity and the unreal happens as part of reality. Once the reader accepts the fait accompli, the rest follows with logical precision. (Angel Flores, Magical Realism in Spanish American Fiction. Magical Realism. Ed. Zamora and Faris, p. 113-116).

 

What is MagicalRealism.com?

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Florentino's affairs are like an alcoholic with booze: a means of drowning sorrows and very difficult to stop--it's an addiction, or at least a craving, for him. Also, is it real love that Florentino feels for Fermina during the time of the 622 affairs? Remember, this novel is about all facets of love--infatuation and looking for love in all the wrong places are both attributes associated with the concept of love.

 

Don't forget the culture that is portrayed in this book. Without my taking any side I think that reading a book by and about anything foreign to our mileiu means we have to remember not to impose our cultural mores onto the characters or storyline. Florentino's affairs do not reflect how he feels about Fermina, it reflects on his alcoholism, personality deficits, exageration, ego and culture ... remember the HS boys we all knew who used to put notches on their belt?

And in this culture women, whether we like it or not, expect their men to 'be' with other women. Sometimes they are even grateful, for it gives them peace. It used to be a form of birth control and in some countries it still is.

 

 

I also disagree with the concept that the readers' interpretations supersede the author's intentions. By following that reasoning, I could easily (mis)interpret this novel as a discussion on fate, and no one can tell me that I'm wrong, because my interpretation--misguided and erroneous as it is--is somehow correct in my own little world. García Márquez had a purpose when writing this novel--a discussion of love--and I think he accomplished it quite well.

 

SlowRain I have to disagree with you on this issue. Most writers will tell you that 1) their characters wrote the book and did what they wanted; 2) once they are finished with the final copy the book no longer is theirs ... it now lies in the minds of those who read it; 3) they don't want to restrict a reader's imagination or interpretation or understanding by imposing their 'purpose' since they disengage from the work once we get to it; 4) some themes are universal and if we know them we can better understand the narrative, plot and actions of characters, other themes are rooted in a specific culture or about a specific moral conflict that may differ for various reasons; 5) and to quote Doris Lessing who was asked over and over what this or that meant in her work ... she got so annoyed with this question her answer became rote: you read, you figure it out, I don't know the answer <I paraphrase of course) John Fowles said the same thing about his work which also has unconventional events ... such as putting himself as John Fowles into the narrative ... huh? LOL LOL LOL

 

I want to give you one more bit of Literary Trivia:

Henry James wrote TURN OF THE SCREW as a straight 19thC ghost story. He was very pleased with it until friends and fans began to analyze it and elevated it to something else. He was surprised and openly said so. That was not his 'purpose' yet since its pubication that novel has been at the center of the literary and academic communities ever since its pubication. James did go back and re-read teh novel as if someone else had written it and finally agreed that, yes, somehow without knowing it he had written a perfect ghost story/mystery full of metaphors and symbols, strange doings and some complacent characters, and most of all never telling the reader how the story came to be or teh whys or wherefores of teh events.

I LOVE THIS BOOK AND I LOVE THIS STORY ABOUT IT. :)

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I think you make a very good point on the differences in culture.

 

Most writers will tell you that 1) their characters wrote the book and did what they wanted; 2) once they are finished with the final copy the book no longer is theirs ... it now lies in the minds of those who read it; 3) they don't want to restrict a reader's imagination or interpretation or understanding by imposing their 'purpose' since they disengage from the work once we get to it;

It's no surprise that I disagree with this. Breaking it down to its simplest form, if I write 'no', I would hate to have someone interpret it as 'yes', or, for that matter, even as 'maybe'.

 

I think this concept is just a fad that the reading world is going through. Writers don't want to do anything that will affect their sales or reputations, so they claim that any and all interpretations are correct so as not to offend anyone or make someone feel bad for not understanding the work. I believe this to be a more Western concept, especially propagated in America, as that country is forever trying to kill the concept of right or wrong, correct or incorrect, proper or improper, intelligent or unintelligent, et cetera. I believe the concept to be nothing more than a comfort for those who don't understand. I think trying to understand the author's intention is the most important aspect to understanding a work. Otherwise, if I just say whatever I want it mean, I have misunderstood it.

 

Now, having said that, I may have misunderstood Love in the Time of Cholera or, for that matter, any other novel that I've ever read.

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I AM NOT SHOUTING ... EYE PROBLEMS VERY ACUTE NOW

I think you make a very good point on the differences in culture.

THANK YOU

 

 

It's no surprise that I disagree with this. Breaking it down to its simplest form, if I write 'no', I would hate to have someone interpret it as 'yes', or, for that matter, even as 'maybe'.

WHAT YOU SAY IS TRUE IS YOU ARE READING EACH WORD IN A SENTENCE AND TRYING TO FIND MEANING IN A 'THE' OR AND 'A' OR AND 'AND'. THAT'S NOT WHAT I OR THE WRITERS ARE SAYING AT ALL. IF YOU GO BACK TO THE HENRY JAMES TID BIT I OFFERED ... PEOPLE BROUGHT THEIR OWN INTERPRETATIONS (AND CONTINUE TO DO SO) TO TURN OF THE SCREW. THIS SURPRISED HIM AND HE WENT BACK TO SEE WHAT HE DID.

THE LIT CRIT ON T OF THE S IS AWESOME. AND SO NOBODY IS WRONG OR RIGHT IN WHAT THEY COME AWAY WITH AFTER READING THE BOOK ... IT'S NOT CONCRETE.

 

I think this concept is just a fad that the reading world is going through.

I'M NOT SURE WHAT YOU ARE SAYING HERE. EVER SINCE HUMANS HAVE PUT THEIR 'STAMP' OR 'SYMBOL' OR 'LETTER' ON SOMETHING SOMEONE ELSE HAS TRIED TO FIND MEANING IN IT OR WHETHER TEH AUTHOR MEANT WHAT TEH READER ABSORBS.

I'M THINKING OF THE STORIES IN PETROGLYPHS AND CAVE PAINTINGS ... VERY PRIMITIVE ESPECIALLY THE EGYPTIANS VERY COMPLEX ... BUT YOU MAY SEE ONE MESSAGE ADN I MAY SEE ANOTHER ... OUR INDIVIDUAL RESPONSE TO THE ARTWORK.

 

Writers don't want to do anything that will affect their sales or reputations, so they claim that any and all interpretations are correct so as not to offend anyone or make someone feel bad for not understanding the work.

CAN YOU PLEASE GIVE ME A COUPLE OF EXAMPLES OF WRITERS WHO ANNOY YOU BY DOING THIS? I KNOW MOST OF THE PEOPLE I READ DO NOT HAVE THIS IN THEIR MINDS AS THEY WORK. THAT'S ONE OF THE REASONS WHY CRITICS AND SCHOLARS ARE FOREVER ARGUING ABOUT LITERATURE BOTH CLASSIC AND COMTEMPORARY. FURTHERMORE IMHO A WRITER OF WORTH DOESN'T WORRY ABOUT 'OFFENDING SOMEONE WHO DOESN'T 'UNDERSTAND' HER/HIS WORK ... IT'S NOT HIS JOB ... OR AN ELEMENT OF HIS CRAFT

 

I believe this to be a more Western concept, especially propagated in America, as that country is forever trying to kill the concept of right or wrong, correct or incorrect, proper or improper, intelligent or unintelligent, et cetera I believe the concept to be nothing more than a comfort for those who don't understand. .

I MUST PLEAD IGNORANCE ON THIS ISSUE AND I DON'T REALLY UNDERSTAND YOUR POINT, ESP. AS IT REFERS TO 'A MORE WESTERN CONCEPT ... IN AMERICA' CAN YOU BE MORE SPECIFIC, ESPECIALLY WITH A COUPLE OF TITLES OR WRITERS? I'D LIKE TO GET A HANDLE ON YOUR OPINION.

I DO KNOW THAT I CAN NAME A PLETHORA OF BOOKS TAHT HAVE BEEN HASHED AND TRASHED AND ALSO HELD TO THE HIGHEST PRAISE ... ALL THE SAME BOOK. :confused:

 

I think trying to understand the author's intention is the most important aspect to understanding a work. Otherwise, if I just say whatever I want it mean, I have misunderstood it.

ARE YOU SAYING YOU HAVE AN IDEA WEHN YOU APPROACH A BOOK AND WORK TO GET INTO TEH WRITER'S HEAD TO OPEN THE DOORS TO WHERE HIS WORDS/STORY CAME FROM AND WHAT THE INTENTION WAS, IE WHY DID SHE/HE USE THIS WORD INSTEAD OF THAT OR WHY IS SHE WEARING RED AND NOT BLUE OR WHY DOES THIS SENTENCE END THIS WAY. THAT IS A DAUNTING TASK AND IMHO I BELIEVE LITERATURE IS NOT THAT NARROW; YET EACH OF THESE THINGS MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE SYMBOLIC VALUE DEPENDING UPON DIFFERENT ELEMENTS IN THE STORY. (I'M NOT SAYING YOU ARE NARROW) WHAT I MEAN IS ... THE BEST HOPE OF LITERATURE BRINGS TO ANY CULTURE IS ITS ABILITY TO PRESNET THEMES, PLOTS, STORIES, CHARACTERS, CULTURAL EVENTS AND MORE TO THE MIX OF A NOVEL. THAT IS THE INTENTION OF TEH WRITER. I AM NOT COMFORTABLE IF I CANNOT LOOK AT A PASSAGE OR CHAPTER AND THINK ABOUT IT FROM DIFFERENT POV IN MY OWN HEAD.

[iF YOU BEAR WITH ME ... IN 'BONFIRES OF THE VANITIES' WOLFE HAS A LINE I'LL NEVER FORGET DESCRIBING HIS WIFE'S FRIENDS AS 'X-RAYS'. NO OTHER EXPLANATION. BUT IN THE CONTEXT OF TAHT BOOK READERS KNOW EXACTLY WHAT HE MEANS AND HOW HE FEELS ABOUT IT. YET ALSO N THAT BOOK WOLFE USES OTHER IMAGES WHOSE MEANINGS CAN BE ARGUED]

 

IF WE COULD FIND A BOOK WE BOTH READ AND REMEMBER WELL ENOUGH TO TALK ABOUT IT I'D REALLY ENJOY CONTINUING THIS DISCUSSION AND INVITE OTHES TO JOIN US. I THINK THAT AS READERS THIS IS EXACTLY THE KIND OF CONVERSATION THOSE OF US WHO ENJOY TALKING ABOUT THE BOOKS THEY READ IS A CELEBRATION. :D

 

 

Now, having said that, I may have misunderstood Love in the Time of Cholera or, for that matter, any other novel that I've ever read.

NAH!! YOU ARE ON YOUR OWN QUEST INTO FICTION AND ARE TAKING A ROAD YOU ARE COMFORTABLE WITH AND I HOPE GET FULFILLMENT FROM.

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I'm going to sit on the fence here and say that you are both right to a certain extent.

 

When an author puts pen to paper (or finger to keyboard these days, I suppose), they must have a purpose, something they want to convey to the reader, or why bother to write at all? They might well feel a need not to make their message explicit by, for example, setting the novel in another time or place when they are in fact making a comment about the world they lived in, but the message is still there. See "1984" or "Brave New World" as examples. Here, Marquez provides clues that would probably enable a reader familar with Latin America and its history to work out when and where "Love in the Time of Cholera" is set, but ultimately it is not important.

 

As I see it, the question is a) are they successful in imparting whatever they have to say so that most if not all readers will comprehend it and B) have readers spotted something that, quite unconsciously, the author has captured in their narrative. Some people see "The Lord of the Rings" as a metaphoric battle between the rurality of the hobbits, dwarves and elves and "urban industry" as represented by the orcs, Saruman and Sauron. Tolkien denied any such thing, but the argument is plausible.

 

Authors are quite right to say their work is open to interpretation; that is part of the act of reading. It is also quite possible readers will misinterpret what they are reading. Does everyone engage with the anti-church message in "His Dark Materials", for example, or see the parallels with "Paradise Lost"?

 

One comment of GERBAM's I do take issue with is

1) their characters wrote the book and did what they wanted
No, the author wrote the book, the characters are figments of their imagination and theirs to manipulate as they wish provided the character acts in a way consistent with their characterization.

 

Also, SlowRain's assertion that

this concept is just a fad that the reading world is going through. Writers don't want to do anything that will affect their sales or reputations, so they claim that any and all interpretations are correct so as not to offend anyone or make someone feel bad for not understanding the work.
I agree that an element of ambiguity that gets people talking can enhance a book's commercial appeal because the discussion about it keeps it in the public eye, but I don't see what's wrong with that. If every book put its message across with crystal clarity, this would be a pretty dull website.

 

Sorry, I think I'm taking this discussion away from "Love in the Time of Cholera" here...

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I'll take it even further away:

 

Some people see "The Lord of the Rings" as a metaphoric battle between the rurality of the hobbits, dwarves and elves and "urban industry" as represented by the orcs, Saruman and Sauron. Tolkien denied any such thing, but the argument is plausible.

I agree with the statement, but not that particular reasoning. I think Tolkien loved the great outdoors as evidenced by the detail that he put into describing the outdoorsy setting and rural lifestyles, as opposed to the poorly described urban settings and little time the characters spent in such.

 

Back to the topic (somewhat):

 

Ambiguity is a great thing in a novel.

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Authors are quite right to say their work is open to interpretation; that is part of the act of reading. It is also quite possible readers will misinterpret what they are reading. Does everyone engage with the anti-church message in "His Dark Materials", for example, or see the parallels with "Paradise Lost"?

As has been noted, the discussion has broadened out interestingly. The old Is the Author Important? thread dealt with these areas if people want to consider them further. Far from a fad, the question of what a book means and how important the author's intentions are was the fundamental building block of New Criticism, which changed the way literature was understood in the twentieth century. This aspect is dealt with from post #7 onwards.

 

Searching it out prompted me to insert some quote tags to make it more easily readable and of course the whole thing was comprehensively de-trolled when the thread was restored! ;)

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  • 3 months later...

Just finished reading this for the second time. Silly me, I thought I would just skim read it this time - for a reading group - not possible.

 

This book has to be savoured slowly. For me that is in keeping with the time span within the novel. If I missed any part of the writing then I felt sure I would miss out on some nuance or meaning relating to the relationships that are exposed within the framework of this story.

 

I think I have to agree with you SlowRain about almost everything you say regarding this book. This is an exploration of love in so very many forms, not necessarily a 'love story' in the modern sense of the words.

 

Maybe it's my age, but I felt that the later sections were particularly poignant.

The slow grace with which Florentino slowly woos Fermina by letter and her early desire not to refer to the past were, in my view, beautifully handled by Garcia Marquez

 

My view on the characters was that I was not particularly happy to champion any of them in their cause. They were all flawed to a greater or lesser extent. Strangely this did not detract from the story or my desire to read it as I might have supposed. It was such an intriguing triangle and such a fascinating journey that I was enthralled throughout.

 

I really must read something else of his and am interested in the other threads on his books here.

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I really must read something else of his and am interested in the other threads on his books here.

I've only read a few, but I think the closest one in theme to this one is Memories of My Melancholy Whores; but The General in His Labyrinth is good, too. Chronicle of a Death Foretold is more serious in its subject and mood.

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