Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who died on Thursday, was the most celebrated writer of his time and one of the greats of all times. The iconic status that he gained in the mid-20th century with his novels remained undiminished till his last work and death. Though the 1960s’ One Hundred Years of Solitude is considered to be his greatest work, every work of fiction made a different and greater Marquez.
They changed him from a small-time Colombian journalist and writer to the most famous novelist of the world. His life was one of early struggles, and wide recognition and celebrity status later. He has received all high literary honours, including the Nobel Prize. Though Marquez stopped writing about a decade ago as he suffered from cancer and dementia, his death has created a major void in the literary world.
Marquez was part of what is known as the Latin spring of the last century which marked a renaissance in the world of letters in many countries of Latin America. It brought Latin American writing to the forefront of the world. He is also the best practitioner of the technique of magical realism which mixes the factual and the fantastic in weird ways and combinations to create a new idiom of language and to convey a new and higher reality.
Magical realism has since then influenced many writers of other countries and cultures and even writing in other fields like journalism. Marquez was also intensely aware of the social and political life of his country and of Latin America and had deeply human and leftist convictions. The poverty, violence and oppression of the South American world was the staple theme of his fictional world but it was transformed magically into a new world of universal appeal.
Marquez will be remembered mainly for creating a new sensibility and forms of expression which broke up the real world and created a better one in imagination. He appealed to the irrational and the illogical and made use of them to sharpen the sense of reality about the world, history and human beings. His works affirmed the highest human values of love, freedom and justice.
He was perhaps the most read writer of the last century and was at once loved by readers and critics. In many ways he represented a century, linked it with the past and presented it to the future. Marquez’ appeal to readers is certain to continue long after his death.