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Pope-transparency and Illusion

Pope-transparency and Illusion

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Transparency and Illusion in Garcia Marquez' "Chronicle of a Death Foretold" Author(s): Randolph D.

Pope Reviewed work(s): Source: Latin American Literary Review, Vol. 15, No. 29, The Boom in Retrospect: A Reconsideration (Jan. - Jun., 1987), pp. 183-200 Published by: Latin American Literary Review Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20119453 . Accessed: 29/10/2011 20:40
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AND ILLUSION IN TRANSPARENCY GARCIA MARQUEZ? CHRONICLE OF A DEATH FORETOLD RANDOLPH D. POPE At first reading, this novella of 1981 by theNobel Prize winner seems
the Clearly, reader does not feel an immediate impulse to turn to an expert nor does the and engage in deep hermeneutics. critic believe he must go into overdrive that can be left at the The specter arises of a text that needs no commentary, the not find the roughness, in We do silence. closing contemplative Ferr?, It is easy of criticism. that justifies the carping and proliferation line lore. The narrative to read, interesting, trivial local is never apparently even if at times it is briefly diverted. Our academic torches, obscured, Lezama Lima and almost exhausted by the obscurity of Borges, Goytisolo, resistance, Fuentes, are not needed here. One critic has expressed his amazement in straightforward, author, Rosario self-evident, transparent, and a distinguished it as a literary fraud.1 has qualified Puerto Rican

these words:

"InGarc?a M?rquez,

all of the labyrinth is flooded with

a what needs explanation: light."2 On second thought, this is precisely a more than well well lit labyrinth is perversely urn, wrought unsettling a we at center find brutal murder. title when its (The only speaks especially of a foretold awakened The Colombian death: this disparity, murder/death, should already have our suspicion.) is indeed anecdote of Arab descent,

boy their sister's honor. the groom, blamed murdered,

in town,

is butchered

by most, twins because they must avenge the loss of by She was returned home on the wedding night because that she was not a virgin. She is about to be that Santiago

simple: beloved

Santiago

Nasar,

a young, handsome, resented by some as the rich

Bayardo San Rom?n, discovered in town knows Nasar. Everyone

and let the but they stand aside, with few, ineffetive, exceptions, at their trial, and the groom The twins are pardoned tragedy take place. returns to live with the rejected bride, some seventeen years later.

A well lit labyrinth can easily be missed. The relief to the eyes makes
to the mind. No the question of choices and pattern even more bewildering a clues in the polished surface. It just looks as a page of new journalism, a near on in words what took place clean window troubled town, replacing the river. This text can be assigned to the category of trompe l'oeil, an art

183

184
which

Latin American

Literary Review

an ambiguous If it is to be successful, has experienced reception. the art of the painter of a trompe l'oeil must first be missed, and we must see only a pile of books, a used pipe, a violin hanging from a rusty nail, a few letters and coins on the wall. William M. Harnett's or Peto's deceptive

realismwas slighted by the established critics (even if bought at high prices
even by the academics, until it was discovered clients), from the frame, invading reality, as the large trumpeter swan protruding that created the iUusion of painted by Pope, uncomfortable masterpieces and in so doing cancelled the consecrated of art, conventions transparency by delighted

thatwhich made it artful, and hid inmodesty
style, cleansing the canvas even of itself,

the work of the artist, his
no traces except the

leaving

plentitude of the recreatedobject. Garc?aM?rquez* novella disguises its craft in a similarway by claiming
from the title to be something else: a chronicle. This statement an instruction for reading the work as if it were a chronicle, and hear other from (such as publicity), suspect orienting voices These fact that the constitutes while we that it is a

novel.

instructions for reading are further complicated by perplexing come two meanings of the word into play: historical

descriptions Let

in a of events description order. Strictly, this procedure is not followed inChronicle cf chronological a Death Foretold, of the text we approach, since in each of the five divisions us reach, or surpass the murder itself, so that we have read about itmany times

and journalistic reports. consider first the historical

before it is fully brought into the open in all its gruesome details. With
more latitude in the definition, it is almost impossible not to remember that

the chronicles of the Indies constitute the bases of Latin American writing and have been read, especially lately and even without the impulse ofWhite
or Danto, as the literary place where experience, desire, imagination, the European Our Latin a seamless

invention, recycled ideas and cunning met the unchartered reality of the
New World, narrating known, American introducing history unseen the previously a wedge of incalculable at its origin in terms of consequences. but as a chronicle,

does not exist

web of truth and fiction tied together by a slender and incoherent lace of
interpretation. They are texts not to be trusted, many the urge of correcting versions. previous mendacious found out that some of them born out of Those who died in

search of El Dorado, the Fountain of Youth, or the Seven Golden Cities
texts map only the illusions of a crazed or desperate even if they may sound like information that can be safely conquistador, an In followed this numbers confer and confirmed morass, by expedition.

Transparency

and Illusion

in Chronicle

of a Death Foretold

185

a saving grace, an orientation in nowhere, an assurance that even if we do not know towards where, at least we are sure we are moving forward. Here lies the central importance of time in ordering narrative of all the chronicles The and of Garc?a M?rquez' Chronicle, but with an added dimension. chronic and underlines seal frames the individual that he lives in a system. Characters and even are dispersed in a town that has only one this will soon fade in the memory of the

shared human common

time, certainty: text of the Chronicle interviewed witnesses. Garc?a M?rquez' Spanish stresses this nature of time, since all numbers stand out among the letters with the clarity of their cyclic nature from 1 to 12. The English translator has felt free to transform past them into words: becomes "five minutes

six"(10),

for example, "6.05" (10) remains as "3:20" in the "3.20"(83) in the Ballantine Books edition of

first edition inEnglish (on p. 152 of the March 1983 issue ofVanity Fair),
but is mellowed to "three-twenty")(58)

1984.3 This is probably a wise editorial decision, but as usual with
translations, translation contains a significant iconographie interplay is lost.

At this point I must make a brief excursus and mention
is in general brilliant numerous mistakes.

that the

that may prove examples Divina Flor's "el hombre would never had never nudo secrets

in recreating the tone of the original, but it I will give only a few of many possible of the text. important to the correct understanding nunca ser hab?a de the man who que suyo"(26), he would soon die, becomes the omen; "the man who

be hers because hers"

been

cifrado"(39), that an outsider

"un Luisa Santiaga's (15), obliterating an encoded she knew all the tangle clear to her because could never

problem"(25). the following no attention any attention por una vez consequences

it reduced to "a knotty guess, Since in the novel the role of women is of great importance, error could result inmisguided inferences: "My mother paid [her children]; for once but the Spanish atenci?n of in her life she didn't even pay text tells us that for once

to them

to her husband"(25), en la vida, ni le prest?

inher life she did not take care of her children : "Mi madre no les hizo caso,
is the disfiguration cuando vine a su esposo"(40). Of graver the narrator's towards reaction

Bayardo San Rom?n:
narrador], raro como

"Lo conoc? poco despu?s que ella [lamadre del
a las vacaciones de Navidad tan y no lo encontr? as strange as other people

He does not find him dec?an"(46). had said he was. Rabassa "Imet him a short while translates: when I came home for Christmas vacation,

after she did, and I found him just as strange as they had said"(30). In a sentence, Angela's mother becomes Angela a "Hondo out to a flattens (51). desaliento"(76), complete discouragement,

186
"deep, dejected voice" (52). The

Latin American

Literary Review to

"fiestas patronales"

(87) are amplified

"national holidays" (61), "lo dibuj?" (95) (He drew it, the knife), is duplicated into "the investigator had made sketches of them" (67). The fear
of loneliness is lost, when as "I didn't Vicario have "No tuve valor translated version the courage usurps the words para dormir to sleep" (88). spoken by Pablo solo" (124) is In the English in the Vicario

Pedro

original Spanish (92 and 129, respectively). "Y con el cuchillo bast? que ?l mismo hab?a fabricado con una hoja de segueta" (172) [with the coarse knife he himself had forged out of the blade of a sickle], is abridged to "with the naked knife in his hand" (128). Victoria Guzm?n "minti? a conciencia" (185) [she knew she was lying], becomes inEnglish "she lied
(137). honestly" and the narrator "cuchillo There remarks were one straight, the other curved, two knives, that one of the twins used the straight one, the

"with the the translator to the complicated recto" (187), prompting in" knife pointed straight (139), and later, when the Spanish reads "estaba a la izquierda con el cuchillo curvo" (188), this is sliced into "was on his left" sentence is simply left out near the end: "Santiago Nasar la (139). A whole reconoci?" (192), informing us that the mortally wounded Nasar still could at the other side of the river and had the narrator's aunt Wenefrida recognize to reply to her greeting with "They've k?led me, Wene child" the civility

(143). Much is lost in transit.
as in the Spanish text numbers stick out as incrustations, out in delimitations. Garc?a M?rquez time brings The Bad Hours, One Hundred Years of many of the titles of his works: The Autumn the Love in the Time the Cholera, Solitude, Patriarch, of of Back to time: uncontroUable common "Baltazar's Prodigious Afternoon," to silence. "Tuesday's Siesta," etc.

But thewisdom of "Timewill tell" does not apply here. The opposite
is true; time will event from reduce The narrator's efforts are to rescue an as he tries to flesh out it has acquired in memory, to rot, with water invading of a story that is starting to evaporate, like and and still circling with archives, memory language the leanness that remains inexplicable, even if many times

the details the town

over a death scavengers foretold and retold. The case,

is the journalistic second meaning of "chronicle" report, in this an a in the tropics. the chronicle education It is well known fact of are historical. In an article in 1979, he even published than we are," and affirmed that there

thatGarc?aM?rquez is a professional journalist and he insists that the facts
of his novella conceded that "reality is a better writer

is no line in any of his books thatdoes not have its origin in something that

Transparency

and Illusion

in Chronicle

of a Death Foretold

187

really happened.4 between similarities and others Foretold.5

Recent some

investigations articles he wrote of Wilma Montesi

have

on the visit

on the murder But

the very close of Pope Pius XII and Chronicle of a Death shown

even for an experienced a to reader: we are not invited reading of the text. The Pope is proliferating the case of the murdered reduced to a Bishop, girl has left here only the trace of an ultimate mystery. What should be asked is how the connection the connections are not evident, cleared in search away, of so infinite that the reader does not escape the This aspect, Garcia connections. to than amyth, of a trace that connects to his than with what we have read, is peculiar the rather frequent and literature. and bewildering In an interview

was

interrupted, narrative world creation

M?rquez' what we

of an event more

more experience and in an oblique way explains he has made of journalism conflations literature Foretold,

Diario 16 (April 28,1981, p. 72), he claims that inChronicle published in
of a Death confluence the perfect for the first time, he has accomplished at because he aims and literature, of journalism something to him, helps to keep in contact with reality, essential according journalism, in an article of 1982, assures us that to the work of literature. Rabassa, that in technique at least?and are [literature and journalism] the effect "a very of this journalistic strong feeling of

"has come to the conclusion Garc?a M?rquez in many other ways as well?they possibly assesses the same."6 Rabassa correctly technique in most readers, who will

report

authenticity"(49).7 real journalists But when came up with mixed results, Review, Colombian took place "Truth

Garc?a M?rquez' claims, they investigated as Edith Grossman in her article of reveals

to her and some than Fact."8 is Stranger According in his youth the crime that involved Garc?a M?rquez journalists, a certain Cayetano Gentile in Sucre and the victim was stock. The romantic outsider, Bayardo San Rom?n,

Chimento, and Gabriel

not of Arab

was in realityMiguel Reyes Palencia, born in Sucre, a friend of Cayetano
another wife, Angela brothers twins. now an insurance agent with 12 children from Garc?a M?rquez, and who has seen Margarita Chica, the woman who became Chica's Vicario, Margarita only twice since their separation. were called Victor was Manuel committed and Jos? Joaqu?n, and they were not by only one of them. Garc?a M?rquez' bases for his narrative is a ruse that to constantly placed him in The reader does not need such a name,

The murder

insistence intensifies question

on the underlying the transparency why

historical effect.

the author gave

such a character

188
such a situation: it just is so because a book,

Latin American

Literary Review is no need for

it was

so and there

futher elucidation. for autobiographies,

Reading establishes

as Philippe a pact between

Lejeune has clearly the narrator/author and the

shown

reader as to the level of truth thatwill be granted to the story? In terms of
as readers we establish as soon as possible the sort of statement Foucault, are confronted with and proceed accordingly.10 In Chronicle cfa Death the reader is led up the garden path, but then, once he or she Foretold, we discovers that the text is not a true chronicle, the situation acquires a

viscosity between the solid facts of history and thefree flow of fiction. So
much is referring to well known aspects of reality: the name of the narrator and his wife, the general outline of the case. The journalistic chronicle has been adulterated, shot through by literature, and in the many perforations to the event is where the critic where the artist carved his own modifications comes looks into action, made like an empty pipe, cautious a recently by the scattered remnants of what still but this is played flute, burnt matches:

not a pipe.

There are examples of the difficulty of reading in the novella itself: the
we read that the very beginning a of timber trees, and he grove going through was happy while he dreamed, but when he awoke he felt spattered with in town as an interpretor of bird shit. Santiago's mother, who is famous this crucial one. The omen is not understood. dreams, misinterprets We, interpretations has Santiago of dreams and omens. At seen himself the readers, are told an omen itmust be missed, to become But danger. seen as nail from the wall is successful the protruding just painted only if tries to hang a hat from it. The present is visited in prophetic first someone that Santiago's in order for the dream subconscious is warning him of the

dreams by the future, but the future is in disguise. The complexity of the
of premonition lies in the fact that if the dream is a warning of to will and it is then it that be be avoided, avoided, prove may something or not acted upon, only the murder of If it is not clearly understood, false. language

the young man, the drop of the hat to the floor, will prove the truth of the
matter, the exact relation as a dark mirror, reviewed which hides its true meaning deeper of things. Once the tragedy happens, but with a duplication bordering in order that it be confirmed. knows and we the dream is in duplicity, The Other I, the

knows, writing but in a language written, premonitions is constantly

the narrator

of displacement, misunderstood by the characters.

is Life get to know. and the surface of these We are told

that Pl?cida Linero "never forgave herself for having mixed up the magnificant augury of treeswith the unlucky one of birds"(l 15). It claimed

Transparency

and Illusion

in Chronicle

of a Death Foretold

189

a sixth sense from his mother that Santiago had inherited (6), but he to the "sediment of copper stirrup on his palate"(2), attaches no significance Mother and son fail as the penetrated, useless stirrup of red copper. readers. Also "she didn't feel text that we is not up to the task: Luisa Santiaga, in the the throbs of the tragedy" (129). There are warnings "until he was carved as readers may miss a first time around: the narrator's mother,

up like a pig"(2) will be amuch more literal statement thanwhat our training
would "the We may or may not miss other omens: lead us to expect. to the thrown the innards rabbits' the many smell"(5), dogs, baptistery its In short: there is a writing in this event that foretells roosters crowing. culmination, demands it is a scribbling of human the complicity but hard to unscramble, in order blindness it actually to reach its own and

is definitely not transparent for the characters, even if it fulfillment. Reality San that Bayardo ascertains Nasar is foretold. Ironically, Santiago cost as to in was the it referred inasmuch Roman's correct, prediction money of his wedding. Blindness and insight, as two directions in the well lit labyrinth. The investigating marginal most Much notes

a reader of Nietzsche magistrate, in the incessant quest for origins and motives,

and given has a right

to to

be "perplexedby the enigma thatfate had touched him with"(l 16), since the
the brand of the perpetrator. ismissing: frequent supernatural writing will become more or less clear, "except for one item that would never up: who was of course, as has been the real cause of her damage, and how and why,

be cleared

because no one believed that ithad really been Santiago Nasar" (103). This
does not mean, was when that we may safely infer from the text that Nasar innocent, the narrator proclaimed visits Angela many asked her When the magistrate answers: "Fue mi In fact, by several reviewers.11 years later she insists that "He was if she knew who this in English Santiago

the one"(104). Nasar was,

Angela

as "He was my perpetrator"(117). one we could also expression, expression del crimen," comes probably but "my author"? from

autor"(160); We have here

translate "he was

appears an extremely unlikely as "He was my author." (The "el autor to the fact that

the author of the crime",

Can we find here an allusion

perhaps Gabriel himself was to blame for the fateful deflowering, or that
"c'est moi"?) the writing frame of time and the tug between creates and misinterpretations, stubbornness blindness, Santiago The difference therefore between no space Nasar of fate and human a world where the

is insignificant, and happening leaving foretelling for liberty. Once we open up the text to the many codes

190
where honor the action code

Latin American

Literary Review

and cruel,

is registered, more overdeterminations spring up. The to comply with it is bloody crossroads: is one of the engraved would mean ostracism and its demands but not to follow

No one is able to "spare those poor boys from the horrible duty contempt. and that's fallen on them"(65). There are also several literary paradigms that has indicate that this event only repeats something references which

happened before. From Greek tragedy (and thefrightened Hector running
to escape from Achilles), to the passion of Christ.12 around Troy wishing all article of reconstructing But, as Arnold Penuel has put it in his model the bullet intertextual Garc?a mechanisms, away M?rquez possible keeps is my central thesis and my reading is opposite but from the gun. This to that of Penuel: complementary Sophocles, in the tropical word suffocated of Garc?a as and then rejected symposium insignificant, the apostolical two possible themselves. Petronius, and St. John are to the invited M?rquez, as arrives with just Borges

his mirrors and labyrinths and hypallage adiectivi only to be hidden under
dress of Mar?a Alejandra Cervantes. This is the secret of the that have divided sometimes critics, readings against one as in Garc?a M?rquez, On the abounds side, repetition insistence that in Latin America arrives late: everything a to It is mistake of the earth, genesis.

evidenced

by his

as a foundational myth, because the not book is about origin but about repetition and postponement. From the are we of this book that told that there was itself, very beginning duplicates a precedent of incest in the Buendia that the result also then had family, and been a child with a pig's tail. A lucid critic Josefina Ludmer, writes: "Lo

of the roundness ice, the discovery One Hundred Years of Solitude qualify

primordial semuestra como posibilidad de retroceso indefinido: el origen
no es un verdadero origen, es repetici?n, el narrador lo toma en un momento en que ya repite algo" ["The primordial is shown as the possibility a not true is of unending the it is repretition, regression: origin origin, narrator takes over already to tell us that something is repeating itself'].13 or supernational, The sweep of Time, the subconscious honor codes, all affect the characters, their literary paradigms, reducing their originality, are to sentences choice of how to exist. reduced They already written. Vividly, Angela: dart, like Nasar's death "She nailed in a word by is frozen (as the man of Nazareth's), it [Santiago's name] to the wall with her well-aimed sentence with no will whose has always been "There is no way out of this ...

a butterfly One of the twins ponders: written"(53).

It's as if it had already happened"(70).
Bruguera Spanish edition, the reader

Indeed, in the cover flap of the
that "Tema central en la

is informed

Transparency narrativa protagonista desdichada narrative,

and Illusion

in Chronicle

of a Death Foretold

191

de Garc?a M?rquez, indiscutida, vida de los hombres" fatality

la fatalidad como

como aqu? finalmente met?fora de la insensata suprema y ["The central theme in Garc?a M?rquez' aparece

appears here at last as the indisputable main protagonist, as supreme metaphor of the foolish and unhappy lives of human beings"]. Are we then confronted the by paradigmatic archetypal) (cryptic ominous

writing followed by its foretold event that then fades into the pages of journalistic of artisticwriting? Is this the cyclic world of underdevelopment described byMaldonado Denis speaking of The Autumn of thePatriarch ?:
lacras del subdesarrollo: el car?cter estancado, persistentes de los pueblo que lo padecen" c?clico, de la historia ["One of the most of is this: shameful characteristics the persistent underdevelopment that suffer under stagnant, cyclic nature of the history of those countries in his review of this justify Cornejo Polar's conclusion it"].14 Does to the effect that it is a relatively superfluous Chronicle of a Death Foretold, in written ludic since?he on?we, work, goes just superficiality Latinamericans, have known than the ideologization One Hundred Years of Solitude for a long time that Destiny is nothing we of power?15 Can see, with Hern?n Vidal, represents else that "Una de las m?s

the failure of the liberal capitalist

political project, or detect in all of Garc?aM?rquez' works the pessimism well brought out by Rodriguez Luis?16 I wrote myself, in 1975, that
openness to a true future had to be the test for novels that claimed to be in a revolutionary and that repetition and the abolition grounded ideology, of time reflected only the partial experience of some classes and countries in Latin America, M?rquez Rama?: as "lo latinoamericano."17 Does falsely postulated we on a to fail the test? Do have focus greater human "Vemos la presencia las grandes fuerzas sutil, soterrada, contradictoria, la historia Garcia tragedy, hasta de un

being played out at a continental level, as it has been described by Angel
de equ?voca, determinado que witness est?n moviendo

the subtle hidden, presence, of the great forces that move history at a is this presence made manifest, and how is a If their Parnassian it contradictory? is among the activity tug-of-war a to desacralized what at does character have left the left)? say (even gods, of such Or, finally, do we reach for a more saussurean determination, type ["We tiempo" even ambiguous, contradictory, determined time"].18 But, how as this one proposed Mimetic between one by Culler explaining deconstruction?:

relations

can be regarded as intertextual: relations a and another rather than between representation

192
textual plenitude dependency with imitation and a nontextual

Latin American

Literary Review that assert the the may

original.

Texts of

of an origin, the of a manifestation

uniqueness or derivation

an original, of an imitation,

reveal that the original is already an imitation and that everything
begins But reproduction.19 all of this true, that in Garc?a we find only M?rquez of a true novum, the pristine and this would be a a believer as

were

then there would be an obstruction repetition, as our true home, future that Ernst Bloch recognized curious attitude in transformation

the close friend of Torrijos, for Garc?a M?rquez, and political change, a writer who selected Fidel Castro

... There the first reader of the manuscript ofChronicle of a Death Foretold since many could be a gap between the artist's declaration and his writing, world. critics find in reiteration and stagnation the clue to Garc?a M?rquez'

Alfred Mac Adam writes about One Hundred Years of Solitude : "Why
begin and end the history of Macondo with an act of incest? The answer and difference. between may lie in the relationship repetition seems to envision the world he represents and Garc?a M?rquez in which In a world,

in this way, cannot it of life the mode is being, develop because only repetition one of the most brilliant has no place to grow."20 And Josefina Ludmer, critics of One Hundred las supersticiones todas las predicciones todas Years of Solitude writes: y creencias populares "En Cien a?os de soledad se transforman en realidad;

se cumplen" Years of Solitude aU ["In One Hundred come to all become and beliefs reality; predictions popular superstitions a is such a keen critic that he budges But just as MacAdam pass"].21 of of his lack definite assertation ("the certainty signs by intercalating seems to envision"), answer way lie", "Garc?a M?rquez Josefina Ludmer on same on "El to the narrador de Cien a?os herself contradict page: goes con este tipo de posibilidades; las muertes anunciadas juega constantemente no ocurren, son maduros, los ni?os los locos inesperadas; no se no acontecen; los objetos buscados los hechos l?cidos; esperados narrator of One Hundred Years encuentran" ["The plays constantly with ones foretold deaths do not happen, unexpected this sort of possibilities; acaecen las are mature, madmen after never lucid; expected appear"]. These do not take place; are not isolated instances. events

do; children

the objects searched Carmen Arnau goes en la predestinaci?n

cree firmemente as far as to state that "Garc?a M?rquez en todas las partes del mundo" de todos los hombres even if she is forced later in her book to

["Garc?a M?rquez believes firmly in the predestination of all human beings
everywhere in the world"],

Transparency

and Illusion

in Chronicle

of a Death Foretold

193

acknowledge la posibilidad, cada cual

esta novela parece ser el Universo de that "para los hombres no hay ning?n camino preestablecido, todo parece posible, se hace el suyo propio a medida de sus deseos, no hay ning?n seems to be the Universe of this novel ["for men one no seems fixed there is each road, possible, anything own according to the measure there is no of his desires,

condicionamiento" possibility, his makes

in Garcia These reflect a radical ambiguity critics conditioning"].22 texts that we have explored up to now in the hesitation between M?rquez' of course, is novel and chronicle, between fiction and history. Ambiguity, at the antipodes of repetition, since it is at once two but never any one of the
two.

is character of Chronicle of a Death Foretold ambiguous not She hide the with unfortunate she does truth, consequences. Angela: is lost, the hymen She could does not pretend; her virginity is broken. The least the missing resentful quality, but she is probably easily have counterfeited to the best bidder. What at having been handed over as merchandise she lacks is the ultimate in all its value since the vacant art?culo de consumo, at the moment there only to be taken and shining of its destruction; but the absence is telling,

the lover. Bayardo does re-remembers space intolerably on his wedding not make a mistake night, or at least not in the facts. He not given. must proceed from what and And all seems then to is given march down the last one-lane stretch of the labyrinth. the mistakes of the characters seem to There may be an opening. While is the language of the narration represent what the writing has rehearsed, and studded by unexpected creative jumps that sparkle in a characteristic disturbing Garc?a M?rquez style. One way the reader evident misnomer that forces otherwise, to engage to define to change And they a metaphor is as an and read register are unnecessary, we door have, for she saw the

unpredictable, example, Divina

in interpretation. at least in Chronicle. unforetold, Flor's vision: "through

Here

the half-open

almond trees on the square, snowy [?levados]in the light of the dawn" (14), awonderfully incorrect perception in the tropics. The rigor of logic would
object to the following couldn't stand the noise sentence: "skin was so delicate Santiago's of starch" (5). Let me insist: this is more creative world. visits Bayardo's that it than a

question of style, it is the half-open door of the unpredictable that, Iwill
show, in Garc?a M?rquez' lost in the translation, when someone is essential it is Pity, then, when house and the rooms

"were lighted by the traces of the eclipse" (97), when the Spanish text reads: "los cuartos iluminados por los rescoldos del eclipse" (135), lit by

194
the last embers the eclipse. of the author enjoying of These

Latin American are

Literary Review the brand of the the

embers

perpetrator,

his freedom

from

the sun of logic,

generation of the new by his sidestepping from thewell lit labyrinth.
Garc?a M?rquez has stressed repeatedly the importance imagination has in transforming the world: "Acu?rdate que la gran mayor?a de las cosas de este mundo, desde las cucharas hasta los transplantes del coraz?n, en la imaginaci?n antes de estar en la realidad. de los hombres estuvieron El socialismo Uni?n estuvo Sovi?tica... en la imaginaci?n de Carlos Marx antes de estar en la o tarde temprano, la realidad termina por darle la raz?n

a la imaginaci?n" ["Remember that the great majority of things in this
world, human before from of spoons to heart transplants, were first in the imagination was in then first Karl Marx Socialism beings reality. imagined by sooner or later, reality ends up by it appeared in the Soviet Union...

agreeing with imagination"].23 This is our first important discovery: for Garc?a M?rquez, freedom is found in imagination, because there thehuman
being can go beyond history and literature, anticipating it, since eventually

whatever

is new will end up swallowed up by the discourses of the

and the imagined. experienced a problem at the We must complicate matters further by investigating in anecdotal level of Chronicle, letters. One letter, predicting concerning detail Santiago's death, is left unopened thousands of letters written by Angela and unread until after the crime; to Bayardo are never the The

first one

opened. is traditional, literary, but the latter surprise the reader. In search for clues one can read an article published in litt?raire that has to Magazine a fabrication as be considered candid Garcia revelations.24 disguised

M?rquez affirms here thathe had not been able towrite Chronicle because he had not been able to invent a convincing and appropriate end. Ifwe look at the text, the end appears to be Santiago's falling dead on the kitchen floor
innards had been eaten by the dogs only a few hours thus all predictions, But and codes would be fulfilled. omens, the end Garc?a M?rquez writes inMagazine Litt?raire that what he considers where the rabbits' before:

was penned by reality: a friend of his reported to him that Santiago Nasar
to be pure invention, (This appears Angela. event him understand, made This article.) according alleged return of he claims, that this is a story of love, and that the marginal to center real be would the of the story. Santiago Angela Let us follow this lead for amoment, but noting first the extreme care had returned to live with to the Review that Garc?a M?rquez bookish tradition. has taken to root his love story in an event and not in a In fact, in Chronicle we are told that "for the immense

Transparency

and Illusion

in Chronicle

of a Death Foretold

195

majority

of people

there was

only one victim:

Bayardo

San Rom?n.

They that life

took it for granted that the other actors in the tragedyhad been fufiUingwith
dignity, and even with a certain grandeur, their part of the destiny

had assigned them"(96). San Rom?n (the pilgrim toRome?) is the outsider (much asMelqu?ades was inOne Hundred Years of Solitude): he does not
have an assigned part, and he does not fit easily into the town stereotypes One reviewer his sexual identity is questioned. since from the beginning the novel because that he returned on the wedding night not so much a virgin, but more because his own sexual ... We find a character who is of the inclinations his wife her 'seemed gay' and who seems one is one, as the

reaches the following unfounded deduction: "It is licit to inferfrom reading
he did not find had other that Bayardo

preferences opinion Spanish

saying goes."25 Of course, this is not a licit inference, and Angela on the of Bayardo's and pleasing memories performance kept burning wedding night, but the snide remark of the critic and the gossip in town are fitting, since Bayardo is the man without a role, forgotten by everyone on

the day of the crime, so it is only days later that they think of looking him
is the of fate, Bayardo up. In a book so burdened down by the sentencing odd man out, the dweller of the margin. of placing this standpoint, From from this apparent afterthought at center and from of the the and narration, t?strompe l'oeil Angela Bayardo we must it happened, is there only because that this episode the with the odd, the unexpected, fascination Garc?a M?rquez' In his speech of acceptance of the Nobel Prize, he strange, and the unique. for is unbelievable, instances in which Latin America underscored the many affirmation reexamine should not be explained This uniqueness it is unprecedented.26 away by or lo maravilloso. This is realism real clich? of the tired magical applying not an exotic fringe, but the center itself where the unexpected is possible, This where previous writing collapses, gaping for a word as yet inexistent. is the space of liberty. if, because of this, the circus is for Garcia (I wonder a symbol of rebellion and life: a form of art that is transient, that M?rquez So aims to amaze and fire the imagination with facts and not with writing.) a fact, and this telling, straight and with no must become the unexpected exclamation learned marks, from journalism.27 he has that reports what people believe has happened, is the intertextual What must be shortcircuited

will always keep us with ourminds fixed inwhat has been proliferation that
the the uniqueness of the life sparkling while put into sentences, about why connections is ignored or abstracted. (We are still concerned

196
Bay ardo never delayed.) These M?rquez a man opened those letters, but

Latin American

Literary Review solution must be

the offered

considerations is aman

bring

against from formulations "was aman

books,

against books, because

us to an unexpected conclusion: as Cervantes could have been just they does exist. obscure the present event

Garcia termed with

understand clothes,

the past. Time The investigating magistrate with the fever of literature" (116) and could, therefore, burning little of what he had to witness. His theories, as his improper In this sense, Marlise a book, Simons has he an "anti-intellectual... reading the destruction books

do not fit the life of the town.

seen correctly when she called Garc?a M?rquez looks on theory as an enemy."28 It is precisely that brings about hastily Melqu?ades' writing, In Garc?a M?rquez' about literature. Borges, own works If one no one praises him with compares and Fuentes,

deciphering of Macondo. a great written ado

or makes

by is clear and Cort?zar, Carpentier, In an interview for El Pa?s, the startled conclusion of the stunning. interviewers was that what least interested Garc?a M?rquez was literature.29 are not frequent characters in his books, and in his latest novel, Intellectuals in the Time a doctor seeped in European culture of the Cholera, to want to take over as the main character gets brushed and off

the palimpsests the difference

Love who

appears soon enough when he dies after falling while trying a parrot he has taught how tree his best companion, that there may be in life a residual such fatal coincidences. must have sensed element The

to bring down from a to speak French. The "No one could judge who came to admit it, for his in his report"(l 1).

investigating judge inChroncle is dumbfounded because he fails to admit
of absurdity: understand investigating them without daring was obvious

from Riohacha impulse to give

them a rational

explanation

But he relegates to the margins of his brief exasperated notes and the
drawing of a heart pierced by an arrow, cutting into the consistency of the and how and it is. report showing incomplete unsatisfactory a book-pusher, a seller narrator The himself has become of all information in the world can be of the investigations for this chronicle

where encyclopedias, supposedly "in the course found. Nevertheless, he [Gabriel] recovered numerous mission

of this inexplicable if Santiago "left by the door on the square ... itwas for such reason that the investigator who drew up the brief never did understand and Rulfo are not proliferators of it"(57). Only Garc?a M?rquez the writers of the "boom." But while Rulfo is among literary allusions other quotes: an unforeseen

The intro marginal experiences"(48). element that proves central is seen in marginal

Transparency removed

and Illusion

in Chronicle

of a Death Foretold

197

from literature to the point of silence and death, Garc?a M?rquez a deep anxiety, a fear of writing that leads him to cover up all the clues that may make him guilty of flagrant and intertextuality. Orginality true life is impossible when it is only a repetition of the past, of a past that reveals must be left behind. rescue he will Ifmemory of other masterpieces is unavoidable, then characters from his friends' books and show them "alive" in In One Hundred Years characters from of Solitude are debooked and roam the

his narrative novels

world.

by Fuentes, Carpentier, same world as the Buendias. This would the letters, because he

and Cort?zar

not open

is gained

also explain why Bayardo does over by the vigorous action of

Angela's writing, return and forgive flawed, precisely absurb, because

or purple prose. and not by reasoning The impulse to an to stems be from (and accept forgiven) unpredictable, but still magnificently human love, that is told impulse, it can never be foretold. She has restored her own

and he respects that seal. She has broken away virginity by her writing, from her mother, and not repeated her mistakes: with her pen and her she has created her own self, an absurd result perhaps to sewing machine the townsfolk, but an important step forward in the liberation of women and men in Latin America. The friends of the narrator keep on talking about the mystery, "trying to give order to the chain of many chance events that had made absurdity possible," "none of us could go on living precisely because an exact knowledge to us by without of the place and the mission assigned fate" (113). At the margin, then, the central character and event: Angela Vicario, "mistress letters. of her fate for the first time"(108), after over 2,000

unopened narrative voice stretches over the disquiet of falling Garc?a M?rquez' to remain a voice, a chronicle into books, in time, refusing the struggling not a to is of literature. This told the for his dream, immortality psychiatrist as their own: it is a story townfolk it is not Bosch interpretation, recognize or Dal?, but Hamett and Chagall. This does not mean that his work is a celebration the irrational can be as written, as of the naive or the irrational: as the rational, and the naive as repeated as the sophisticated. prescribed, to perplex a judge, a critic, created to destroy the "dime But it is a writing

novel title" the judge attaches to the door to the square: "The Fatal It is intended to push reality out from under the weight of Door"(ll).
to bring the picture out of the frame, to give us atrompe words, a celebration of what in life, requiring is absurd and unique creative energy, a capacity for pleasure, and courage. l'oeil. a burst It is of

198
He will in the effort events, reader, not, of course, to block produce

Latin American

Literary Review but precedence, to true reportable of letters. The

a literature

that escapes

he inscribes

by constant reference intertextuality in his texts the will to be a voice devoid

not a reader's,

if he is not to be torn by hesitation, must adopt a listener's attitude, and accept for an instant the illusion of a world that is voiced

in a jubilant affirmation of the human voice and ear, of the and emerging of the and the listener, not the eye/I of print, but the we, presence speaker A circle, nevertheless, that is circle. the use of the gossipy storyteller's conscious of its imminent news grow yesterday's the surprising fact that true history as soon as and dispersal, fragmentation claims our attention with stale and today's heading goes on and does exist.

Washington University NOTES
en Ferr?'s opinion is quoted by Carmen Rabell in Periodismo yficci?n " del Mait?n, "Cr?nica de una muerte anunciada 1985), (Santiago: Monograf?as p. 13. As will be seen by the reader who finishes this study, I believe Ferr? may be, only in a certain way, right. It should be clear from the start that I consider and the term "fraud" is accepted only devoid of its usual Cr?nica a masterpiece, negative connotations. 2 Crist?bal Sarrias, "Garc?aM?rquez, Premio Nobel," Raz?n y Fe, 206, Nr. 1013 (December 1982), p. 456, my translation. He goes on to say that this narrative transparency is the most important quality in Garc?a M?rquez' work, p. 457. The editions I will be quoting from are the following: for the Spanish translation by Gregory 1981; for the English original, Barcelona: Bruguera, Ballantine 1984. The Vanity Fair edition is Rabassa, New York: Books, The Ballantine Books edition has illustrated brilliantly by Femando Botero. some drawings by Paul Giovanopoulos. Gabriel Garc?a M?rquez, "Fantas?a y creaci?n art?stica en America Latina y el Caribe," Texto Cr?tico, 14 (1979), 3-8, quote in p. 8. 5 See Rabell, pp. 17-21. 6 or New Book: Literature "Garc?a M?rquez' Rabassa, Gregory Journalism," WLT, 56, 1 (1982), 48-51, quote on page 51. He then goes on to the mystifying formula "Here fiction is treated like fact treated like fiction"(49), I do understand him correctly?is that I suspect?if very perceptive. 7 Another reviewer confesses that the impression she had when she read the narration was that the events had taken place. See Adelaida L?pez de in Chasqui, Mart?nez' review of Cr?nica 10 (1981), p. 72. Victoria F. Chase en Los funerales de laMama analyses another "chronicle" in "(De)mitificaci?n 4 3 1

Transparency Grande" formula: 8

and Illusion

in Chronicle

of a Death Foretold

199

Texto Cr?tico, 16-17 (1980), 233-247, and also arrives to a paradoxical "Una historia verdadera de una (aparente) mentira" (233).

See also, for 30 (September-December Review, 1981), 71-73. information, Rabell, pp. 67-68. complementary 9 en France in his L'Autobiographie (Paris: Colin, Philippe Lejeune in and Le Pacte later 1971), Autobiographique. 10 Most of du Savoir 19679), is (Paris: Gallimard, L'Arch?ologie that are active in discourse and allow a dedicated to exploring the mechanisms delimitation of how a reader confers and excludes meaning. 11 Adelaida "It takes more courage L?pez de Mart?nez in Chasqui writes: and a stronger mettle to defy social pressures than to kill a man. The event is worse in this case, because it is evident that the sacrificed victim was innocent affirms in "Le yeux du mage," and that the killers knew it." Albert Bensoussans No. 178 Litt?raire, 1981), p. 32, that the novel is about (November Magazine "L'in?luctable destin accable des les premieres pages un beau jeune homme innocent promis a la mort sur la d?nonciation fallacieuse d'une femme r?pudi?e au soir de ses noces." Paul Alexandreu Georgescu, in "Garc?a M?rquez y la de la novela," Correo de los Andes (Bogot?), 13 (January-February metamorfosis and that the guilt is 1982), 30-32, believes that the crime took place inMacondo "inexistente"(32). 12 These are references to two of the best studies about the novella: Angel entre la tragedia y la policial o cr?nica y pesquisa de Rama, "Garc?aM?rquez 13 (1982), 1-27, and the superb Cr?nica de una muerte anunciada," Sin Nombre, article by Arnold M. Penuel, "The Sleep of Vital Reason in Garc?a M?rquez' Cr?nica de una muerte anunciada," Hispania, 68 (December 1985), 753-766. 13 Tiempo 14 Ludmer, Cien Contempor?neo, a?os de soledad: 1972), p. 42. Una interpretaci?n (Buenos Aires:

un "La violencia del subdesarrollo y el subdesarrollo de la violencia: an?lisis de El oto?o del patriarca de Gabriel Garc?a M?rquez," CASA, 16, No. 98 (1976), 24-35, quote on page 24. 15 Revista 142. de Cr?tica Literaria Latinoamericana, 7, No. 13 (1981), 140

16 Julio Entre Luis, La literatura Rodr?guez hispanoamericana: a dedicates whole y compromiso experimento (Madrid: Espiral, 1984), chapter to this aspect, "Garc?aM?rquez: compromiso y alienaci?n," 201-231, where he expands, correctly to my mind, on Vidal's limited, but perceptive, opinion. 17 "La apertura al futuro: Una categor?a para el an?lisis de la novela hispanoamericana contempor?nea," RI, 41, No. 90 (1975), 15-28. 18 Diez (Caracas: S?ntesis problemas para el novelista latinoamericana was This 68. Dosmil, essay p. 1972), previously published in CASA, No. 26 1964). (October-November 19 Jonathan Culler, On Deconstruction (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1982), p. 187.

200 Latin American LiteraryReview
Latin American Narratives (Chicago: Press, 1977), p. 86. 21 Ludmer, 106-107. 22 El mundo m?tico de Gabriel Garc?a M?rquez 1975), pp. 20 and 121. 20 Modern University of Chicago

(Barcelona:

Pen?nsula,

23 Armando con Gabriel Garc?a M?rquez," in Duran, "Conversaciones Sobre Garc?a M?rquez, selection by Pedro Sim?n Mart?nez (Montevideo: in Marcha, 1971), 31-31, quote on page 38. This is an interview made Barcelona in 1968. 24 33-35. 25 26 Adelaida L?pez Mart?nez, p. 71. Gabriel Garc?a M?rquez, "Le r?cit du r?cit," ML, 178 (November 1981),

For an English version of the speech, see The New York Times, Sunday, February 6,1983. 27 This is what Garc?a tells Marlise Simons in "A Talk with M?rquez Gabriel Garc?a M?rquez," The New York Times Book Review (December 5, 1982), p. 60: "I read a lot from James Joyce and Erskine Caldwell and of course But the tricks you need to transform something which appears from Hemingway. into something plausible, credible, those I learned from fantastic, unbelievable ... The It is done by reporters and by journalism key is to tell it straight.
country folk."

28 29
17.

In the interview quoted

in the previous

note, p. 61. 137 (November 25,1979), p.

"Rosas para todos," El Pa?s Semanal, Nr.

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