Jul. 13th, 2010

tispity: Vanquisher character from Torchlight (Default)
Of Love and Other Demons by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

They continued to make hurried, heartless siesta love in the evangelical shade of the orange trees. The mad-women encouraged them from the terraces with indecent songs and celebrated their triumphs with standing ovations.

Well this was certainly an enjoyable enough read - Marquez has a wonderful eye for the most quirkily sacred and profane details - but I have to say it wasn't a patch on his tenderly cynical masterpiece Love in the Time of the Cholera. Indeed, at just 160 pages this almost felt in places like Marquez-lite, an affectionate and accomplished pastiche rather than the real thing. The shortness is intentional as this story - of Sierva Maria, a neglected heiress bitten by a rabid dog who ends up incarcerated in a nunnery believed to be possessed by demons - is clearly intended to have a haunting, fabular quality to it. But one of things I've always enjoyed most about magic realist fiction is the sweeping grandeur of its scale: following its characters for years and years and frequently beginning at least a generation before the main protagonists are even born! Despite its epic themes of religion, love and madness, that sense of scale was somehow missing for me from this work, but that's not to say I didn't enjoy its overall premise. The parallel between the intangibility and madness of love and that of supposed demonic possession is an important theme in this book as Cayetano Delaura, the priest sent in to exorcise Sierva, quickly finds himself captivated by her. He also recognises her essential sanity: the demonic tongues in which she allegedly speaks are the tribal tongues of the black slaves who raised and included the young girl in a way her neglectful parents never did (and the novel has some important points to make about multicultural relations, although Marquez, unlike many of his ecclesiastical characters, never preaches). I also felt this novel lacked the uplifting - albeit brief and qualified - sense of redemption in Marquez's earlier work. It is clearly eighteenth-century Colombian society as a whole that needs healing, not poor Sierva Maria, although Cayetano Delaura's attempts to convince his superiors of this are a tragic and thankless task.

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tispity: Vanquisher character from Torchlight (Default)
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September 2010

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