Sunday, April 8, 2007

Love in the Time of Cholera (thoughts)

I was excited about Marquez's Love in the Time of Cholera. I very much enjoyed One Hundred Years of Solitude, and it seems like every blogger that's read Love in the Time of Cholera adores it. In this, I must say that I am no exception.

For those of you who have read One Hundred Years, the plot line of Cholera will seem very, very straightforward. While there's still a touch of magical realism, Cholera shows a down-to-earth tendency completely lacking from One Hundred Years (imo). I wouldn't be able to say one of these books is better than the other; their styles are too different. Cholera follows the life of three players in a love triangle: Dr. Urbino, Fermina Daza, and Florintino Araza. The book opens when the three of them are septogenarians, so the reader knows pretty quickly that Urbino and Daza married, while Araza continued to love Daza. Then, the book goes back in time to when Daza is fourteen, and fills the reader in on how the characters spent most of this time. It's essentially an exploration of different kinds of love, both physical and emotional, and they affect people.

Marquez knows how to write characters: they're realistic enough to jump out of the page and into my room. The plot also moved along at a good pace; I had trouble putting Cholera down at all. At the same time, his writing is something to be savored: it's unbelievably rich and satisfying. The four and a half pages devoted to the wedding night and following nights are exquisite. The ending is more than satisfactory, which is, what makes or breaks a novel. The reader is happy in the end that s/he's invested so much time.

This isn't a very long review, and it doesn't really do justice to the novel. But, I'm afraid of giving away too much. So, I'll just say that anyone with an interest in love should read this book. And, after all, doesn't that describe everyone?

Favorite Passages

Moreover, a clandestine life shared with a man who was never completely hers, and in which they often knew the sudden explosion of happiness, did not seem to her a condition to be despised. On the contrary: life had shown her that perhaps it was exemplary. (20)

Neither could have said if their mutual dependence was based on love or convenience, but they had never asked the question with their hands on their hearts because both had always preferred not to know the answer. (35)

He was aware that he did not love her. He had married her because he liked her haughtiness, her seriousness, her strength, and also because of some vanity on his part, but as she kissed him for the first time he was sure there would be no obstacle to their inventing true love. They did not speak of it that first night, when they spoke of everything until dawn, not would they ever speak of it. But in the long run, neither of them had made a mistake. (194)

He distrusted the sensual type, the ones who looked as if they could eat an alligator raw and tended to be the most passive in bed. The type he preferred was just the opposite: those skinny little tadpoles that no one bothered to turn around and look at in the street, who seemed to disappear when they took off their clothes, who made you feel sorry for them when their bones cracked at the first impact, and yet who could leave the man who bragged the most baout his virility ready for the trashcan. (212)

Dr. Urbino, for his part, understood that it was impossible to possess his wife as completely as he had on their honeymoon, because the part of love he wanted was what she had given, along with her best hours, to her children, but he learned to live and be happy with what was left over. (267)

Over the years they both reached the same wise conclusion by different paths: it was not possible to live together in any other way, or love in any other way, and nothing in this world is more difficult than love. (270)

No comments: