The last two books I chose to read were: “One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and “Miss Brill” by Katherine Mansfield. These are certainly two different books, but the some main themes are close in a way.
The book “One Hundred Years of Solitude” seemed to me rather unusual, the whole style of the author and the plot itself, and it was rather hard to remember all the names of the heroes.
This book is about 100 years of life of one family – Buendia. They live in an unnamed African country in jungles. It is called even a tale by some of the readers, as this novel is full of supernatural events and unusual characters. I would call it also a kind of a fairy tale, not a novel. Many layers of fantasy are mixed up in the lives of the main heroes of several generations of Buendia family. The story seems to have no plot, it is more like a collection of fantastic stories of each of the members of the family. All of them have their own obsessions, problems and insanity. When you start reading the book you might feel that all the events taking place are absolutely stupid and all the heroes are simply sick, but later on, the novel made me think more deeply about my life and about my relations with other people and even with members of my family. Probably everybody could find something interesting and new in this book.
It is also connected with the unique reality of Latin America – it was between modernity and the stage of pre- industrialization, after a civil war and attacked by imperialism. Thus this was a strategy used by several authors of those times – magic going through ordinary lives, mixing up the reality and fiction.
From the title already the main theme of the novel can be determined – solitude, which applies to every character in a unique way. Here it is not compared with loneliness, more with the obsession by seclusion or even madness. The characters fail to build a communication with each other and pay attention to the problems of others. I am sure all people face loneliness in their lives, it doesn’t matter if they have a lot of friends and happy family, all people feel lack of understanding and lack of support from the surrounding society from time to time, this is the main reason why this book was interesting to me.
Many critics debate whether there is a political message in this novel. Political significance in the story is seen for example when Aureliano learns about two political parties: Conservatives and Liberals and when a war broke out in Macondo. The theme of Latin American political violence is rather important in the whole novel. But it is less connected with human feelings and emotions and was of minor interest for me.
The second book – “Miss Brill” is a story about a woman, about her internal condition, about hurting feeling of loneliness and deep desire to be important, about estrangement. It is a natural desire for every human being to feel a part of the society, to be important and recognized at least for and by the members of his family and friends and colleagues – these all are the important concepts of the narration.
The whole story is an interior monologue of a woman.
It is difficult to find the conflict of the story while reading the first pages, when you are made to feel the spirit of the Sunday day, park with people walking and band playing, when you see everything “through” the mind and feelings of Miss Brill.
At the beginning of the story she seems to live in an illusionary world of “theatre” as she calls it for herself:” They were all on stage. They weren’t only the audience, no only looking on; they were acting.” She doesn’t want to look at herself as some old bench sitter, she prefers to see her as an actress, whose absence in this play everybody would notice. This is a way to escape from gloomy feeling of non-importance to the society and loneliness. Her “little dark room” is a bright contrast to the park, she comes to.
There’s hardly a reader, who could feel indifferent to the emotions of the main heroin. After reading the story one would feel so sorry that she had heard that conversation of the young couple, which spoilt her day and her mood, brightened in a little naive way. Miss Brill seems a kind of a person, who is never able to do any kind of harm to others, who wouldn’t expect to be hurt by others either, who is ready to pay a lot of attention to the problems of other people, as she doesn’t want to live only in her small world of a dark room. But unfortunately, her attempt to leave it and move closer to others brings joy only for some short period of time and then turns into even more painful situation.
It is usually captivating for me to read a book discovering person’s inner world, feelings and emotional experience, that is why this one was also of a great interest to me. This book could probably teach to develop the feelings of sympathy and forbearance towards other people, who might even seem to be strange.
“One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
“Miss Brill” by Katherine Mansfield