Book Review – The Autumn Of The Patriarch by Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez (1975)

the-autumn-of-the-patriarchMy Rating: 4 of 5 ||  My Review on Goodreads  ||  More About The Book  ||  About The Author

They walk under its shadow. And it feels forever. They breathe their warm heart out under its all-pervasive blanket for so many countless instants (sometimes their entire lives) that the line drawing its glistening touch and blistering wrath becomes blurred.

Ask the earth that curled under its downpour, seek the fauna that lies huddled in apprehensive terror, summon the pebbles that were no match to its stony shower, shuffle the air that still carries its haughty scent in its chest, question the sun that drowned beneath its sultry curtain, sample the flowers that hold its diaphanous kiss on their bodies and they all would speak through their dilated eyes and smothered hearts of the vindication the Cloud scored on each of them, emphatically and routinely.

The Cloud roared. And so did the General whose seemingly perennial autumn spelt more decay than the word itself can ever hold in all its ramification. He thundered; hovering over people’s life like an alien whirlpool, sucking them dry of their joy and pride, lashing them with his barbaric rain of punishment and defecation, turning them blood red with his incessant shower of rancid pride, contaminating the chastity of innocent buds, stoning down the walls of wise ears with his indisputable authority and wiping clear the lifelines of cursed countrymen and political heads. He overgrew his dictatorship by his own ambitious standards and there lay a horizon where no light could be seen except for the floating candle, bewitching from the high, frosted glass-pane of his palace.

Then, he fell silent. Much like how when the pulse of the mighty black, gigantic, ravenous, whimsical Cloud is held in the excruciating shadows of solitude, it throws no beat. Because it is empty.

The General succumbed, at last, to the emptiness of his façade and rancour of his actions. After wandering in condemned streets, indulging in make-shift adultery schools and battling the crossed murderous dominions, his identity got gradually locked in those nebulous shackles which seemed romantic to a passer-by but were nothing more than a hot-melting liquid of loneliness and grief that seeped in his body slowly, displacing his cells of arrogance and power with acute precision. His family including his mother, his wife and a child, also got dissolved in the tornado of reckless complacence and the Cloud of his Being shrunk to its embryonic form, albeit with sprigs of death this time. And the vast sky of life finally sucked this Cloud into its throes, dismissing it into the nothingness of death.

Garcia Marquez’s prose needs a special mention here since this journey of the General read like an eternal prose; the rhythm overpowered me frequently with its mellifluous body and throbbing heart. Describing the restless sojourns that theGeneral undertakes to meet his secret beloved, he writes:

”… he went in civilian clothes, without an escort, in the taxi which slipped away back-firing the smell of rancid gasoline through a city prostrate in the lethargy of siesta time, he avoided the Asiatic din of commercial district alleys, he saw the great feminine sea of Manuela Sanchez of my perdition with a solitary pelican on the horizon, he saw the decrepit streetcars with frosted glass windows with a velvet throne for Manuela Sanchez…… God damn it, which house do you live in this clamor of peeling pumpkin yellow walls with the purple trim of a bishop’s stole and green parrot windows with fairy blue partitions and columns pink like the rose in your hand…”

The never-ending thread of honeyed words hit the heart soft, and sticky too. The juxtaposing emotions of characters was a beautiful case of panoramic writing, where too many striking elements made their presence felt with élan. Don’t be deluged under the avalanche of sematic wordsplay though. The sentences are long and breathless but you won’t miss a single stone lying beneath the velvety brook of prose if you set your sincere gaze upon it.

And Garcia Marquez and the General , both would not mind waiting for you to come under their Cloud ; nothing more satisfying to them than getting you hypnotized with their rainbow spell!

Clock-Leaves-Autumn

 

[Image courtesy 7-themes.com  ]

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