Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez

Fact is stranger than fiction. Or so the saying goes, at least. But as reality is multifaceted and elusive it can be hard to determine the difference between fact and fiction, and sometimes it may be more accurate to claim that fiction is part fact, and that fact is part fiction. The great Colombian author Gabriel García Márquez has stated that he loathes stories that are made up and – sure enough – the most fantastic parts of his novels are often deeply rooted in actual events.

García Márquez is mainly known for two of his novels: One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967) and Love in the Time of Cholera (1985). Both are masterpieces and the latter is one of the greatest love stories ever told.

As the story is rich and supremely well told it is easy to get swept away by its romantic traits, but what makes the novel great is García Márquez’s ability to show the complexity of romantic love. Fermina Daza, a beautiful and stubborn girl – based on García Márquez’s mother – is at the epicenter of Love in the Time of Cholera. When Florentino Ariza, a fictional character inspired by García Márquez’s father, one day encounters Fermina he falls in love and gets sick – lovesick, that is, a disease comparable to cholera. Florentino’s love for Fermina is as stubborn as she is, and his love isn’t all about sweetness and tenderness – it also gives rise to strong hatred: namely for the marriage between his beloved and Juvenal Urbino, a doctor famous for his struggle against cholera.

Florentino goes on with his life, a rather dramatic existence, at that. He courts hundreds of women, but remains true – in his heart – to the love of his youth.

Years pass, and along with Love and Cholera, Time plays a major part in this tale. The message resembles that of Tanekh (“the Jewish Bible” or “the Old Testament”): good things sometimes take time. Gabriel García Márquez has seen this in his own life. Like Jacob of Genesis, the author had to wait fourteen years before he could marry his beloved, and that she was worth waiting for is obvious. Gabriel García Márquez’s dedication of the epic Love in the Time of Cholera simply states: “For Mercedes, of course.”

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