Book Review: The Autumn of the Patriarch by G.G. Marquez

For those who enjoy Magical Realism, Gabriel Garcia Marquez is one of the biggest names out there. Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982, he is undoubtedly one of the best stylists of this century. His prose is beautiful, his stories weave a mesmerizing and intricate web of situations and characters, and his settings are spectacular.

The Autumn of the Patriarch, the author’s favorite novel, is the story of lonely dictator, a grotesque character surrounded by enemies. He’s forced to political maneuvers and assassination to ensure his control over the state, and at one point, the population starts to view him as being immortal.

The novel is written in his unmistakable style, exuberant and impossible to replicate. G.G. Marquez found the inspiration for this novel from the lives of many real-life dictators, such as Stalin, Franco or Leonidas Trujillo, as well as several historical events from South America.
The Autumn of the Patriarch shows that all dictators that were once loved by their people, end up being enemies of their own nations. It’s a tale about atrocities committed in the past; it’s a tale trying to stop history from repeating itself.
The magical acts as a way of characterizing the dictator, of adding more flesh to the one who controls each and every element in the lives of his people and acts as if he were God. One of the most haunting scenes is that when the dictator has to sell the sea to the Americans, so he can pay off his nation’s external debts. Funny how the Americans actually take the sea and move it to Arizona.
Written in an often humorous and sarcastic manner, treating a theme that has long haunted South American writers, that of the all powerful dictator (The Feast of the Goat by Mario Vargas Llosa is another example), The Autumn of the Patriarch deserves to be read over and over again.

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