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Gabriel García Márquez’s two classics debut at Beida

MAY . 27 2013

Peking University, May 22, 2013: The Chinese version of two classics of Gabriel García Márquez, No One Writes to the Colonel (original Spanish title: El coronel no tiene quien le escriba) and Chronicle of a Death Foretold (original Spanish title: Crónica de una muerte anunciada), debuted at Peking University Hall on May 21.Three Chinese writers, Liu Zhenyun, Ge Fei and Mai Jia, shared their comprehension of the works with the readers.


Gabriel José de la Concordia García Márquez is a Colombian novelist, short-story writer, screenwriter and journalist, known affectionately as throughout Latin America. Considered one of the most significant authors of the 20th century, he was awarded the 1972 Neustadt International Prize for Literature and the 1982 Nobel Prize in Literature. He is best known for his novels, such as One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967) and Love in the Time of Cholera (1985). His works have achieved significant critical acclaim and widespread commercial success, most notably for popularizing a literary style labeled as magic realism, which uses magical elements and events in otherwise ordinary and realistic situations.


No One Writes to the Colonel was mainly introduced by Ge Fei, a professor of Department Of Chinese Language And Literature, Tsinghua University.The novel, written between 1956 and 1957 is the story of an impoverished, retired colonel, a veteran of the Thousand Days' War, who still hopes to receive the pension he was promised about fifteen years earlier. The colonel lives with his asthmatic wife in a small village under martial law. The action opens with the colonel preparing to go to the funeral of a town musician whose death is notable because he was the first to die from natural causes in many years. The novel is set during the years when martial law and censorship prevail.


“The author is deeply influenced by surrealism, which causes the exaggerated description in the works.” Ge Fei mentioned, “There are two outstanding advantages in this work. One is that the rich emotions contained in the language that other works cannot parallel. The other is the impressing characters created by the author. Gabriel García Márquez characterized them properly with his brilliant sense of judgement.


No One Writes to the Colonel may contain less writing techniques than One Hundred Years of Solitude. However, it can reveal the great efforts that the author has made to create the characters.” Liu Zhenyun commented the book.


As for Chronicle of a Death Foretold, Wei Ran, the translator of Chronicle of a Death Foretold, said that this novel was collected in the textbook when he studied at Peking University (Beida). He regarded this novel as the key to Latin America.


Chronicle of a Death Foretold describes the murder of a young man, Santiago Nasar, and the events leading to this death. It also follows some of the characters' lives after he is killed.


The murder occurs following Angela Vicario's wedding night, when her wealthy husband, Bayardo San Roman, discovers that she is not a virgin. San Roman returns Angela to her family, where she is brutally interrogated for two hours, finally confessing that Santiago Nasar was the man who deflowered her. Much evidence throughout the story suggests that this accusation is false. However, Angela's brothers, Pedro and Pablo Vicario, take her word for it and kill Santiago in broad daylight in a crowded public square.


Mai jia, a famous writer and scriptwriter in China, thought highly of the book. “I first read the book in 1992; it was just like ‘the delicacy when you are in hunger’. The plot of this novel can be summarized in 200 words, but the shock it give to us is limitless.” He also thought highly of the author,“If a writer can win the Nobel Prize twice, Gabriel García Márquez must be on the list.”


Then, three writers commented on the pattern of writing and the factors involved in writing. Liu Zhenyun thought that in a novel, a character revealed the society. Also, the emotions of the character revealed the politics and the environment of the society. “It is the feeling of the people that a writer wants to express, but not the politics. But a novel without a political stand is rare.” Mai Jia added.


In the Q&A session, Ge Fei answered the questions about the version of translation and the values that a good writer guarded.


Reported by: Meng Yiran

Edited by: Zhang Jiang