Journal of Arts & Ideas, no. 10-11 (Jan-June 1985) p. 19.


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Existential and Political Controls in Marquez^s Fiction

Eric Mottram

WHAT kind of power relations—to be giv^n as control operating in multiple actions between domination and submission—are coded in Marquez's fictions and his nonfiction statements ? What mythic,

economic, religious and erotic encodings of political order does his writing contain ? How far is the fiction system emancipatory or repressive within its proposals for pleasure and society ? For Marquez, as for any other writer of such ability, the real is 'historically produced and socially organized'^ 'human intersubjectivity'1 works out in exchange between imaginative fantasy and dominant facts in nonhuman nature. Marquez's texts, in particular, constitute a field of memories of narratives already told in some way to him, out of the history and fantasy of Colombia, and these are mediated through the intertex-tuality of his own fiction reading in both local and international literatures. He has articulated as much in his interviews. His fictions exist in his heritage in an intensely located sense, interpreted as exotic by patronising critics without knowledge of his culture, readers who interpret the Colombian scene as surreal or extravagant, fecund and savage, ornate and horrifying, and so on—these terms are culled from characteristic reviewers with broadly tourist attitudes towards foreign fictions.

But the fire that burns down 'the enormous mansion ofmoonlike concrete lost in the solitude of the desert, in which the matriarch rules, is literally 'the wind of her misfortune' for Erendira, enslaved by her grandmother into a life of 'sacrifices', a sleeping and sleepwalking life of labour subservience. And it is her enforced tiredness which places an unprotected candle on the night table. The matriarch interprets this as a debt to be paid by Erendira's sexual prostitution. The girl's energies are therefore placed in a totality of control. Ulisis, with his 'lonely maritime eyes' and a sailor's name, is seduced by love of her, but she is enslaved next to monks and nuns in the missionising Church, and then married off to an Indian boy—a sequence which is to show her life 'under spell'. Indeed, given a choice between husband and grandmother, she chooses the latter. Moreover, these events are presented as nature, law and religion. The matriarch Journal of Arts and Ideas 19


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