Journal of Arts & Ideas, no. 10-11 (Jan-June 1985) p. 37.


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Marquez and the Politics of the Possible

Kumkum Sangari

.^— F Marquez is one of the finest writers from the Third World' (a term which • both signifies and blurs the functioning of an economic, political and I imaginary geography able to unite vastly differentiated areas of the world •^^ into a single 'underdeveloped' terrain), then he is also a telling example of how such writing is consumed in the 'West' (a term produced to opposite effect by the same procedures). The non-Western is aligned to the 'postmodern'—at present the dominant Western mode—through various interpretative moves. At a seminar in New Delhi in 1983 Raymond Federman (postmodern writer and critic) read One Hundred Years of Solitude as a self-referential manuscript floating in a sea oftextuality, deconstructed it as closing in on itself in a euphoric aporia. In Teaching the Text Susan Kappeler concludes of the same novel: 'the interpretation of the past and the history of the future conflate in that instant of the present where living and reading, historical being and its interpretation, merge together in an insoluble hermeneutical circle'. Such formalist readings, based on the notion of the autonomous text, are an obvious but nevertheless effective way ofdecontextualising a novel, making it safe for consumption as yet another postmodern text.

However, the problem does not go away in readings which are more attentive to a distinct Latin American context. In Time and the Novel, Patricia Tobin reads One Hundred Years as a mythological narrative which not only testifies to the absence of a historical consciousness, i.e., a sense of time as linear order, but also 'points to a whole continent that resists assimilation in the Western race towards progress'. In such an account the 'stagnation' of Latin America comes perilously near to becoming an index of its inherent weakness, its internal inability to change. But miraculously in this very local disregard for progress may lie the possibility of universal regeneration—'Marquez seems to be suggesting that the other side of historical failure is mythical hope, and the Latin America that does nothing useful may become... the birthing place of a sense 6f community, at once old and very new'. Here we have a familiar orientalist pincer movement with a new twist. Marvellous realism is given an ontological basis

Journal of Arts and Ideas 37


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