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del Amor y Otros Demonios (Vintage Espanol) by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
del Amor y Otros Demonios (Vintage Espanol)

poetomachia, March 30, 2012

Gabriel Garcia Marquez had heard of a young girl whose hair grew even after death. This legend told by his grandmother became truth when, while he reported on the burial crypts in Cartagena, he discovered an identical phenomenon. The culmination of events led to Del Amor y Otros Demonios (Of Love and Other Demons), the moving and endearing commentary on love and pestilence. The protagonist in this novel, Sierva Maria de Todos los Angeles, contracts rabies from a dog while in the marketplace. Because of her parents’ negligence, she could not be cured. Instead, she undergoes treatment tantamount to torture. This leads to her to become crazed, and she is sent to a convent for an exorcism. Padre Delaura befriends her amidst her pain, and their love amidst tribulations and turmoil becomes the focus of this brilliant and well-written novel.

Marquez crafts the novel as though it were an Arthurian legend, and the writing style’s consequent simplicity draws the reader in. The author takes advantage of the succinct Spanish structure of indirect object pronouns and reflexive verbs in order to eliminate unneeded words. For example, he writes, “Sin embargo, Bernarda no se preocupó cuando se lo contaron” (However, Bernarda did not preoccupy herself with such things when they mattered)” (13).The sentences are simple, intermixed with compound sentences and a smattering of complex ones. Even the dialog possesses a unique brevity. “‘Claro’, dijo. ‘¿Cuántos cumple?’ ‘Doce’, dijo Bernarda. ‘¿Apenas doce?’” (“Of course,” he said. How old is she turning?” “Twelve,” said Bernarda. “Just twelve?”) (11). Despite this easy style, the pages are rife with description. Marquez shifts the focus to different characters to show their reasoning and emotions. Events are juxtaposed alongside fantastical myths. Slaves’ swollen and disfigured cadavers drift within the harbor, an army of rabid monkeys descended upon the town. Because Marquez includes such information, the reader better understands the lurking thematic elements.

The novel is rife with troubled relationships. The marquise and Bernarda, his untitled wife, detest each other and resent their daughter. When Sierva undergoes treatment, however, the marquise tries to make her happy, and when she leaves for the exorcism, the marquise visits her. He says, “Siento que la conozco menos cuanto más la conozco” (I feel that I understand her less the more I know her) (69). This shows that familial love is innate, buried beneath the surface. No matter how estranged, the love persists. The complexity of the emotions, stands the test of Sierva’s trials. The same is for Delaura’s. Though he later leaves for a leper hospital, his feelings remain the same. He says, “Muero de amor por ella” (I die of love for her) (89). This shows how painful the separation is for Delaura, how complex his feelings for Sirvea. That her hair grows even after death symbolizes how she has overcome her tribulations and remains pure, in love and sincerity, even in death.

The beautiful, simple craftsmanship weaves the themes together. One is unable to confront Sierva’s and Delaura’s love without confronting the destructive death and distance cleft between them. It is impossible to analyze their separation without analyzing the unwavering faith in face of the reality before them. Del Amor y Otros Demonios stands as a paramount of literature and is well worth the read.
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