Gabriel García Márquez – Of Love And Other Demons

Posted on | May 30, 2011 | 8 Comments

"Of Love and Other Demons"Last year, I mentioned how I’m trying to read one book by Gabriel García Márquez every year. That was a resolution I made on reading my first novel by the Nobel Prize laureate (One Hundred Years of Solitude), but now – now, I’m thinking, why shouldn’t I read them back-to-back? That gives me ample time to go back and enjoy each of his books again, and again, and – you get the idea, right?

This novella re-affirms the conclusion I reached. At only 160 pages, it’s a fairly quick read, but I already feel like re-reading it, and losing myself in the wondrous world so skillfully created by Márquez.

Set in Latin America in the eighteenth century, this bleak story is about a twelve year old, Sierva Maria, who is brought up by the slaves in her parents’ estate. She imbibes the cultures, languages and traditions of the slaves, and is closer to them than to her own parents who have little, if any, time for her. Subsequently, she’s also prone to fabricating stories and exaggerating the truth, as per her convenience – sometimes, for no rhyme or reason (“She wouldn’t tell the truth even by mistake”).

When she is bitten by a rabid dog, despite not showing any signs of hydrophobia, people assume that she’s either rabid, or possessed by a demon.This changes her father’s attitude towards her, as he showers her with more love and affection, and tries to save her, but is forced to listen to the bishop, who believes that an exorcism is to be performed to cleanse the girl, despite the famous Jewish physician, Abrenuncio, dismissing the possibility of any such possession. In a world of wild beliefs and crazy superstitions, Abrenuncio is one of the few pragmatic minds, but the Bishop’s belief that rabies is one of the forms the demon can adopt to enter the human body is popularly accepted.

Subsequently, Sierva Maria is incarcerated to the convent at St. Clara, where the Cayetano Delaura, the chief exorcist, is assigned to her. Delaura, almost typically, falls in love with the girl, and tries to figure out a way to save her life, with the help of Abrenuncio. However, because the girl’s ways is so different from what they accept, it’s almost impossible to cast the accusations aside. Her familiarity with the slave traditions, and the ease with which she speaks their languages and blends in with them is essentially why no one believes that she is perfectly unblemished, despite the bite.

Delaura, an extremely religious person, and the Bishop’s trusted subordinate, tries sticking up for the girl, as love for the girl thirty years his junior, possesses him, but in a world where superstitions are predominant and rational reasoning dismissed, he is fighting a lost battle.

What are the demons though? Rabies? Traditions? Superstitions? Clashing of cultures – the Christians and the slaves? Or, love? And how does one overcome these demons? More importantly, can they be overcome?

People are desperate to cling on to the supernatural in order to explain some of the calamities that occur in their lives, at the expense of ignoring completely rational explanations. Is it that they don’t know better, or that they choose not to know better? In this incredibly dark and gloomy book, Marquez again creates a world that shows the class divide and how the religious customs take precedence over all else. Despite this being a comparatively short read, the depth of the story and the emotions it evokes linger on long after you put the book back on the shelf.

Have you read anything by this incredibly talented Nobel Laureate? Which book is your favourite?


8 Responses to “Gabriel García Márquez – Of Love And Other Demons”

  1. Steph
    May 30th, 2011 @ 11:11 pm

    I’ve read two Marquez’s to date, One Hundred Years, and Love in the Time of Cholera. Both were wonderful, but One Hundred Years has the distinction of being my favorite Marquez thus far. So lush and magnificent!

    Like you, I’d like to read the rest of Marquez’s works, though I’m not sure where I’ll go next. I’ve slowly been collecting his shorter novels when I find them for a steal at used bookstores…

  2. Sarah
    May 31st, 2011 @ 12:48 pm

    Wonderful review! I’ve only read Love in the time of Cholera and I don’t seem to ‘get’ it as much as others do: but I do want to do better.

    I actually have a GGM box set, containing ten books. Initially I was going to read Cholera and One Hundred Years of Solitude, and then, um, give the rest to charity…

    Don’t bar me from your blog! I am reformed! Definitely going to read all ten now, inspired by your review as I am :)

    (By the way, love how “one book a year” gives way to a reading orgy. And why not? Go for it!)

  3. mee
    June 2nd, 2011 @ 12:13 am

    I intend to read his books one per year too since One Hundred Years of Solitude! I actually have my eyes on this one because the plot just seems so crazy, so GGM :). But I think I’m gonna go for Love in the Time of Cholera first before his other works.

  4. Kinna Reads
    June 3rd, 2011 @ 1:05 am

    My favorite Marquez book is Chronicle of a Death Foretold. But One Hundred Years of Solitude is also special. Funny, I selected this book for a reread earlier in the year. Enjoy your adventure.

  5. Bellezza
    June 4th, 2011 @ 4:41 am

    I have yet to read a Marquez book, and so many people I admire and respect love his work (most particularly Love In The Time of Cholera). I must open one of them up soon! I’m not sure why I’ve been intimidated by him, when the Russian and Japanese authors I love seem just as complex as I assume his writing to be…

  6. anothercookiecrumbles
    June 9th, 2011 @ 3:38 am

    @Steph : I agree, my favourite remains 100 Years Of Solitude. It can’t get much better than that, can it? I think I need to re-read it. His shorter works are equally good and powerful. I would recommend the non-fictional News Of A Kidnapping – it was incredible!

    @Sarah : Noooooo!! Don’t give the books away!! News of a Kidnapping is amazing, and Memories of my Melancholy Whores… well, I can’t really use a word to describe it… and then there’s Chronicle of a Death Foretold which just well… you get the idea, right? :)

    @mee : That’s a good shout. I remember enjoying the read, albeit I can barely remember the story. Hope you enjoy it, and then come back to this one. Looking forward to your thoughts on all things Marquez.

    @Kinna Reads : My favourite is 100 Years of Solitude, but Chronicle of a Death Foretold is just – wow! It’s amazing how satisfying a book can be, despite the whodunnit remaining a mystery.

    @Bellezza : His works are far far easier than the Russian authors. My foray into Japanese literature has mostly been Murakami books, which are complex but relatively easy to read, so… can’t comment on that! Buuut, I really think you’d love Marquez, so please give him a shot. Thank you :)

  7. Claire (Paperback Reader)
    June 11th, 2011 @ 2:37 pm

    My favourites are One Hundred Years of Solitude and Chronicle of a Death Foretold; his short story (practically a short novella) “The Incredible and Sad Tale of Innocent Eréndira and Her Heartless Grandmother” is EXQUISITE. Love in the Time of Cholera didn’t wow me as much as I wanted it to; it was an effort (one I would reread though; I foresee me luxuriating in GGM’s prose to the end of my days). I have also read Memories of My Melancholy Whores and have all of his other novels and short stories on my shelves waiting to captivate me.

  8. Gabriel García Márquez – Leaf Storm : another cookie crumbles
    July 6th, 2012 @ 9:24 pm

    […] been just over a year since I read Of Love And Other Demons, so I figured it’s time to read another book by one of my favourite authors. Well, not […]

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