Chronicle of a Death Foretold Analysis

Magic realism is an artistic method in which magical elements are included in a realistic world view. The aim of magic realism is to find in the reality something that is strange, lyrical and even fantastic: the elements that make daily life accessible for poetic, surreal and even symbolic transfigurations.

Magic realism is also a literary movement that has an exceptionally concrete and visible history through time, as well as quite clearly traceable roots and pronounced ideology (basic concepts), narrative structure and discourse features, which makes the works of magical realism convenient object for a linguistic research.

The term "magic realism" exists in Latin American criticism and cultural studies at different semantic levels. In a narrow sense, it is considered as a trend in Latin American literature of the twentieth century. Sometimes it is treated in an ontological way as an intrinsic constant of the Latin American creative thinking. History of the term reflects the essential feature of Latin American culture - the borrowing of models and categories from western literature and adapting them to express own identity.

Firmly entered the scientific use of the literary studies, in the first half of the XX century, the term is still a matter of many debates and discussions.

This paper seeks to answer to what extent the key principles of Magic Realism are used in Marquez’s Chronicle of a Death Foretold.

The following elements can be intrinsic to magical realism:

-                     fantastic elements may be internally consistent, but never explained;

-                     the characters accept the logic of the magical elements in daily life;

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-                     numerous details of sensory perception;

-                     symbols and images are frequently used;

-                     emotions of a human as a social being are often described in substantial details;

-                     warped time; sometimes it is cyclical or even missed. One more trick that was used by authors of Magic Realism is the collapse of the time when the present time repeats or resembles the past;

-                     reversed cause and effect; for example, a character may suffer before the tragic events;

-                     elements of folklore or legends;

-                     events are presented from alternative points of view;

-                     past time contrast to present, the astral to the physical, the characters are compared with each other;

-                     open ending allows the reader to determine for himself what structure of the world was more truthful and relevant.

The most famous authors of magical realism are Alessandro Barikko, Amos Oz, Ben Okri, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Goran Petrovic, Gunter Grass, Jonathan Carroll, Davis Robertson, Jose Saramago, Jorge Amado, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Italo Calvino, Carlos Castaneda, Carlos Fuentes, Laura Esquivel, Leo Perutz, Louis de Berner, Gustav Meyrink, Miguel Angel Asturias, Milan Kundera, Milorad Pavic, Mikhail Bulgakov, Ernesto Sabato, Edward Whitmore, and many others. In 1950 - 60's, Latin American literature experienced a real mental explosion. There was even a specific term "Caribbean miracle" in the literature.

The key principles of Magical Realism are presented in many Marquez’s novels but especially in one of the most famous one - Chronicle of a Death Foretold. The use of this literary technique affects the narrative in the opinion and the distinctive style of the narrator toward the matter at hand. As well as many others creators of Magic Realism, Marques accepted bizarre events that could not have possibly happened in the reality without any possible amounts of shock. The novel Chronicle of a Death Foretold («Cronica de una muerte anunciada») was created in 1981; it was totally innovative in form. The author tells the story of the murder, perceived differently by different unreliable witnesses. A year after the release of Chronicle of a Death Foretold   Marquez won the Nobel Prize in Literature for his novels and short stories, in which fantasy and reality are combined, reflecting the life and conflicts of the continent. ”Magic Realism" is a reality in which elements of the real and the fantastic, domestic and mythical, real and mental, mysterious are combined organically.

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The superstitions of the different characters are the principle details serving to understand the nature of Marquez’s Magical Realism. The Chronicle of a Death Foretold makes oblique references to God and clairvoyance. There is also a lot of foreshadowing or signs after the death of the main character; it is quite bizarrely why they are so obvious after the incident was happened. Marquez wonders “There had never been a death so foretold” (Marquez).

One more element of Marquez’s Magic Realism is his passion for exaggerations. Pedro says that he could not sleep for 11 months because of pain; the reader understands that this fact is rather exaggerated. The kaleidoscopic imagery of the incident is one more effect of the magic realist style. The reader comes to the conclusion that people both are guilty and innocent. This is common  paradox of author’s manner.

It should be said that the genuine aspects of magical realism are present in Chronicle of a Death Foretold. What is more,this book presents the classic style of Marquez’s narration. It describes only one day and one death, but almost everyone in town is involved in this event. An extremely appealing fact exists in the book; “Garcia Marquez, a good friend of Santiago Nasar, is identified with him, even mistaken for him by Santiago Nasar's old, dying mother, in a brief hallucination. (Michaels)

However, the book is rather about the human factor in society than the fate and the circumstances. The fact that even in the modern world, people are constantly confronted with the problems of backwardness, rigidities of human nature is obvious. Everyone knows about the criminal intent, but the framework by which people are constantly surrounded, cannot allow preventing a monstrous act. The readers feel terribly sorry for Santiago Nazar, and through the prism of this feeling there exists the sorrow for humanity. The favorite Marquez’s paradox is presented in this book as well:  love is guilty in all human misfortunes, but happiness without it cannot be possible.

Many mysteries remained after reading a novel. Whether Santiago is dead or not? Among much indeterminacy - was the weather ''radiant'' or ''funereal'' on the fatal day? Was Bayardo a homosexual? Was he the devil? Was it Santiago Nasar who deflowered the bride? - it is curious to discover a mere inconsistency. (Michaels)

The phrase from the novel "Give me a prejudice, and I will move the world" (Marquez), can be considered as the slogan of Marquez’s Magic Realism.

Obviously, Chronicle of a Death Foretold exhibits a lot of the key aspects of a novel written in the Marquez’s magic realist style.

The story of the incident is retold by different people if five different chapters. This helps the author to make his narration a bit piecemeal. Perhaps, the name “chronicle” is not right enough because of many narrators’ inclusion of personal judgments.

The subtle intersection of the physical world with human values and the fantastic elements is a noticeable hallmark of magical realism of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. The novel, as many others magic realistic works, is also rather humorous. “He always considered death an unavoidable professional hazard.” (Marquez)

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When Santiago Nasar's poor mother becomes instrumental in his murder by barring the door, the moment is comic. (Michaels)

Using the exceptional variety, local, sensual material of Latino reality, the author shows the universal features of human existence. Weaving the tragic and the comic, serious and funny is among the important methods of the Marquez’s poetics.

In conclusion, it should be said that Marquez’s artistic heritage is the brilliant example of world literature. This novel can be called the quintessence of the vision of Gabriel Garcia Marquez as it is particularly clearly express basic elements of magical realism. The whole city knew in advance about the upcoming murder of Santiago Nazar, but different circumstances prevent them to warn him: someone was too lazy to do it; some did not care about it, someone wanted to help him but could not do it, and someone could help, but did not want to.  It is the sad philosophical story of how the fate of one man is intertwined with a thousand threads of chances. Much more attention is given for destiny in Chronicle of a Death Foretold. The events, which were not supposed to happen (because in this way they violate the usual course of things), do occur because of someone's will. The reader has to decide whether it is an irreversible course of things or the person can cope with it. The Marquez’s manner of narration helps the reader to perceive this novel as a film script.  The only thing that lacks during the reading this book in order to experience the purest emotions is the smell of the sea and Latin music.

In accordance with Michaels (2005) “if inconsistency, in life and novels, bespeaks the unthinkable, then Garcia Marquez's inconsistency here is expressive - deliberately or not. After all, the subject of the novel is the unthinkable.” (Michaels)

This novel should be recommended for admirers of creative life of Gabriel Garcia Marquez because Chronicle of a Death Foretold is oneof the brilliant examples of one of the most sophisticated styles of modern literature.

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