Book Review: The General in His Labyrinth

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Gabriel Garcia Marquez is one of the most influential Latin American writers of all time and one of the greatest Authors of the twentieth century. He is a modern day Shakespeare who bleeds vernacular beauty. Everything he ever published could be considered a masterpiece and is best known for his use of magical realism. The General in His Labyrinth is a magical story but not one of magical realism; it is a narrative about the great General Simon Bolivar. Like Marquez’s previous works, it radiates with intellectual beauty and every page is like trying to solve a Rubik’s cube; you have to constantly stop and think before you proceed on.

In summary, The General in His Labyrinth is about the last days of a great man and how he had chosen to spend the time he had left. Simon Bolivar is not just any great man though, he was a general who able to Liberate and unify five different Latin American countries within his lifetime and persuade legions of different peoples to follow his message of unification.

As per usual with Marquez’s works, the ideology of A Master on Periphery of Capitalism is seen throughout the novel. Marquez plays with this ideology beautifully as he seamlessly integrates this complex ideology within the book as natural evolution of Latin American culture. To be honest, I couldn’t simply define this ideology in a couple sentences but will try to give you my take on this insanely in-depth, multi-generational philosophy. In essence, General Bolivar is the evolution of Latin American culture. Yes, he was educated in Europe and enjoys many facets of European culture but that does not mean he is not distinctly Latin American, he lives, breathes and dies for his motherland. It is impossible not to have European influence in any American country; every country in the Western Hemisphere has at one point in its history had extensive relations or has been ruled by European nations. So yes, Europe has left their footprint on these countries but that doesn’t mean these countries don’t have their own culture. Just because countries like Venezuela, Ecuador, and Bolivia were once colonized Spanish countries doesn’t mean that everything that comes after Spanish rule is Spanish. That also doesn’t mean that anything that comes out of the sphere of European influence is inferior either.

General Bolivar is essentially the embodiment of this evolutionary process away from this sphere of influence and into something new, something different. Bolivar was educated in Europe, followed many European customs, spoke many European languages, and drove many Europeans out of Latin America. The General in His Labyrinth is a beautiful story about a man who would do anything to save his country and it is about a man who spends his last days trying to do just that.

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