The portrayal of politics in South American literature

Essay by DAN5High School, 12th gradeA, January 1997

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A major preoccupation with contemporary South American novelists, as seen with Gabriel Marquez's '100 years of solitude' and Isabelle Allende's 'The house of the spirits', is the traditional and long lasting conflict between the Liberals and the conservatives. Although a common preoccupation with Marquez, Allende, and various other Latin American novelists the manner in which this preoccupation is expressed varies considerably depending on the author. In '100 years of solitude', Marquez looks to satire in all it's forms, to express this preoccupation. This is contrasted with Allende's 'The House of the Spirits' in which she uses conflict in ideologies between generations as her method of exposition, as seen for instance in the conflict between Esteban Trueba (a true conservative) and his grandaughter Alba.

To see how Garcia and Allende treat political issues we must first examine why they chose to examine them. When Marquez wrote his first works Colombia suffered the second greatest American fratricidal war of the twentieth century, as a result of the assassination of the popular Liberal leader Jorge Eliecer Gaitan, in 1948.

His novels examine in his words '...motives for that violence.' The importance of politics in the Novel is reflected in the choice of title 100 years of solitude which correspond to the 100 years between the formation of Colombia, in 1830 to 1930 when Conservative homogeny ended. Allende on the other hand was the niece of the first Socialist president in Chile who was killed following the Coup.

The Oxford Dictionary defines satire as a piece ' which prevalent follies or vices are assailed with ridicule or serious denunciation.' This is exactly what Marquez has done. Hyperbole is well used in the novel in the form of 'Magical realism'. Marquez believed that 'Magical Realism' '...provides a magnifying glass so readers can understand reality...