“El año de mis noventa años quise regalarme una noche de amor con una adolescente virgen.”
Un viejo periodista decide festejar sus noventa años a lo grande, dándose un regalo que le hará sentir que todavía está vivo: una jovencita. En el prostíbulo de un pintoresco pueblo, ve a la jovencita de espaldas, completamente desnuda, y su vida cambia radicalmente. Ahora que la conoce se encuentra a punto de morir, pero no por viejo, sino de amor.
Así, Memoria de mis putas tristes cuenta la vida de este anciano solitario lleno de man’as. Por él sabremos cómo en todas sus aventuras sexuales (que no fueron pocas) siempre dio a cambio algo de dinero, pero nunca imagino que de ese modo encontrar’a el verdadero amor.
Esta nueva novela es una conmovedora reflexión que celebra las alegrías del enamoramiento y contempla las desventuras de la vejez, escrito en el estilo incomparable de Gabriel García Márquez.
“In my ninetieth year, I decided to give myself the gift of a night of love with a young virgin.”
An elderly journalist decides to celebrate his 90 years in a grand way, giving himself a present that will make him feel like he’s still alive: a virgin. In the brothel of a picturesque town, he sees the young woman from the back, completely naked, and his life changes radically. Now that he meets her he finds himself close to dying, not of old age, but rather of love.
Memoria de mis putas tristes is the story of this eccentric, solitary old man, a narrative of his sexual adventures (of which there were many), for which he always paid, never imagining that this would be the way he would discover true love.
This new novel, written in Gabriel García Márquez’s incomparable style movingly, contemplates the misfortunes of old age and celebrates the joys of being in love.
"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.
Gabriel García Márquez, nacido en Colombia, fue una de las figuras más importantes e influyentes de la literatura universal. Ganador del Premio Nobel de Literatura, fue además cuentista, ensayista, crítico cinematográfico, autor de guiones y, sobre todo, intelectual comprometido con los grandes problemas de nuestro tiempo, en primer término con los que afectaban a su amada Colombia y a Hispanoamérica en general. Máxima figura del realismo mágico, fue en definitiva el hacedor de uno de los mundos narrativos más densos de significados que ha dado la lengua española en el siglo xx. Entre sus obras más importantes se encuentran las novelas Cien años de soledad, El coronel no tiene quien le escriba, Crónica de una muerte anunciada, La mala hora, El general en su laberinto, El amor en los tiempos del cólera, Memoria de mis putas tristes, el libro de relatos Doce cuentos peregrinos, la primera parte de su autobiografía, Vivir para contarla, y sus discursos reunidos, Yo no vengo a decir un discurso. Falleció en 2014.From The Washington Post:
"I decline to accept the end of man," William Faulkner said as he accepted the Nobel Prize in the grim dawn of the nuclear age. "It is easy enough to say that man is immortal simply because he will endure: that when the last dingdong of doom has clanged and faded from the last worthless rock hanging tideless in the last red and dying evening . . . there will still be one more sound: that of his puny inexhaustible voice, still talking."
Gabriel García Márquez, another Nobel Prize-winner and Faulkner's most famous disciple, puts it differently. In his new novel, an old journalist -- a third-rate hack, lifelong bachelor, "ugly, shy, anachronistic" habitué of a teeming brothel in a sad and nameless Latin American city -- struggles mightily against the last dingdong of doom and dying evening, but what he declines to accept is not the end of man. It is the end of one man -- himself. On the eve of his 90th birthday, feeling the chill bite of approaching death, he decides that what he wants more than breath itself is a night of wild love with a young virgin.
Put aside the disturbing aspects of that premise. Put aside the fact that García Márquez has been racing against the last dingdong of doom himself (diagnosed with lymphatic cancer six years ago, he holed up to produce his recent masterly memoir, Living to Tell the Tale). Put aside the slenderness of this work. (Every novel from García Márquez is smaller and smaller, a veritable recessional: One Hundred Years of Solitude was a mesmerizing 417 pages. Love in the Time of Cholera was 348. The General in His Labyrinth was 274. His most recent, produced 10 years ago -- Of Love and Other Demons -- was 147. This one, a spare 115.) Put all this collation and comparison aside, because García Márquez's new novel arrives with all the improbability of a miracle. A long decade has passed since his last novel. We thought we might never have another.
"Ah, my sad scholar," the brothel madam tells the nonagenarian when he calls her with the query he has in mind, "you disappear for twenty years and come back only to ask for the impossible."
"Inspiration gives no warnings," he replies.
Memories of My Melancholy Whores chronicles his encounter with the 14-year-old the madam procures for him. The girl is naked when he first sees her -- dark, warm, preened and beautified down to the hair on her pubis. Her breasts are small, her toes as long and sensitive as fingers, her skin aglow with perspiration. But for all her paint and powder, she cannot hide her haughty nose, her intense lips. She is vital as a fighting bull. And she is fast asleep.
The old man has never had sex with anyone except skillful whores, but he undresses, runs a finger along her neck. The girl turns her back and curls into her shell, stubborn as a snail.
This is new to him. He "had always chosen my brides for a night at random, more for their price than their charms, and we had made love without love, half-dressed most of the time and always in the dark so we could imagine ourselves as better than we were." He has never been forced to contemplate the act as he has now, in this twilight of his mortality, in this creep of his old age. As the night wears on, he discovers the pleasures of studying the female body. Come morning, the girl is still "absolute mistress of her virginity." The old man puts his money on her pillow, kisses her forehead and says goodbye.
But it will be as easy to bid her goodbye as it is for Humbert Humbert to leave Lolita; or Gustav von Aschenbach to turn his back on the boy; or Dante to ignore Beatrice. The old man cannot help himself: He dials the number again, calls the madam. He begins to live for the moment when he might actually possess the girl. He dreams, imagines, smells, tastes: And life -- against all evidence of its decrepitude -- is suddenly shot through with love.
What follows is a hallucinatory hunt -- for redemption, beatitude, rebirth. The journalist visits the heavily sedated girl again and again. He sings her songs, brings her gifts, decorates the tawdry room with paintings, reads aloud his favorite stories. And always, always, she is beautifully naked, sacredly pure, deep in slumber. Somehow, life goes on in that wayward paradise. Men die. Messages are scribbled on mirrors: "The tiger does not eat far away," the girl scrawls on a mirror during a rare nocturnal visit to the bathroom. "Dear girl, we are alone in the world," he writes in return.
As nights pass and he becomes addicted to the sight of her warm flanks, her bedeviling placidity, he comes to a jarring conclusion: She is the only woman he has ever loved. "Ah, me," he concludes, paraphrasing a poem of Leopardi, "if this is love, then how it torments." Attuned as he is to affairs of the heart, he begins to dedicate entire newspaper columns to the subject. The town sighs with comprehension. And something ancient and elemental begins to pulse through that sad and nameless Latin American city.
Like every García Márquez novel, this is a tale of obsession. But it is one so pruned, so pared, so truncated to bare essentials, that a reader will find herself turning to read every page again and again, parsing its pronunciamentos. Unlike the mesmeric novels of García Márquez's past, this one is skeletal, horned. Requiring near biblical contemplation.
And unlike One Hundred Years of Solitude or Love in the Time of Cholera, it has no town full of characters, no branching tree of ancestral relations. Our old man has no relatives to speak of, no intimates. Not that he regrets it. He expects to die alone, in the bed on which he was first deposited. He is "the end of a line, without merit or brilliance, who would have nothing to leave his descendants if not for the events" of this strange little story.
And yet, though it be the chronicle of one man's head and heart, Memories has its unforgettable characters: There is Rosa Cabarcas, the ancient wench with the clear, cruel eyes of a seer; Ximena Ortiz, the jilted bride with the quick, muscled loins of a wildcat; Marco Tulio, the editor whose charms would melt the most hardened of journalists. The novel may unfold more elliptically than readers are accustomed to (the imagery is packed; the prose, beautifully translated by Edith Grossman, downright runic), but the story is classic García Márquez. Its affect is rich. Multi-tentacled. Dendriform. Full of surprise. And the grace it finally delivers is clear: This is a story of love. A man mustn't die without knowing the wonder. When that red evening comes, García Márquez seems to be saying, we are all one and the same: third-rate hacks, sniffing out love, chasing salvation. And if we don't quite reach love, there will be consolations.
That is the quarry here. That is the gift. But pointing it out will not rob you of the pleasures of finding it. When all is said and done, you'll read this book for that unmistakable sound: ever more puny, but inexhaustible.
It is the voice of Gabriel García Márquez. Still talking.
Reviewed by Marie Arana
Copyright 2005, The Washington Post. All Rights Reserved.
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Book Description Knopf. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. 140004443X Ships promptly. Bookseller Inventory # Z140004443XZN
Book Description Alfred A. Knopf, 109pp, New York, 2004. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: NEW JACKET. First American Edition. Primera edicion norteamericana. NUEVO/BRAND NEW. Size: 8vo - over 7¾" - 9¾" tall. Bookseller Inventory # 001672
Book Description Alfred A. Knopf, 109pp, Nueva York, 2004. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: NEW JACKET. First American Edition. Primera edicion Norteamericana. "La primera novela de Garcia Marquez en diez anos". NUEVO/BRAND NEW. Size: 8vo - over 7¾" - 9¾" tall. Bookseller Inventory # 001673
Book Description Knopf, 2004. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P11140004443X