Gabriel García Marquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera: Love and Death as New-World Mosaic

Lauren M. P. Derby

Abstract


From title to ambiguous ending, Gabriel García Marquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera explores the intimate and ever-altering relationship between love and death, a complex relationship directly attributable to the novel’s New-World Baroque essence. Most studies of García Marquez’s writings focus on his development of Magical Realism. Far less attention has been paid to Love in the Time of Cholera’s genesis in what Alejo Carpentier identifies as Latin America’s Baroque spirit, an artistic impulse far outliving the seventeenth century explosion of opulent European plastic arts in the Baroque style. Among the defining features of this Baroque spirit is coincidentia oppositorum, the conjoining of opposites—elements, emotions, actions—usually considered contradictory. Love in the Time of Cholera exhibits this artistic trope in its entwining of transcendence and naturalism, otherworldliness and eroticism. This essay examines the productive tension the novel creates between transcendental love and corporeal death. The novel’s protagonist Florentino Ariza stands the embodiment of the proliferating love/death relationship which engages the Baroque stylistic strategy of horror vacui (fear of empty space) as a means of intensifying the novel’s thematic coincidencia oppositorum. By exploring the way love defeats death (Florentino’s obsessive preservation of himself for love) even as death ennobles love (via its erasures of marital conflict), this study offers a Baroque lens through which Love in the Time of Cholera may be viewed. Through this lens, the novel emerges as a literary manifestation of the Baroque need to overwhelm human reason and inflame the soul with passion.

Keywords


Love; Death; Baroque; Latin American Literature; Garcia Marquez

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