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<<Biblioteca Digital del Portal<<INTERAMER<<Serie Cultural<<Haunting Demons: Critical Essays on the Works of Gabriel García Márquez

Colección: INTERAMER
Número: 64
Año: 1998
Autor: Isabel Rodríguez Vergara
Título: Haunting Demons: Critical Essays on the Works of Gabriel García Márquez


1. Translation by Edith Grossman of Del amor y otros demonios (Bogotá: Norma, 1994) ( New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1995) from which all quotations in this essay are taken.  The concept of historical novel in Latin America has recently been studied by Seymour Menton in Latin America’s New Historical Novel(Austin: University of Texas, 1993).

2. To Freud the demon could be a paternal figure and demonic possession would be what today is understood as neuroses disguised as organic disease.  The demons would be repressed instinctual impulses projected outward.  Sigmund Freud, “A Neurosis of Demoniacal Possession in the Seventeenth Century” (1923), in Collected Papers, IV (New York: Basic Books, 1959)  436-472.

3. The primitiveness of the archaeology reads in the novel as follows: “The foreman copied the information that was on each stone into a notebook, arranged the bones into distinct piles, and placed a sheet of paper with a name on top of every mound to keep them all separate.  And so the first thing I saw when I entered the temple was a long line of stacked bones, heated by the savage October sun pouring in through the holes in the roof and with no more identity than a name scrawled in pencil on a piece of paper.  Almost half a century later, I can still feel the confusion produced in me by that terrible testimony to the devastating passage of years” ( 3, 4).

4. The text says: “I, on the other hand, did not think it so trivial a matter, for when I was a boy my grandmother told me the legend of a little twelve-year-old marquise with hair that trailed behind her like a bridal train, who had died of rabies caused by a dog bite and was venerated in the towns along the Caribbean coast for the many miracles she had performed.  The idea that the tomb might be hers was my news item for the day, and the origin of this book” ( 5).

5. In Manuel Tejado Fernández, Aspectos de la vida social en Cartagena de Indias (Sevilla: Escuela de Estudios Hispanoamericanos, 1954) 45-79. This chapter tells the life story of the sorceress Lorenza de Acereto, taken from Inquisition Section of the National Historical Archives.

6. Clifford Geertz, The Interpretation of Cultures (New York: Basic Books, 1973), cited in the New York Times Magazine 9 April 1995: 46.

7. Hayden White, “The Historical Text as a Literary Artifact,” The Writing of History: Literary Form and Historical Understanding, eds, Robert A. Canary and Henry Kozicki (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1978) 41-62.

8. In María Elvira Samper, “Entrevista a Gabriel García Márquez,” Semana (marzo 14, 1989):  27-33.  For a study on this novel, see my book El mundo satírico de Gabriel García Márquez (Madrid: Pliegos, 1991).

9. For an analysis of the relationship between semiotics and psychoanalysis, see Kaja Silverman, The Subject of Semiotics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1983).

10. The description in the text of her birth at the edge of death is very interesting.  It says that Sierva María was near physical strangling by the umbilical cord and that she miraculously survived.  She looked like a “bleached tadpole, and the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck was strangling her” ( 42).

11. See Michel Foucault, Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason, translated by Richard Howard (New York: Random House, 1965, 1988).  Referring to life in the asylums of eighteenth-century France, Foucault points out how confusing and undefined was the concept of madness, similar to the confusion between rabies, diabolic possession, and madness in Of Love and Other Demons.  He says: “between madness, false madness, and the simulation of madness, the limit was indistinct—identical symptoms confused to the point where transgression replaced unity; further still, medical thought finally effected the identification over which all Western thought since Greek medicine has hesitated: the identification of madness with madness—that is, of the medical concept with the critical concept of madness” ( 276, 277).

12. The section on love ( 276, 277), is part of a paper read at the III Encuentro de Escritores Hispanoamericanos, [Vienna] (October 7-10, 1994).

13. In a number of instances courtly love is represented not only in the love poetry of Garcilaso de la Vega, but in that of the tradition of the Italian Francesco Petrarch (1304-1374), considered the first great humanist of the Renaissance, who had a decisive influence on Spanish poetry, especially in his Canzioniere and Trionfi, inspired by his love for Laura de Noves.  García Márquez reinterprets, adapting the idea of Garcilaso’s “Sonnet X,” which speaks of the clothes of his loved one.  When Delaura brings to Sierva the little suitcase her father had sent her, he “placed the articles on the table one by one.  He came to know them, smelled them with his body’s avid desire, loved them, spoke to them in obscene hexameters until he could tolerate no more” ( 118).  The tone of love after death is transmitted by Delaura, who was certain that “he had no room in his heart for anything but Sierva María, and even so it was not large enough to hold her.  He was convinced that on oceans or mountains, no laws of earth or heaven, no powers of hell could keep them apart” ( 122).

14. For a definition of courtly love, see Alex Preminger, ed., Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics (Princeton, N.J: University Press, 1965) 156-159.  A. D. Deyermond, in Historia de la literatura española: La edad media, (Barcelona, Ariel, 1973), discusses the locus amoenus, the meadow as a traditional figure of speech in Latin rhetoric, represented as an open forest or garden that frequently serves as the stage for amorous events.  Gonzalo de Berceo, born towards the end of the twelfth century, in his Milagros de nuestra señora was distinguished in the medieval Spanish tradition for his development of this topic, which continued in the Renaissance ( 109-123).

15. The discourse of the text suggests at the end of the novel a merging of the Yoruba approach to death and that of the Catholic faith, the existence of a life after death, a sense of immortality.  Sierva María continues living as a child with her “eyes radiant and her skin like that of a newborn baby.  Strands of hair gushed like bubbles as they grew back on her shaved head” (147).