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The greatest of Latin America died: Gabriel Garcia Marquez

To old people I would say that death doesn’t arrive when they grow old, but with forgetfulness.”, Gabriel Garcia Marquez wrote this sentence. Latin America and the world hardly forget the work of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982, which died on April 17th of 2014. He passes away at 87 years old.

 Maquina de escribir by antpkrBy Maria Eugenia Fanti

Gabriel Garcia Marquez “Gabo” was the father of “Magic Realism” with his master novel “One Hundred Years of Solitude”. He has sold 50 million copies in more than 25 different languages. Garcia Marquez along with writers such as Julio Cortázar, Carlos Fuentes and Mario Vargas Llosa positioned the Latin American literature in the world.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez was born in Aracataca on 6 March 1927, Colombia. His childhood was spent in the care of his maternal grandparents, Nicolas Ricardo Marquez and Tranquilina Aguarán. For “Gabo” their grandparents were the source of inspiration for his stories, in particular for “100 Years of Solitude”.

At the age of twelve, Garcia Marquez won a scholarship to study at a boarding school in Zipaquira, near Bogotá. After he studied law at the Universidad National in Bogotá, but he did not finish. In 1947 he published in “El Espectador”, a Colombian Newspaper his first story “The third resignation”. From that moment he realize he want to became a Journalist.

In 1948 and 1949 he wrote for El Universal in Cartagena. Later, from 1950 until 1952, he wrote a “whimsical” column under the name of “Septimus” for the local paper El Heraldo in Barranquilla. During this time he became an active member of the informal group of writers and journalists known as the Barranquilla Group, an association that provided great motivation and inspiration for his literary career.

From 1954 to 1955, Garcia Marquez spent time in Bogotá and regularly wrote for Bogotá‘s El Espectador. After a while El Espectador sent Garcia Marquez away to Europe to be a foreign correspondent. In Europe, Garcia Marquez starts writing many of his novels: “No One Writes to the Colonel” (1961), “In Evil Hour” (1962) and some stories of “Big Mama’s Funeral” (1962)

He travelled and lived in several parts of the world until he came to Mexico City where he wrote the book that would change his life forever: “One Hundred Years of Solitude”.

Other important novellas are: Leaf Storm (1955), The Autumn of the Patriarch (1975), Love in the Time of Cholera (1985), The General in His Labyrinth (1989), Of Love and Other Demons (1994), Chronicle of a Death Foretold (1981) and Memories of My Melancholy Whores (2004).

Also he wrote great non-fiction Works such as: The Story of a Shipwrecked Sailor (1970)The Solitude of Latin America (1982),The Fragrance of Guava (1982, with Plinio Apuleyo Mendoza), Clandestine in Chile (1986), News of a Kidnapping (1996), A Country for Children (1998) and Living to Tell the Tale (2002).

In 2007, for reasons of health, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, has declared his retirement from public life. He has terminal cancer and sends this letter of farewell to friends and lovers of literature, I publish here in memory of “El Gabo”:

By Gabriel Garcia Marquez

If God, for a second, forgot what I have become and granted me a little bit more of life, I would use it to the best of my ability.

I wouldn’t, possibly, say everything that is in my mind, but I would be more thoughtful l of all I say.

I would give merit to things not for what they are worth, but for what they mean to express.

I would sleep little, I would dream more, because I know that for every minute that we close our eyes, we waste 60 seconds of light.

I would walk while others stop; I would awake while others sleep.

If God would give me a little bit more of life, I would dress in a simple manner, I would place myself in front of the sun, leaving not only my body, but my soul naked at its mercy.

To all men, I would say how mistaken they are when they think that they stop falling in love when they grow old, without knowing that they grow old when they stop falling in love.

I would give wings to children, but I would leave it to them to learn how to fly by themselves.

To old people I would say that death doesn’t arrive when they grow old, but with forgetfulness.

I have learned so much with you all, I have learned that everybody wants to live on top of the mountain, without knowing that true happiness is obtained in the journey taken & the form used to reach the top of the hill.

I have learned that when a newborn baby holds, with its little hand, his father’s finger, it has trapped him for the rest of his life.

I have learned that a man has the right and obligation to look down at another man, only when that man needs help to get up from the ground.

Say always what you feel, not what you think. If I knew that today is the last time that that I am going to see you asleep, I would hug you with all my strength and I would pray to the Lord to let me be the guardian angel of your soul.

If I knew that these are the last moments to see you, I would say “I love you.”

There is always tomorrow, and life gives us another opportunity to do things right, but in case I am wrong, and today is all that is left to me, I would love to tell you how much I love you & that I will never forget you.

Tomorrow is never guaranteed to anyone, young or old. Today could be the last time to see your loved ones, which is why you mustn’t wait; do it today, in case tomorrow never arrives. I am sure you will be sorry you wasted the opportunity today to give a smile, a hug, a kiss, and that you were too busy to grant them their last wish.

Keep your loved ones near you; tell them in their ears and to their faces how much you need them and love them. Love them and treat them well; take your time to tell them “I am sorry,” “forgive me, “please,” “thank you,” and all those loving words you know.

Nobody will know you for your secret thought. Ask the Lord for wisdom and strength to express them.

Show your friends and loved ones how important they are to you.

Send this letter to those you love. If you don’t do it today…tomorrow will be like yesterday, and if you never do it, it doesn’t matter either, the moment to do it is now.

For you, with much love,

Your Friend,
Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Photo by by antpkr / Courtesy of

Sources consulted:


BBC News

The Pacific Rim Review of Books