The Autumn of the Patriarch
Without discrediting the merits of the other themes, in this novel and in most of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s work, history is a central theme and even more so in The Autumn of the Patriarch. For the autor, his collections of short stories functioned as literary exercise, and is evident because after reading them the impression left is that of a brief anecdote, which distinguish them of the novels. In the novels the narrative expresses itself in its totality, in them there is a clear story that opens and closes itself. After finishing one of his novels there is no traces of ambiguity or spaces for doubt, something that doesn’t always happen in the short stories.
The novels end with much more accuracy and intention. This precision is what you will find in The Autumn of the Patriarch (once you get over the difficult rhythm of the text) and history is one of its most fascinating aspects.
From a beginning the history covers all, from the history of the sickening character of a dictator to history itself–the one of academia–reinterpreted. The novel makes justice to history with its fiction, the novel comes across as more convincing than the official story because is the caricatured and carnivalesque version of history. The version remembered by the protagonists themselves: the people and the dictator. For example, in the novel we see all the recurring circumstances of a dictatorship, we see how the exercise of power transforms, confuses, fills of glory, and condemns the dictator. However, if something is essential in this novel is the satiric narration of the Latin American history–and what a spectacle!–, the novel tells the story of a whole continent through one character, the patriarch, and this character showered in mesmerizing attributes like his animal features, his divine qualities, and his power which can only be compared to that of god. This character is multidimensional, this character is all the dictators in one and his nameless Caribbean homeland is all the countries of Latin America in one.