“Journalism is my vocation,” Gabriel Garcia Márquez has explained in countless interviews. In the great literary works of the Nobel Prize winner of 1982 one often feels the tightrope walk between hard-researched facts and the slightly exotic poetry of Latin America, which results in the so-called “magical realism”.
How extensive the journalistic oeuvre of today’s 78-year-old Colombian really is, can only be guessed, because the now published more than 800 pages comprehensive volume contains only works from Márquez ‘journalistic apprenticeship years from 1948 to 1952.
Already the young Márquez (we meet him here between the ages of 21 and 25) reveals a strongly polarizing streak, an affinity for daring metaphors and a good amount of courage for unpopular and contestable judgments.
Although Márquez today considers journalism to be an excellent literary writing training, as a young man he already recognized the swift transitoriness of journalistic everyday text and the often implicit lack of care: “Guilt is the ailment we fall victim to the day after yesterday.”
Many of the glosses and comments in the volume, which feature an opulent index of persons and subjects, refer to specific Colombian themes from the orbit of the two Caribbean cities of Cartagena and Barranquilla. But again and again you come across subtle, philosophically backed Sottisen on interpersonal relationships.
The most interesting and most controversial (from today’s point of view) are the passages in which Márquez talks about literature. More than fifteen years before his breakthrough as a writer, who succeeded him in 1967 with “Hundred Years of Solitude”, the young journalist unabashedly pushes poetry heroes off the pedestal and reveals who later will be one of his great role models. In November 1950 he writes: “For once, the Nobel Prize for Literature has been awarded to an author with countless merits.” Meant is the American William Faulkner – after Márquez, “the greatest novelist of the present and one of the most interesting of all times.”
In addition, he does not tolerate other “literary gods”, in the same article, the former prize winners Pearl S. Buck, Thomas Mann and Hermann Hesse are referred to as “baked baguette”. At another place he sent an anecdote about Thomas Mann to a well-read lawyer, who met him “weak and shaky” and cited as justification: “I am just recovering from the magic mountain.”
Hesse is also verbally slapped a second time, and Márquez quotes his mentor Ramón Vinyes, whom he wrote a literary memorial in his first novel, as the informant: “Vinyes wrote in this newspaper a criticism of the work of that author, the me To prove why Hermann Hesse – in my opinion – did not deserve the Nobel Prize for Literature. “
As a 23-year-old Márquez already mastered the questionable keyboard of everyday polemics like a master. Of course, one would like to call the young, impetuous man to reason, but even these undifferentiated, apparently precipitated from the gut judgments can already foreshadow the furor of his later literary works. Also the formulation mania, the pursuit of originality has apparently early roots, with a gentle smile Marquez reads Jean-Paul Sartre from the distance of Latin America in 1952 and designates him as an “existentialist pontiff”.
Once, however, the young lad had shown almost prophetic gifts when he wrote about Hemingway in 1950 (more than 10 years before his suicide): “His life in recent years seems to have been a strategic retreat, a death as voluntary as suicide.”
The advantage of this cheeky book is unquestionable, that you can consume it bit by bit and depending on your mood back to the page. In addition, there is a lot of forbearance – in the sense that Goethe said in his “Maxims and Reflections”: “If the youth is a mistake, it will be abandoned very soon.”