Of Love and Other Demons by Gabriel García Márquez

★★★☆☆ (3/5)

 A selection of my favourite passages from the book

  • The more illustrious the dead the more arduous the labor, because the workers had to rummage through the remains and sift the debris with great care in order to retrieve precious stones and articles of gold and silver.
  • In a few short years, however, she had been erased from the world by her abuse of fermented honey and cacao tablets. Her Gypsy eyes were extinguished and her wits dulled, she shat blood and vomited bile, her siren’s body became as bloated and coppery as a three-day-old corpse, and she broke wind in pestilential explosions that startled the mastiffs.
  • Everything was saturated with the oppressive damp of neglect and gloom.
  • She had begun to blossom under a combination of contradictory influences. She inherited very little from her mother. She had her father’s thin body, however, and his irremediable shyness, pale skin, eyes of taciturn blue, and the pure copper of her radiant hair. Her movements were so stealthy that she seemed an invisible creature. Frightened by her strange nature, her mother had hung a cowbell around the girl’s wrist so she would not lose track of her in the shadows of the house.
  • for many years he had not left his house except on great occasions, and for many more years there had been no occasions greater than calamitous ones.
  • He had invented a pill to be taken once a year, which enhanced one’s health and lengthened one’s life but caused such mental derangement for the first three days that no one but the doctor had dared to swallow it.
  • “The human body is not made to endure all the years that one may live,” he said.
  • At the end of the previous century, an entire family had consumed poisoned soup because none of them had the heart to poison only a five-year-old boy.
  • and the Marquis followed the bird in its fugitive flight until it vanished among the brilliant domes of the fortified city.
  • “I am afraid I do not know Latin,” the Marquis apologized. “There is no reason you should!” said Abrenuncio. And he said it in Latin, of course.
  • “Books are worthless,” Abrenuncio said with good humor. “Life has helped me cure the diseases that other doctors cause with their medicines.”
  • So unusual an incursion into a man’s trade was the explanation given for her losing her reason, and in so drastic a way that teaching her not to eat her own filth was a formidable task.
  • “Crazy people are not crazy if one accepts their reasoning.”
  • More than any other danger, the unblinking hunting mastiff that guarded his bedroom unnerved him. He said it himself: “I live in fear of being alive.” In exile he acquired his lugubrious appearance, cautious manner, contemplative nature, languid behavior, slow speech, and a mystic vocation that seemed to condemn him to a cloistered cell.
  • The fortune that came to her by water left by water, and she was at the mercy of the skins of honey and sacks of cacao that she kept hidden in various places so she would lose no time when her relentless longings pursued her.
  • “The Señora Marquise will die on the fifteenth of September at the latest, if she does not hang herself from the rafters first.” Unmoved, the Marquis said: “The only problem is that the fifteenth of September is so far away.”
  • “It is horrible,” said the Bishop. “Each hour resonates deep inside me like an earthquake.” The phrase surprised the Marquis, for he had responded with the same thought at four o’clock. It seemed a natural coincidence to the Bishop. “Ideas do not belong to anyone,” he said. With his index finger he sketched a series of continuous circles in the air and concluded: “They fly around up there like the angels.”
  • He spoke of his magical prescriptions, of the pride with which he foretold death, of his probable pederasty, of his libertine readings, of his life without God.
  • For the first time since losing his faith, he felt the urge to pray. He went to the oratory, trying with all his strength to recover the god who had forsaken him, but to no avail: Disbelief is more resistant than faith because it is sustained by the senses.
  • After taking their vows of poverty, silence, and chastity, their only communication with the outside world was a rare visit held in the locutory, where wooden jalousies admitted voices but not light. The locutory was situated next to the turnstile gate, and its use was regulated, restricted, and always required the presence of a chaperone.
  • Abrenuncio understood. He had always thought that ceasing to believe caused a permanent scar in the place where one’s faith had been, making it impossible to forget.
  • Delaura had dreamed that Sierva María sat at a window overlooking a snow-covered field, eating grapes one by one from a cluster she held in her lap. Each grape she pulled off grew back again on the cluster. In the dream it was evident the girl had spent many years at that infinite window trying to finish the cluster, and was in no hurry to do so because she knew that in the last grape lay death.
  • Delaura was aware of his own awkwardness with women. To him they seemed endowed with an untransferable use of reason that allowed them to navigate without difficulty among the hazards of reality.
  • She viewed with equal alarm the garden flowering with so much vigor that it seemed contra natura. As they walked across it she pointed out to Delaura that there were flowers of exceptional size and color, some with an unbearable scent. As far as she was concerned, everything ordinary had something supernatural about it.
  • The Abbess was terrified by the stains the water left on the walls. “Blood!” she screamed. Delaura challenged the frivolity of her reasoning. Just because the water was red, that did not mean it had to be blood, and even if it were, that did not mean it had to be diabolical.
  • “We cannot intervene in the rotation of the earth,” said Delaura. “But we could be unaware of it so that it does not cause us grief,” said the Bishop. “More than faith, what Galileo lacked was a heart.”
  • The Marquis used his remaining strength to get out of the hammock, fell on his knees in front of her, and burst into the harsh weeping of a useless old man. Bernarda capitulated because of the fire of male tears sliding across her lap through the silk.
  • And without giving his panic an opportunity, he unburdened himself of the dark truth that did not permit him to live. He confessed that every moment was filled with thoughts of her, that everything he ate and drank tasted of her, that she was his life, always and everywhere, as only God had the right and power to be, and that the supreme joy of his heart would be to die with her.
  • “When I stand and contemplate my fate and see the path along which you have led me,” she recited. And asked with a certain slyness: “What’s the rest of it?”“I reach my end, for artless I surrendered to one who is my undoing and my end,” he said.
  • “Into your hands at last I have come vanquished.”
  • The slave district, at the very edge of the salt marsh, was staggering in its misery. People lived alongside turkey buzzards and pigs in mud huts with roofs of palm, and children drank from the swamp in the streets. But with its intense colors and radiant voices it was the liveliest district, and even more so at twilight, when the residents carried chairs into the middle of the street to enjoy the cool air.
  • He stood without haste, put the chair back in its place, and left the way he had come, not saying good-bye, and not carrying a light. All that remained of him—a skeleton eaten away by turkey buzzards—was found two summers later on a path leading nowhere.
  • “You people have a religion of death that fills you with the joy and courage to confront it,” he said. “I do not: I believe the only essential thing is to be alive.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s