Love in the period of decline
Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Memories of my Melancholy Whores
By Angelique P. Manalad, Contributor
Gabriel Garcia Marquez
A concept that would make everyone react in disgust: a 90-year-old retiring journalist who finds himself in the eve of his birthday wanting to feel his youth through a night of passion with a 14-year-old virgin drugged into service by a whorehouse.
Delivered by the Nobel Prize winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s in his trademark magic realism and translated in English by Edith Grossman, Memories of my Melancholy Whores challenges readers to sympathize with the narrator. It is a tribute to his lyricism and humanity that Marquez succeeds.
In a twist of fate, the narrator falls into a pattern of sleeping with the young girl in the literal sense of the word, finding love instead of lust in each night that he slumbers beside the child.
He recounts of his previous escapades with women as well as the horror of finding himself in love for the very first time at eve of his life. The narrator illustrates his inner conflict. Describing his passion for the child in letters written in his weekly column, readers are able to empathize with the joys and disappointments of finding love in the wrong stage of one’s life.
Said to be a close comparison to Vladimir Nabokonov’s Lolita, Garcia weaves his own words with a different pattern of exulting other obsessions more powerful than lust itself. Delgadina, the name given by the narrator to the child, was more of a symbol of hope, love and failure all rolled into one, rather than a whore as presented by the book. A young girl robbed off her adolescence was beautifully and intricately described in Marquez’s flow of words.
Though most critics claim that this work is in no comparison with the master’s previous works, Memories of my Melancholy Whores holds its own. It possesses charisma as much charisma as 14-year-old child and is as haunting as a realization of fostering a love forbidden.