Love In The Time Of Cholera


Love In The Time Of Cholera is a Nobel Prize winning novel by Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez, first published in Spanish in 1985. The book is set in an un-named city on the Caribbean coast over the adult lifespan of the main characters – roughly from the 1880's to the 1930's. It follows the love life of Florentina Ariza, a persistent man of romance, novels and most of all, letters. He falls in love with the other main character of the novel, Fermina Daza, during their early teens; a love that is entirely correspondence and passing at distance at public events. Unfortunately for Senor Ariza (spoiler alert) Ms Daza turns him down and marries a doctor who is prominent in the city. Thus begins the dominant dynamic of the novel – Ariza's decision to devote himself to her, to wait for his opportunity, if he has to wait for her husband to die of old age or accident if necessary. Perhaps surprisingly, Florentina Ariza avails himself of women, sexually and romantically, although he does limit his commitments. As a premise, this might sound like a yawning and protracted essay on unrequited love, and in many ways it is. I found it did swerve dangerously close to a sense of self indulgence, but there is a quality to the writing that never lets the attention drift from the story. It is detailed and clamorous, much like the sweltering days, sticky nights and the fevered passions of the protagonist. Throughout, the novel tests one's sympathies towards the lovelorn Ariza who, despite his total devotion, carries on a life of sexual indulgence that cares little for the feelings and life of those he, effectively, uses. Ariza's archaic, secretive and romantic optimism is established as an opposition to the controlled, dignified and public determinism of Fermina Daza and her husband. As the novel progresses, these two forces and approaches to life each become eroded in the face of time and the impossible progress of age. As time progresses and the characters find themselves aliens in their own city, their own society and to their own bodies, the novel brilliantly takes you from the certainties of their earlier years and their commitments, to the acceptance of time, life and even love. Not an easy novel to get through and appreciate, the style seems almost as monomaniac as the protagonist, but if you can adhere to it as he did you may find a surprising and rewarding denouement.

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