… wherein I”ll catch the conscience of the King.”
In 1954, the Colombian daily El Espectador sent one of its cub reporters, Gabriel García Márquez, to cover a mass anti-government protest in the remote city of Quibdó, in Chocó.
After a two-day journey through the jungle, García Márquez and his photographer finally arrived at their destination, where a a surprise awaited them: in Quibdó, all was calm. El Espectador correspondent Primo Guerrero had invented the events that he sent off to Bogtota to publish.
In other words, García Márquez realized full well that the protests never took place. Be that as it may, the young journalist told Guerrero he was not going to return home empty-handed. The two of them came to an agreement and — “with all the bells and whistles” — moved to organize a protest of their own to submit to the newsroom along with photographs.
The article appear in El Espectador with the subtitle “The secret history of a 400-hour demonstration. García Marquez states in this article that the protest lasted 13 days, “during nine of which it rained like mad.”
According to the report, protesters wept in the rain and washed themselves in the public street.
Years later, recalling the episode in an interview with reporter Daniel Samper, the writer acknowledged: “We made the whole thing up …”
A characteristic of the fictional world portrayed by García Márquez was his capacity to invent “a reality that overflows its boundaries,” as Claudio Guillén has said. Hyperbole and exaggeration are part of this technique.
“How common is exaggeration in the journalism of García Márquez?” In my doctoral thesis, I studied the promiscuous relationship between journalism and literature in Latin America.
In The Newsroom
In the course of his career, García Márquez worked as a reporter for various newspapers, magazines and news agencies. Consider the course of his career.
El Universal, Cartagena | In 1948, Garcia published his first articles and earned his first column, titled [“Hits and Misses”].
El Heraldo, Barranquilla | In 1950, he began editing international news and publish his well-known column Giraffe, a title inspired by his lover Mercedes Barcha,whom he would later marry.
Crónica | Revista de reportagens e crônicas esportivas, que escreve com amigos do Grupo de Barranquilla.
Comprimido | O periódico foi criado para ser “o menor jornal do mundo”. Foi um dos mais breves – durou apenas seis dias.
El Espectador, de Bogotá | no segundo maior jornal colombiano, o escritor publica em capítulos a grande reportagem Relato de um Naufrágo, em 1955. O texto teve grande repercussão política, motivando o exílio do escritor, que é enviado como correspondente à Europa.
Momento, da Venezuela | Na revista, García Márquez passa a experimentar. Segundo o argentino Tomás Eloy Martínez, nesse momento nasceu um “novo jornalismo” literário na América Latina.
Prensa Latina,de Cuba | O escritor passa a trabalhar na agência de notícias do governo cubano logo após a Revolução, tornando-se amigo pessoal de Fidel Castro.
Cambio, da Colômbia | Ultima revista onde García Márquez escreveu crônicas jornalísticas.
In the case of García Marquez, it is possible to detect exaggerations and inventions during the various stages of his life in journalism. At certain times, this aggressively inventive streak is presented openly and abundantly. At other times, with tact and discretion. This is the environment in which we understand what we call the the author’s trademark “magical realism.”
Peruvian novelist Mario Vargas Llosa, in his “História de um Deicídio” [ — the only work by the author not translated into English — ] documents the spectacle mounted by Garcia in Quibdó and says this is a reflection of his adventurous character and the pleasure he receives from unusual characters and events.
This is a theme in common with Llosa’s own best-known work, the delightful Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter.
According to Vargas Llosa, “what seduced” García Márquez about journalism was not the editorial pages but the work of the reporter in the field, “who equips himself to find the news, and if he does not find the news, invents it.”
There is something about this ruckus over factions and fictions and fractions and factoids that takes me back to my senior thesis at Pomona College oh so long ago. “Is Fiction an Illocutionary Force?” Based on the work of Moore and Wittgenstein and Austin and Searle, it was received warmly, but I could have used a semester at the Sorbonne or two, verifying my comprehension of the Nowspeak of the new sneakers, I mean sneakers, I mean peekers.
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