Chronicle of a Death Foretold

( 53 )

Overview

A man returns to the town where a baffling murder took place 27 years earlier, determined to get to the bottom of the story. Just hours after marrying the beautiful Angela Vicario, everyone agrees, Bayardo San Roman returned his bride in disgrace to her parents. Her distraught family forced her to name her first lover; and her twin brothers announced their intention to murder Santiago Nasar for dishonoring their sister.
Yet if everyone knew the murder was going to happen, why ...
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Chronicle of a Death Foretold

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Overview

A man returns to the town where a baffling murder took place 27 years earlier, determined to get to the bottom of the story. Just hours after marrying the beautiful Angela Vicario, everyone agrees, Bayardo San Roman returned his bride in disgrace to her parents. Her distraught family forced her to name her first lover; and her twin brothers announced their intention to murder Santiago Nasar for dishonoring their sister.
Yet if everyone knew the murder was going to happen, why did no one intervene to stop it? The more that is learned, the less is understood, and as the story races to its inexplicable conclusion, an entire society--not just a pair of murderers—is put on trial.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Exquisitely harrowing . . . very strange and brilliantly conceived . . .a sort of metaphysical murder mystery.”—The New York Times Book Review

“This investigation of an ancient murder takes on the quality of a hallucinatory exploration, a deep, groping search into the gathering darkness of human intentions for a truth that continually slithers away.” –The New York Review of Books

“Brilliant . . . A small masterpiece . . . we can almost see, smell and hear Garcia Marquez’s Caribbean backwater and its inhabitants.”—San Francisco Chronicle

“As pungent and memorable as a sharp spice, an examination of the nature of complicity and fate . . . an exquisite performance.” –The Christian Science Monitor

"A tour de force . . . In prose that is spare yet heavy with meaning, Garcia Marquez gives us not merely a chronicle but a portrait of the town and its collective psyche . . . not merely a family but an entire culture.” –The Washington Post Book World

Christopher Lehmann-Haupt
''Chronicle'' is not nearly so fantastic as Garcia Marquez's earlier novels. It contains a powerfully plausible plot - a dream-like detective story, really, that pursues the questions of why and how two young men have undertaken a brutal murder that they actually had not wanted to commit....I found ''Chronicle of a Death Foretold'' by far the author's most absorbing work to date. I read it through in a flash, and it made the back of my neck prickle. -- New York Times
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781400034710
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/7/2003
  • Series: Vintage International Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 128
  • Sales rank: 913
  • Product dimensions: 5.16 (w) x 7.96 (h) x 0.36 (d)

Meet the Author

Gabriel García Márquez
Gabriel García Márquez was born in Colombia in 1927. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1982. He is the author of many works of fiction and nonfiction, including One Hundred Years of Solitude, Love In The Time Cholera, The Autumn Of The Patriarch, The General In His Labyrinth, and News Of A Kidnapping. He died in 2014.

Biography

Gabriel García Márquez is the product of his family and his nation. Born in the small coastal town of Aracataca in northern Colombia, he was raised by his maternal grandparents. As a child, he was mesmerized by stories spun by his grandmother and her sisters -- a rich gumbo of superstitions, folk tales, and ghost stories that fired his youthful imagination. And from his grandfather, a colonel in Colombia's devastating Civil War, he learned about his country's political struggles. This potent mix of Liberal politics, family lore, and regional mythology formed the framework for his magical realist novels.

When his grandfather died, García Márquez was sent to Sucre to live (for the first time) with his parents. He attended university in Bogotá, where he studied law in accordance with his parents' wishes. It was here that he first read The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka and discovered a literature he understood intuitively -- one with nontraditional plots and structures, just like the stories he had known all his life. His studies were interrupted when the university was closed, and he moved back north, intending to pursue both writing and law; but before long, he quit school to pursue a career in journalism.

In 1954 his newspaper sent García Márquez on assignment to Italy, marking the start of a lifelong self-imposed exile from the horrors of Colombian politics that took him to Barcelona, Paris, New York, and Mexico. Influenced by American novelist William Faulkner, creator of the fictionalized Yoknapatawpha County, and by the powerful intergenerational tragedies of the Greek dramatist Sophocles, García Márquez began writing fiction, honing a signature blend of fantasy and reality that culminated in the 1967 masterpiece One Hundred Years of Solitude. This sweeping epic became an instant classic and set the stage for more bestselling novels, including Love in the Time of Cholera, Love and Other Demons, and Memories of My Melancholy Whores. In addition, he has completed the first volume of a shelf-bending memoir, and his journalism and nonfiction essays have been collected into several anthologies.

In 1982, García Márquez was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. In his acceptance speech, he called for a "sweeping utopia of life, where no one will be able to decide for others how they die, where love will prove true and happiness be possible, and where the races condemned to one hundred years of solitude will have, at last and forever, a second opportunity on earth." Few writers have pursued that utopia with more passion and vigor than this towering 20th-century novelist.

Good To Know

Gabriel José García Márquez' affectionate nickname is Gabo.

García Márquez' first two novellas were completed long before their actual release dates, but might not have been published if it weren't for his friends, who found the manuscripts in a desk drawer and a suitcase, and sent them in for publication.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Gabriel José García Márquez
    2. Hometown:
      Mexico City, Mexico
    1. Date of Birth:
      March 6, 1928
    2. Place of Birth:
      Aracataca, Colombia
    1. Education:
      Universidad Nacional de Colombia, 1947-48, and Universidad de Cartagena, 1948-49

Read an Excerpt

ON THE DAY they were going to kill him, Santiago Nasar got up at five-thirty in the morning to wait for the boat the bishop was coming on. He'd dreamed he was going through a grove of timber trees where a gentle drizzle was falling, and for an instant he was happy in his dream, but when he awoke he felt completely spattered with bird shit. "He was always dreaming about trees," Plácida Linero, his mother, told me twenty-seven years later, recalling the details of that distressing Monday. "The week before, he'd dreamed that he was alone in a tinfoil airplane and flying through the almond trees without bumping into anything," she said to me. She had a well-earned reputation as an accurate interpreter of other people's dreams, provided they were told her before eating, but she hadn't noticed any ominous augury in those two dreams of her son's, or in the other dreams of trees he'd described to her on the mornings preceding his death.

Nor did Santiago Nasar recognize the omen. He had slept little and poorly, without getting undressed, and he woke up with a headache and a sediment of copper stirrup on his palate, and he interpreted them as the natural havoc of the wedding revels that had gone on until after midnight. Furthermore: all the many people he ran into after leaving his house at five minutes past six and until he was carved up like a pig an hour later remembered him as being a little sleepy but in a good mood, and he remarked to all of them in a casual way that it was a very beautiful day. No one was certain if he was referring to the state of the weather. Many people coincided in recalling that it was a radiant morning with a sea breeze coming in through the banana groves, as was to be expected in a fine February of that period. But most agreed that the weather was funereal, with a cloudy, low sky and the thick smell of still waters, and that at the moment of the misfortune a thin drizzle was falling like the one Santiago Nasar had seen in his dream grove. I was recovering from the wedding revels in the apostolic lap of Mariá Alejandrina Cervantes, and I only awakened with the clamor of the alarm bells, thinking they had turned them loose in honor of the bishop.

Santiago Nasar put on a shirt and pants of white linen, both items unstarched, just like the ones he'd put on the day before for the wedding. It was his attire for special occasions. If it hadn't been for the bishop's arrival, he would have dressed in his khaki outfit and the riding boots he wore on Mondays to go to The Divine Face, the cattle ranch he'd inherited from his father and which he administered with very good judgment but without much luck. In the country he wore a .357 Magnum on his belt, and its armored bullets, according to what he said, could cut a horse in two through the middle. During the partridge season he would also carry his falconry equipment. In the closet he kept a Mannlicher Schoenauer .30-06 rifle, a .300 Holland & Holland Magnum rifle, a .22 Hornet with a double-powered telescopic sight, and a Winchester repeater. He always slept the way his father had slept, with the weapon hidden in the pillowcase, but before leaving the house that day he took out the bullets and put them in the drawer of the night table. "He never left it loaded," his mother told me. I knew that, and I also knew that he kept the guns in one place and hid the ammunition in another far removed so that nobody, not even casually, would yield to the temptation of loading them inside the house. It was a wise custom established by his father ever since one morning when a servant girl had shaken the case to get the pillow out and the pistol went off as it hit the floor and the bullet wrecked the cupboard in the room, went through the living room wall, passed through the dining room of the house next door with the thunder of war, and turned a life-size saint on the main altar of the church on the opposite side of the square to plaster dust. Santiago Nasar, who was a young child at the time, never forgot the lesson of that accident.

The last image his mother had of him was of his fleeting passage through the bedroom. He'd wakened her while he was feeling around trying to find an aspirin in the bathroom medicine chest, and she turned on the light and saw him appear in the doorway with a glass of water in his hand. So she would remember him forever. Santiago Nasar told her then about the dream, but she didn't pay any great attention to the trees.

"Any dream about birds means good health," she said.

She had watched him from the same hammock and in the same position in which I found her prostrated by the last lights of old age when I returned to this forgotten village, trying to put the broken mirror of memory back together from so many scattered shards. She could barely make out shapes in full light and had some medicinal leaves on her temples for the eternal headache that her son had left her the last time he went through the bedroom. She was on her side, clutching the cords at the head of the hammock as she tried to get up, and there in the half shadows was the baptistry smell that had startled me on the morning of the crime.

No sooner had I appeared on the threshold than she confused me with the memory of Santiago Nasar. "There he was," she told me. "He was dressed in white linen that had been washed in plain water because his skin was so delicate that it couldn't stand the noise of starch." She sat in the hammock for a long time, chewing pepper cress seeds, until the illusion that her son had returned left her. Then she sighed: "He was the man in my life."

I saw him in her memory. He had turned twenty-one the last week in January, and he was slim and pale and had his father's Arab eyelids and curly hair. He was the only child of a marriage of convenience without a single moment of happiness, but he seemed happy with his father until the latter died suddenly, three years before, and he continued seeming to be so with his solitary mother until the Monday of his death. From her he had inherited a sixth sense. From his father he learned at a very early age the manipulation of firearms, his love for horses, and the mastery of high-flying birds of prey, but from him he also learned the good arts of valor and prudence. They spoke Arabic between themselves, but not in front of Plácida Linero, so that she wouldn't feel excluded. They were never seen armed in town, and the only time they brought in their trained birds was for a demonstration of falconry at a charity bazaar. The death of his father had forced him to abandon his studies at the end of secondary school in order to take charge of the family ranch. By his nature, Santiago Nasar was merry and peaceful, and openhearted.

On the day they were going to kill him, his mother thought he'd got his days mixed up when she saw him dressed in white. "I reminded him that it was Monday," she told me. But he explained to her that he'd got dressed up pontifical style in case he had a chance to kiss the bishop's ring. She showed no sign of interest. "He won't even get off the boat," she told him. "He'll give an obligatory blessing, as always, and go back the way he came. He hates this town."

Santiago Nasar knew it was true, but church pomp had an irresistible fascination for him. "It's like the movies," he'd told me once. The only thing that interested his mother about the bishop's arrival, on the other hand, was for her son not to get soaked in the rain, since she'd heard him sneeze while he was sleeping. She advised him to take along an umbrella, but he waved good-bye and left the room. It was the last time she saw him.

Victoria Guzmán, the cook, was sure that it hadn't rained that day, or during the whole month of February. "On the contrary," she told me when I came to see her, a short time before her death. "The sun warms things up earlier than in August." She had been quartering three rabbits for lunch, surrounded by panting dogs, when Santiago Nasar entered the kitchen. "He always got up with the face of a bad night," Victoria Guzmán recalled without affection. Divina Flor, her daughter, who was just coming into bloom, served Santiago Nasar a mug of mountain coffee with a shot of cane liquor, as on every Monday, to help him bear the burden of the night before. The enormous kitchen, with the whispers from the fire and the hens sleeping on their perches, was breathing stealthily. Santiago Nasar swallowed another aspirin and sat down to drink the mug of coffee in slow sips, thinking just as slowly, without taking his eyes off the two women who were disemboweling the rabbits on the stove. In spite of her age, Victoria Guzmán was still in good shape. The girl, as yet a bit untamed, seemed overwhelmed by the drive of her glands. Santiago Nasar grabbed her by the wrist when she came to take the empty mug from him.

"The time has come for you to be tamed," he told her.

Victoria Guzmán showed him the bloody knife.

"Let go of her, white man," she ordered him seriously. "You won't have a drink of that water as long as I'm alive."

She'd been seduced by Ibrahim Nasar in the fullness of her adolescence. She'd made love to him in secret for several years in the stables of the ranch, and he brought her to be a house servant when the affection was over. Divina Flor, who was the daughter of a more recent mate, knew that she was destined for Santiago Nasar's furtive bed, and that idea brought out a premature anxiety in her. "Another man like that hasn't ever been born again," she told me, fat and faded and surrounded by the children of other loves. "He was just like his father," Victoria Guzmán answered her. "A shit." But she couldn't avoid a wave of fright as she remembered Santiago Nasar's horror when she pulled out the insides of a rabbit by the roots and threw the steaming guts to the dogs.

"Don't be a savage," he told her. "Make believe it was a human being."

Victoria Guzman needed almost twenty years to understand that a man accustomed to killing defenseless animals could suddenly express such horror. "Good heavens," she explained with surprise. "All that was such a revelation." Nevertheless, she had so much repressed rage the morning of the crime that she went on feeding the dogs with the insides of the other rabbits, just to embitter Santiago Nasar's breakfast. That's what they were up to when the whole town awoke with the earthshaking bellow of the bishop's steamboat.

The house was a former warehouse, with two stories, walls of rough planks, and a peaked tin roof where the buzzards kept watch over the garbage on the docks. It had been built in the days when the river was so usable that many seagoing barges and even a few tall ships made their way up there through the marshes of the estuary. By the time Ibrahim Nasar arrived with the last Arabs at the end of the civil wars, seagoing ships no longer came there because of shifts in the river, and the warehouse was in disuse. Ibrahim Nasar bought it at a cheap price in order to set up an import store that he never did establish, and only when he was going to be married did he convert it into a house to live in. On the ground floor he opened up a parlor that served for everything, and in back he built a stable for four animals, the servants' quarters, and a country kitchen with windows opening onto the dock, through which the stench of the water came in at all hours. The only thing he left intact in the parlor was the spiral staircase rescued from some shipwreck. On the upper floor, where the customs offices had been before, he built two large bedrooms and five cubbyholes for the many children he intended having, and he constructed a wooden balcony that overlooked the almond trees on the square, where Plácida Linero would sit on March afternoons to console herself for her solitude. In the front he kept the main door and built two full-length windows with lathe-turned bars. He also kept the rear door, except a bit taller so that a horse could enter through it, and he kept a part of the old pier in use. That was always the door most used, not only because it was the natural entry to the mangers and the kitchen, but because it opened onto the street that led to the new docks without going through the square. The front door, except for festive occasions, remained closed and barred. Nevertheless, it was there, and not at the rear door, that the men who were going to kill him waited for Santiago Nasar, and it was through there that he went out to receive the bishop, despite the fact that he would have to walk completely around the house in order to reach the docks.

No one could understand such fatal coincidences. The investigating judge who came from Riohacha must have sensed them without daring to admit it, for his impulse to give them a rational explanation was obvious in his report. The door to the square was cited several times with a dime-novel title: "The Fatal Door." In reality, the only valid explanation seemed to be that of Plácida Linero, who answered the question with her mother wisdom: "My son never went out the back door when he was dressed up." It seemed to be such an easy truth that the investigator wrote it down as a marginal note, but he didn't include it in the report.

Victoria Guzmán, for her part, had been categorical with her answer that neither she nor her daughter knew that the men were waiting for Santiago Nasar to kill him. But in the course of her years she admitted that both knew it when he came into the kitchen to have his coffee. They had been told it by a woman who had passed by after five o'clock to beg a bit of milk, and who in addition had revealed the motives and the place where they were waiting. "I didn't warn him because I thought it was drunkards' talk," she told me. Nevertheless, Divina Flor confessed to me on a later visit, after her mother had died, that the latter hadn't said anything to Santiago Nasar because in the depths of her heart she wanted them to kill him. She, on the other hand, didn't warn him because she was nothing but a frightened child at the time, incapable of a decision of her own, and she'd been all the more frightened when he grabbed her by the wrist with a hand that felt frozen and stony, like the hand of a dead man.

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First Chapter

ON THE DAY they were going to kill him, Santiago Nasar got up at five-thirty in the morning to wait for the boat the bishop was coming on. He'd dreamed he was going through a grove of timber trees where a gentle drizzle was falling, and for an instant he was happy in his dream, but when he awoke he felt completely spattered with bird shit. "He was always dreaming about trees," Plácida Linero, his mother, told me twenty-seven years later, recalling the details of that distressing Monday. "The week before, he'd dreamed that he was alone in a tinfoil airplane and flying through the almond trees without bumping into anything," she said to me. She had a well-earned reputation as an accurate interpreter of other people's dreams, provided they were told her before eating, but she hadn't noticed any ominous augury in those two dreams of her son's, or in the other dreams of trees he'd described to her on the mornings preceding his death.

Nor did Santiago Nasar recognize the omen. He had slept little and poorly, without getting undressed, and he woke up with a headache and a sediment of copper stirrup on his palate, and he interpreted them as the natural havoc of the wedding revels that had gone on until after midnight. Furthermore: all the many people he ran into after leaving his house at five minutes past six and until he was carved up like a pig an hour later remembered him as being a little sleepy but in a good mood, and he remarked to all of them in a casual way that it was a very beautiful day. No one was certain if he was referring to the state of the weather. Many people coincided in recalling that it was a radiant morning with a sea breeze coming in through the bananagroves, as was to be expected in a fine February of that period. But most agreed that the weather was funereal, with a cloudy, low sky and the thick smell of still waters, and that at the moment of the misfortune a thin drizzle was falling like the one Santiago Nasar had seen in his dream grove. I was recovering from the wedding revels in the apostolic lap of Mariá Alejandrina Cervantes, and I only awakened with the clamor of the alarm bells, thinking they had turned them loose in honor of the bishop.

Santiago Nasar put on a shirt and pants of white linen, both items unstarched, just like the ones he'd put on the day before for the wedding. It was his attire for special occasions. If it hadn't been for the bishop's arrival, he would have dressed in his khaki outfit and the riding boots he wore on Mondays to go to The Divine Face, the cattle ranch he'd inherited from his father and which he administered with very good judgment but without much luck. In the country he wore a .357 Magnum on his belt, and its armored bullets, according to what he said, could cut a horse in two through the middle. During the partridge season he would also carry his falconry equipment. In the closet he kept a Mannlicher Schoenauer .30-06 rifle, a .300 Holland & Holland Magnum rifle, a .22 Hornet with a double-powered telescopic sight, and a Winchester repeater. He always slept the way his father had slept, with the weapon hidden in the pillowcase, but before leaving the house that day he took out the bullets and put them in the drawer of the night table. "He never left it loaded," his mother told me. I knew that, and I also knew that he kept the guns in one place and hid the ammunition in another far removed so that nobody, not even casually, would yield to the temptation of loading them inside the house. It was a wise custom established by his father ever since one morning when a servant girl had shaken the case to get the pillow out and the pistol went off as it hit the floor and the bullet wrecked the cupboard in the room, went through the living room wall, passed through the dining room of the house next door with the thunder of war, and turned a life-size saint on the main altar of the church on the opposite side of the square to plaster dust. Santiago Nasar, who was a young child at the time, never forgot the lesson of that accident.

The last image his mother had of him was of his fleeting passage through the bedroom. He'd wakened her while he was feeling around trying to find an aspirin in the bathroom medicine chest, and she turned on the light and saw him appear in the doorway with a glass of water in his hand. So she would remember him forever. Santiago Nasar told her then about the dream, but she didn't pay any great attention to the trees.

"Any dream about birds means good health," she said.

She had watched him from the same hammock and in the same position in which I found her prostrated by the last lights of old age when I returned to this forgotten village, trying to put the broken mirror of memory back together from so many scattered shards. She could barely make out shapes in full light and had some medicinal leaves on her temples for the eternal headache that her son had left her the last time he went through the bedroom. She was on her side, clutching the cords at the head of the hammock as she tried to get up, and there in the half shadows was the baptistry smell that had startled me on the morning of the crime.

No sooner had I appeared on the threshold than she confused me with the memory of Santiago Nasar. "There he was," she told me. "He was dressed in white linen that had been washed in plain water because his skin was so delicate that it couldn't stand the noise of starch." She sat in the hammock for a long time, chewing pepper cress seeds, until the illusion that her son had returned left her. Then she sighed: "He was the man in my life."

I saw him in her memory. He had turned twenty-one the last week in January, and he was slim and pale and had his father's Arab eyelids and curly hair. He was the only child of a marriage of convenience without a single moment of happiness, but he seemed happy with his father until the latter died suddenly, three years before, and he continued seeming to be so with his solitary mother until the Monday of his death. From her he had inherited a sixth sense. From his father he learned at a very early age the manipulation of firearms, his love for horses, and the mastery of high-flying birds of prey, but from him he also learned the good arts of valor and prudence. They spoke Arabic between themselves, but not in front of Plácida Linero, so that she wouldn't feel excluded. They were never seen armed in town, and the only time they brought in their trained birds was for a demonstration of falconry at a charity bazaar. The death of his father had forced him to abandon his studies at the end of secondary school in order to take charge of the family ranch. By his nature, Santiago Nasar was merry and peaceful, and openhearted.

On the day they were going to kill him, his mother thought he'd got his days mixed up when she saw him dressed in white. "I reminded him that it was Monday," she told me. But he explained to her that he'd got dressed up pontifical style in case he had a chance to kiss the bishop's ring. She showed no sign of interest. "He won't even get off the boat," she told him. "He'll give an obligatory blessing, as always, and go back the way he came. He hates this town."

Santiago Nasar knew it was true, but church pomp had an irresistible fascination for him. "It's like the movies," he'd told me once. The only thing that interested his mother about the bishop's arrival, on the other hand, was for her son not to get soaked in the rain, since she'd heard him sneeze while he was sleeping. She advised him to take along an umbrella, but he waved good-bye and left the room. It was the last time she saw him.

Victoria Guzmán, the cook, was sure that it hadn't rained that day, or during the whole month of February. "On the contrary," she told me when I came to see her, a short time before her death. "The sun warms things up earlier than in August." She had been quartering three rabbits for lunch, surrounded by panting dogs, when Santiago Nasar entered the kitchen. "He always got up with the face of a bad night," Victoria Guzmán recalled without affection. Divina Flor, her daughter, who was just coming into bloom, served Santiago Nasar a mug of mountain coffee with a shot of cane liquor, as on every Monday, to help him bear the burden of the night before. The enormous kitchen, with the whispers from the fire and the hens sleeping on their perches, was breathing stealthily. Santiago Nasar swallowed another aspirin and sat down to drink the mug of coffee in slow sips, thinking just as slowly, without taking his eyes off the two women who were disemboweling the rabbits on the stove. In spite of her age, Victoria Guzmán was still in good shape. The girl, as yet a bit untamed, seemed overwhelmed by the drive of her glands. Santiago Nasar grabbed her by the wrist when she came to take the empty mug from him.

"The time has come for you to be tamed," he told her.

Victoria Guzmán showed him the bloody knife.

"Let go of her, white man," she ordered him seriously. "You won't have a drink of that water as long as I'm alive."

She'd been seduced by Ibrahim Nasar in the fullness of her adolescence. She'd made love to him in secret for several years in the stables of the ranch, and he brought her to be a house servant when the affection was over. Divina Flor, who was the daughter of a more recent mate, knew that she was destined for Santiago Nasar's furtive bed, and that idea brought out a premature anxiety in her. "Another man like that hasn't ever been born again," she told me, fat and faded and surrounded by the children of other loves. "He was just like his father," Victoria Guzmán answered her. "A shit." But she couldn't avoid a wave of fright as she remembered Santiago Nasar's horror when she pulled out the insides of a rabbit by the roots and threw the steaming guts to the dogs.

"Don't be a savage," he told her. "Make believe it was a human being."

Victoria Guzman needed almost twenty years to understand that a man accustomed to killing defenseless animals could suddenly express such horror. "Good heavens," she explained with surprise. "All that was such a revelation." Nevertheless, she had so much repressed rage the morning of the crime that she went on feeding the dogs with the insides of the other rabbits, just to embitter Santiago Nasar's breakfast. That's what they were up to when the whole town awoke with the earthshaking bellow of the bishop's steamboat.

The house was a former warehouse, with two stories, walls of rough planks, and a peaked tin roof where the buzzards kept watch over the garbage on the docks. It had been built in the days when the river was so usable that many seagoing barges and even a few tall ships made their way up there through the marshes of the estuary. By the time Ibrahim Nasar arrived with the last Arabs at the end of the civil wars, seagoing ships no longer came there because of shifts in the river, and the warehouse was in disuse. Ibrahim Nasar bought it at a cheap price in order to set up an import store that he never did establish, and only when he was going to be married did he convert it into a house to live in. On the ground floor he opened up a parlor that served for everything, and in back he built a stable for four animals, the servants' quarters, and a country kitchen with windows opening onto the dock, through which the stench of the water came in at all hours. The only thing he left intact in the parlor was the spiral staircase rescued from some shipwreck. On the upper floor, where the customs offices had been before, he built two large bedrooms and five cubbyholes for the many children he intended having, and he constructed a wooden balcony that overlooked the almond trees on the square, where Plácida Linero would sit on March afternoons to console herself for her solitude. In the front he kept the main door and built two full-length windows with lathe-turned bars. He also kept the rear door, except a bit taller so that a horse could enter through it, and he kept a part of the old pier in use. That was always the door most used, not only because it was the natural entry to the mangers and the kitchen, but because it opened onto the street that led to the new docks without going through the square. The front door, except for festive occasions, remained closed and barred. Nevertheless, it was there, and not at the rear door, that the men who were going to kill him waited for Santiago Nasar, and it was through there that he went out to receive the bishop, despite the fact that he would have to walk completely around the house in order to reach the docks.

No one could understand such fatal coincidences. The investigating judge who came from Riohacha must have sensed them without daring to admit it, for his impulse to give them a rational explanation was obvious in his report. The door to the square was cited several times with a dime-novel title: "The Fatal Door." In reality, the only valid explanation seemed to be that of Plácida Linero, who answered the question with her mother wisdom: "My son never went out the back door when he was dressed up." It seemed to be such an easy truth that the investigator wrote it down as a marginal note, but he didn't include it in the report.

Victoria Guzmán, for her part, had been categorical with her answer that neither she nor her daughter knew that the men were waiting for Santiago Nasar to kill him. But in the course of her years she admitted that both knew it when he came into the kitchen to have his coffee. They had been told it by a woman who had passed by after five o'clock to beg a bit of milk, and who in addition had revealed the motives and the place where they were waiting. "I didn't warn him because I thought it was drunkards' talk," she told me. Nevertheless, Divina Flor confessed to me on a later visit, after her mother had died, that the latter hadn't said anything to Santiago Nasar because in the depths of her heart she wanted them to kill him. She, on the other hand, didn't warn him because she was nothing but a frightened child at the time, incapable of a decision of her own, and she'd been all the more frightened when he grabbed her by the wrist with a hand that felt frozen and stony, like the hand of a dead man.

Copyright© 2003 by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 53 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 19, 2014

    Disappointed.  Perhaps because it was translated, I found the l

    Disappointed. 

    Perhaps because it was translated, I found the language to be somewhat disjointed - much like the plot. The story is quite brief and not much is actually divulged within it. The plot is scattered and somewhat difficult to follow, while the story itself has many elements that are not cohesive. Having read all of the wonderful reviews, I was expecting quite a bit more from this book.  Honestly,  I found it to be rather vulgar at times and not because of the gore. Certainly not a masterpiece in my mind. 

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2008

    This is a great short novel.

    I think the climax is given early on but then what I want to know is how it happens. It is interesting, it is a master story teller, telling a story.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 16, 2008

    Chronicle of a Death Foretold

    I thought the book Chronicle of a Death foretold was very interesting, I liked how you were told everything that is happening before the story is told. I enjoy books that revolve around fiction but could possibly be true. This book leaves you guessing until the very end and I would highly recommend it to people who like suspense books and other things close to them. Chronicle of a Death Foretold is a book about a man, Santiago Nasar, who has been murdered because he had taken the virginity of Angela Vicario, a woman who had recently been married to another man, Bayardo San Roman. Bayardo San Roman had not known of there encounter and was angry, leaving Angela Vicario. She was questioned until she had given up Santiago Nasar¿s name. Her twin brothers were enraged that her virginity had been taken before marriage and later killed Santiago Nasar. The day of his death, the wedding was being put together for Angela Vicario and Bayardo San Roman. Also the Bishop was coming to bless the marriage so the town¿s people had gathered. The marriage had been arranged but only for Angela Vicario, Bayardo San Roman had come to town to find a bride and found her. Angela Vicario's twin brothers had set out to murder Santiago Nasar and constantly talked of doing so, but the people thought this only as a bluff. After the murder had been done with the Vicario family left town in embarrassment. Angela Vicario had later fallen in love with Bayardo San Roman on her wedding night and wrote him letters constantly he eventually came back to her. Santiago Nasar¿s death had been talked about for years after his murder building the suspense of his death making you wonder why after being warned was he not able to get away from the Vicario twins.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2013

    The book I read was Chronicle of a Death Foretold, by Gabriel Ga

    The book I read was Chronicle of a Death Foretold, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. This was originally published in Colombia in Spanish, but then translated by Gregory Rabasa into English. Chronicle of a Death Foretold was published in New York, 1983.




    This novel is about a baffling murder that took place. The narrator, whose name is never actually said, is a dedicated reporter that is determined to get to the bottom of it and find out as much as possible. Angela Vicario and Bayardo San Roman planned to get married, until Bayardo found out the night of their wedding that Angela was not a virgin. Bayardo left her, in disgrace. When the twin brothers of Angela found out that a man named Santiago Nasar was the cause of this, they straight up declared that they were going to murder him.Santiago Nasar is definitely the main character throughout this novel, because it is about the brothers, Pedro and Pablo Vicario, killing him, and everyone else telling what they know about the murder. Pedro and Pablo told every single person that they were planning to kill Santiago, besides Santiago himself, and the confusing part, however, is that not a single one of those people warned Santiago. They did not know how to tell him and didn’t want to disrupt their own personal lives by doing so.




    Throughout this story, we are taken from a male reporters point of view and see many peoples reactions to Santiago Nasars death. We also learn about his household the day of the murder. “He had slept little and poorly, without getting undressed, and he woke with a headache and a sediment of copper stirrup on his palate, and he interpreted them as the natural havoc of the wedding revels that had gone on until after midnight (page 4).” He did not recognize the omen of the tragedy that was soon to occur.




    I did not really like this book at all. I felt like the plot was all over the place, and it was just also very boring which made it hard to follow along with. For example, it seemed like the whole novel was just unorganized in every way, and was very random. “He looked like a fairy (page 26),” a woman described how Santiago looked one day. Then, in just the next paragraph, the topic already changed to the narrator’s mother writing him letters. 
     
    From Chronicle of a Death Foretold, I learned the many different ways that somebody’s death can impact people. Some people move on with their lives, and some people cannot let go. Many people also have their different ways of coping, such as venting to other people.

    I would recommend this book, only for a few specific reasons, however. In my opinion it was a fairly hard read, so you probably wouldn’t enjoy this novel if you do not read things like this. Also, if you like books that don’t exactly have the biggest rising action, climax, etc., then you would most likely enjoy reading this.

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  • Posted June 28, 2012

    A masterpiece

    A masterpiece

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 24, 2011

    Highly recommended!!!

    Short and sweet! a great little book for great readers

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 18, 2011

    Very Suspenseful book!

    Santiago nasar, a young man accused of taking the virginity of Angela Vicaro. Angela's twin brothers, Pablo and Pedro Vicaro find Santiago, and kill him for his sin.
    I found the beggining of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's novel "Chronicle of a Death Foretold" to be very informative. I feel like he described the household just right. As i got farther and farther into the book, I became more and more interested. It's almost like the kind of book you can not put down once you start reading it.
    The book is about the events leading to Santiago's death. He lived in a wealthy family, taking the place of his deceased father, owning thier successful ranch. Santiago lives with his mother, Placida Linero, the cook, Victoria Guzman, and her daughter, Divina Flor. The day Santiago died was a very special day for Angela and Bayardo, it was the day the bishop was comming to bless thier marriage. Nobody believed that the twins were actually going to kill Santiago for what he had done. But they were proven wrong. After Santiago had been murdured the Vicaro family left the town, Bayardo San Roman left with his family and Pedro and Pablo went to jail for 3 years. Once Pablo got out of jail, he married Predencia Cotes, and Pedro went back to the armed forces. Even years after the crime has passed, it was still all what everyone was talking about. Though a lot of people warned Santiago of his foretold death, it failed to get through to him and as the chronicle of a death foretold lingers, so does Santiago's ghost.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 15, 2010

    Highly Recommended

    "Chronicle of a Death Foretold" by Gabriel Garcia is an incredibly well written book that keeps your mind wondering till the very end. This novel takes place in Columbia, in a quiet little town where everyone knows everyone. With that fact being known, it seems impossible that everyone knew Pedro and Pablo Vicario were going to kill Santiago Nasar, except Santiago Nasar. That is how the book starts with that one bit of information, Santiago Nasar has been murdered. From there we learn the whole story, of when, where, why and how this murder is possible.
    Santiago Nasar is the protagonist of the story as well as the main character. The reason for the murder is because when Angela's new husband returns her to her mother, the person at fault for this according to Angela is Santiago Nasar. Now to reclaim their sister's honor Pedro and Pablo must go and kill Santiago Nasar. Looking at the character of Santiago Nasar you would never think he would be the target of a murder. Santiago is an easy going man whose father died three years earlier. His family has been wealthy ever sense he took over the family ranch. We know that he is opened hearted and has an appreciation of valor, prudence, firearms, and falconry. We also know that Santiago probably would have seduced Divina Flor, just as his father had seduced her mother. The narrator never gives us any other concrete details about the character or his dreams, ambitions or even if he ever committed the crime.
    The theme of this novel is honor. Everything that the Vicario brothers do are because they must restore the honor in their family and defend their sister, even if they don't legitimately know whether Santiago Nasar is to blame or not. Honor is the reason why people make their decisions throughout the novel it is a huge part of family life in this Latin American culture.
    I very much enjoyed this book because it keeps you thinking and wondering how everything could have happened or been prevented if someone would have spoken up. An example of this is in the quote, "The truth is I didn't know what to do,' he told me.'My first thought was that it wasn't any business of mine but something for the civil authorities, but then I made up my mind to say something in passing to Placida Linero.' Yet when he crossed the square, he'd forgotten completely. 'You have to understand,' he told me, "that the bishop was coming that day" (Marquez, pg. 70). No one fully steps up to the plate to stop what is going to happen. No one takes the situation seriously even Father Amador who is talking here. He has the authority to stop this but it slips his mind, meaning he did not think much of it. I could not stop thinking about the society in which they lived, and couldn't help thinking what I would have done.This book puts into perspective some of the reasons people stand by and do nothing. But to really get your own prospect and get the details on how the situation plays out you have to read the book for yourself.
    I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a short book, but one where you have to think. It is not a simple read, and takes a good deal of time to fully understand. The facts are sometimes implied rather than straightforward. But the details are outstanding. The narrator writes about ordinary things like you have never heard them be described before. If you enjoy this book you might also enjoy another book by Gabriel Garcia Marquez called "One Hundred Years of Solitude".

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  • Posted December 6, 2010

    Recommend

    Chronicles of a death Foretold is simple enough: A story about romance and murder. A wealthy young Arab man is murdered by two lower class Spanish brothers who believe that he took their sisters virginity and has brought dishonor to them and their small Spanish town. The oddity; almost everyone in the town knew of the impending murder and did little or nothing to stop it. Marquez paints a portrait of this community and its collective psyche and culture leaving the reader torn between supporting the culture or the death of a possible innocent man.

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  • Posted November 22, 2010

    Very Recommended

    The Chronicle of a Death Foretold was a very interesting book that was defining a specific community. This novella described a community that is usually peaceful and caring, but was guilty of killing one of their own. I really don't understand why this situation wasn't resolved since everyone knew what was going on. The people in the story were from a small community where everyone was well-known. For them not to stop a murder because the murderers were known to keep to themselves was very understandable. The fact that the murderers felt they had not committed a crime was very interesting to me because according to their religion they were innocent. This novella is certainly worth reading if you are into the murder type life lesson novellas.

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  • Posted November 21, 2010

    Recommended for Imagery lovers!

    Chronicle of a Death Foretold is an extremely interesting novel. With the climax of the novel known from the start, Marquez takes a different outlook on literature. He reverses a story of a murder, collaborating his intriguing style with a fashionable storyline and tone. In great detail, he describes all the actions that led up to the crime, and drags the reader into a world that is normally not experienced. With Marquez's amazing use of imagery in his style of writing, Chronicle of a Death Foretold is vividly illustrated to any reader. It seems that the reader can actually hear, see, and smell everything that is going on in the novel. Marquez reaches out to the audience with his great sense of imagery, and this definitely creates the atmosphere completely defined in the novel. In Chronicle of a Death Foretold, Marquez demonstrates actual, real-life community, and he applies imagery to rip the reader away from the real world. Marquez is an amazing writer with astonishing creativity. This is an excellent novel for readers interested in imaginations gone wild (any of Marquez's writing would suit you!)

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  • Posted November 21, 2010

    I recommend it, it's a good read.

    Gabriel Garcia Marquez wastes no time in telling the reader that there has been a murder. However, it takes a little longer than expected to know why it happened. In the story, a woman, Angela, who is married reveals that she is not a virgin. Her two brothers, Pablo and Pedro, then set out to kill the man who took her virginity. This man is Santiago Nassar. They were not secretive about their plan to kill Nassar, in fact, they told anyone who they came in contact with. The town, however, did nothing to stop the murder. Marquez depicts an essence of community in all of his works and it is displayed in Chronicle of a Death Foretold by the town coming together to assist in the murder of Narrar. Even though they did not actually kill him, they did not stop the murder, which makes them just as guilty. Overall, this novel was very good. The way Marquez tells his story through the eyes of different characters made it more readable and exciting. I would recommend this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2008

    chronicle of a death foretold

    The book Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez is a book filled with conspiracy, plotting, and a murder to which the whole town seems to be an accessory. I found this book somewhat interesting. The way Marquez describes the situations, characters and places is very picturesque. You can almost see the people and the scenes in front of you as you read. For example when he describes one of the main characters, Santiago Nasar, he writes ¿¿he was slim and pale and had his father¿s Arab eyelids and curly hair¿¿ The way Marquez writes the book can get very confusing at times. He tends to skip around to different places or scenes when you least expect it, so you defiantly need a quiet place to read and concentrate on the book. However, when you are done with the book it all really comes together and you understand the story line a lot more than you would in the beginning or the middle, where it is kind of confusing. In Chronicle of a Death Foretold, you know what happens at the beginning of the book so it¿s not really a surprise at the end. Also, the book seems to drag on for a long time even though it¿s not a very long book. Overall this was a good book but not one of the best I have ever read. But Gabriel Garcia Marquez definitely put his heart and soul into this book and it surely shows.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 12, 2006

    Absolutely Amazing~

    I had to read this book for school, so I was not a big fan of it at first. However, i must admit that this is one of the few books that i loved reading, even though it was a requirement. The story is very easy to read and to follow, and it's interesting all the way through. Marquez allows the reader to look at a simple murder in a different way, and one truly knows the events leading up to it, different views, and that fate truly can't be changed. At first it may be a bit confusing, but stick with it and you will see what i mean. It deserves every bit of praise imaginable, since it truly is amazing. I cannot wait to read another Marquez story!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 2, 2006

    Different Type of Story Telling

    A very visual novel, grotesque at the end, very different method of story telling.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2006

    beneath the surface

    marquez' masterful work of fiction truely bears the bulk of its power when the numerous motifs and nuances are analyzed. while his message about the insanity of an antiquated system of honor are pervasive and obvious, the way he weaves in biblical allusions and intersecting social commentaries truly makes this novel of modest length one to remember.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2004

    A superb reinvention of the crime novel.

    Garcia Marquez takes one event and studies it from every possible angle giving us studies in revenge, honor, and indifference.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 23, 2003

    confused

    the book wasn't horrible, but the author keeps on switching topic. You get a bit confused while reading it and Santiogo Nasar dies about 6 times in this book(don't worry i'm not giving anything away they say that he dies in the first line) Anyways he doesn't write in an easy to follow manner either. I wasn't to partial to reading this book maybe b/c i was forced to read it b/c of school but it's not something i would have picked to read otherwise

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2002

    A good Novel

    "The time has come for you to be tamed, he told her. Victoria Guzman showed him the bloody knife.¿ In the Chronicle of a death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, is a really good book, using irony, and satire to make the book suspenseful and interesting. Santiago Nasar is going to die, and Marquez puts herself in the roll of a reporter and writes every little piece of information to solve the case of Santiago¿s murder. Santiago satirizes religion by society and law. Everyone in the town are Catholic, and the Bishop will pass by their town, also everyone wanting to try to give the Bishop a kiss on the hand bringing gifts and food for him, "he does not set foot on land" Santiago felt cheated because he felt like he was used since he really brought allot. Showing that the bishop disliked the town. Religion is also very ironic to the position of Margot, Marquez¿s sister. She drinks and drinks till she gets drunk, ¿My sister the nun, who wasn¿t going to wait for the bishop¿ isn¿t that very ironic and weird that she does not show respect. She is probably drunk to the stomach to do that. Showing disrespect is not what a Nun is supposed to do. Marquez¿s use of irony, satire wants to keep the reader interested.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 19, 2001

    Imoprtance of an Honor Code

    Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez was basically a book about family honor. Because of the fact that one man is accused of causing their sister to lose her virginity her brothers want to kill him because he caused the divorce of her marriage, and it has now disgraced their family. Garcia touches on a couple of huge points in our society today; Pride and Honor. Many people, as in the book, are killed over pride. Maybe because of the fact that you did something to one of their family members or maybe even the smallest of situations f.e. stepping on someone's shoe. The belief of some people is even though it may have been an accident you invaded their space and you should be punished for it. Of course you should have pride and honor, but once you get to big headedness- you run into problems and that is one of the big problems our society runs into now. Is it really that important. Do you have to show how big and bad you are because of the fact that you got disrespected. The Vicario brothers thought so and that led to the death of their sister's so called 'lover'. Marquez shows the importance of this honor code that many cultures have and always will have. Respect, Pride and Honor are huge in society, but I don't believe that they are enough to kill for. Is anythign enough to kill for? That is one question that we should all ask ourselves.

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