The New Yorker
Collected Storiesby Gabriel García Márquez, Gregory Rabassa (Translator), S. J. Bernstein (Translator)
Collected here are twenty-six of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's most brilliant and enchanting short stories, presented in the chronological order of their publication in Spanish from three volumes: Eyes of a Blue Dog,Big Mama's Funeral, and The Incredible and Sad Tale of lnnocent Eréndira and Her Heartless Grandmother. Combining mysticism,/i>/i>
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Collected here are twenty-six of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's most brilliant and enchanting short stories, presented in the chronological order of their publication in Spanish from three volumes: Eyes of a Blue Dog,Big Mama's Funeral, and The Incredible and Sad Tale of lnnocent Eréndira and Her Heartless Grandmother. Combining mysticism, history, and humor, the stories in this collection span more than two decades, illuminating the development of Marquez's prose and exhibiting the themes of family, poverty, and death that resound throughout his fiction.
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The Third Resignation
There was that noise again. That cold, cutting, vertical noise that be knew so well now; but it was coming to him now sharp and painful, as if he had become unaccustomed to it overnight.
It was spinning around inside his empty head, dull and biting. A beehive had risen up inside the four walls of his skull. It grew larger and larger with successive spirals, and it beat on him inside, making the stem of his spinal cord quiver with an irregular vibration, out of pitch with the sure rhythm of his body. Something had become unadapted in his human material structure; something that had functioned normally "at other times" and now was hammering at his head from within with dry and hard blows made by the bones of a fleshless, skeletal hand, and it made him remember all the bitter sensations of life. He had the animal impulse to clench his fists and squeeze his temples, which sprouted blue and purple arteries with the firm pressure of his desperate pain. He would have liked to catch the noise that was piercing the moment with its sharp diamond point between the palms of his sensitive hands. The figure of a domestic cat made his muscles contract when he imagined it chasing through the tormented corners of his hot, fever-torn head. Now he would catch it. No. The noise had slippery fur, almost untouchable. But he was ready to catch it with his well-learned strategy and hold it long and tightly with all the strength of his desperation. He would not permit it to enter through his ear again, to come out through his mouth, through each one of his pores or his eyes, which rolled as it went through and remained blind, looking at the flight of the noisefrom the depths of the shattered darkness. He would not allow it to break its cut-glass crystals, its ice stars, against the interior wall of his cranium. That was what that noise was like: interminable, like a child beating his head against a concrete wall. Like all hard blows against nature's firm things. But if he could encircle it, isolate it, it would no longer torment him. Go and cut the variable figure from its own shadow. Grab it. Squeeze it, yes, once and for all now. Throw it onto the pavement with all his might and step on it ferociously until he could say, panting, that he had killed the noise that was tormenting him, that was driving him mad, and that was now stretched out on the ground like any ordinary thing, transformed into an integral death.
But it was impossible for him to squeeze his temples. His arms had been shortened on him and were now the limbs of a dwarf. small, chubby, adipose arms. He tried to shake his head. He shook it. The noise then appeared with greater force inside his skull, which had hardened, grown larger, felt itself more strongly attracted by gravity. The noise was heavy and hard. So heavy and hard that once he had caught and destroyed it, he would have the impression that he had plucked the petals off a lead flower.
He had heard the noise with the same insistence "at other times." He had heard it, for instance, on the day he had died for the first time. The time-when he saw a corpse-that he realized it was his own corpse. He looked at it and he touched it. He felt himself untouchable, unspatial, nonexistent. He really was a corpse and he could already feel the passage of death on his young and sickly body. The atmosphere had hardened all through the house, as if it had been filled with cement, and in the middle of that block-where objects had remained as when it had been an atmosphere of air-there he was, carefully placed inside a coffin of hard but transparent cement. "That noise" had been in his head that time too. How distant and how cold the soles of his feet had felt there at the other end of the coffin, where they had placed a pillow, because the box was still too big for him and they had to adjust it, adapt the dead body to its new and last garment. They covered him with white and tied a handkerchief around his jaw; mortally handsome.
He was in his coffin, ready to be buried, and yet he knew that he wasn't dead. That if he tried to get up he could do it so easily. "Spiritually," at least. But it wasn't worth the trouble. Better to let himself die right there; die of "death," which was his illness. It had been some time since the doctor had said to his mother, dryly:
"Madam, your child has a grave illness: he is dead. Nevertheless," he went on, "we shall do everything possible to keep him alive beyond death. We will succeed in making his organic functions continue through a complex system of autonutrition. Only the motor functions will be different, his spontaneous movements. We shall watch his life through growth, which, too, shall continue on in a normal fashion. It is simply 'a living death.' Areal and true death... "
He remembered the words but in a confused way. Perhaps he had never heard them and it was the creation of his brain as his temperature rose during the crisis of typhoid fever.
While he was sinking into delirium. When he had read the tales of embalmed pharaohs. As his fever rose, he felt himself to be the protagonist. A kind of emptiness in his life had began there. From then on he had been unable to distinguish, to remember what events were part of his delirium and what were part of his real life. That was why he doubted now. Perhaps the doctor had never mentioned that strange "living death." It was illogical, paradoxical, simply contradictory. And it made him suspect now that he really was dead. That he had been for eighteen years...Collected Stories. Copyright © by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Meet the Author
Gabriel GarcÍa MÁrquez was born in 1928 in the town of Aracatca, Colombia. Latin America's preeminent man of letters, he is considered by many to be one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century. He began his writing career as a journalist and is the author of numerous works of fiction and nonfiction, including One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera. Gabriel MÁrquez was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982.
- Mexico City, Mexico
- Date of Birth:
- March 6, 1928
- Place of Birth:
- Aracataca, Colombia
- Universidad Nacional de Colombia, 1947-48, and Universidad de Cartagena, 1948-49
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