The Autumn of the Patriarch

The Autumn of the Patriarch


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One of Gabriel García Márquez's most intricate and ambitious works, The Autumn of the Patriarch is a brilliant tale of a Caribbean tyrant and the corruption of power.

From charity to deceit, benevolence to violence, fear of God to extreme cruelty, the dictator of The Autumn of the Patriarch embodies the best and the worst of human nature. Gabriel García Márquez, the renowned master of magical realism, vividly portrays the dying tyrant caught in the prison of his own dictator-ship. Employing an innovative, dreamlike style, and overflowing with symbolic descriptions, the novel transports the reader to a world that is at once fanciful and real.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060882860
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 03/14/2006
Series: P.S. Series
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 151,228
Product dimensions: 5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.65(d)

About the Author

Gabriel García Márquez was born in 1927 in the town of Aracataca, Columbia.Latin America's preeminent man of letters, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1982. García Márquez began his writing career as a journalist and is the author of numerous other works of fiction and nonfiction, including the novels The Autumn of the Patriarch and Love in the Time of Cholera, and the autobiography Living to Tell the Tale. There has been resounding acclaim for his life's work since he passed away in April 2014.


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

Read an Excerpt

Over the weekend the vultures got into the presidential palace bypecking through the screens on the balcony windows and the flapping of their wings stirred up the stagnant time inside, and at dawn on Monday the city awoke out of its lethargy of centuries with the warm, soft breeze of a great man dead and rotting grandeur. Only then did we dare go in without attacking the crumbling walls of reinforced stone, as the more resolute had wished, and without using oxbows to knock the main door off its hinges, as others had proposed, because all that was needed was for someone to give a push and the great armored doors that had resisted the lombards of William Dampier during the building's heroic days gave way. It was like entering the atmosphere of another age, because the air was thinner in the rubble pits of the vast lair of power, and the silence was more ancient, and things were hard to see in the decrepit light. All across the first courtyard, where the paving stones had given way to the underground thrust of weeds, we saw the disorder of the post of the guard who had fled, the weapons abandoned in their racks, the big, long rough-planked tables and plates containing the leftovers of the Sunday lunch that had been interrupted by panic, in shadows we saw the annex where government house had been, colored fungi and pale irises among the unresolved briefs whose normal course had been slower than the pace of the dryest of lives, in the center of the courtyard we saw the baptismal font where more than five generations had been christened with martial sacraments, in the rear we saw the ancient viceregal stable which had been transformed into a coach house, and among the camellias andbutterflies we saw the berlin from stirring days, the wagon from the time of the plague, the coach from the year of the comet, the hearse from progress in order, the sleep-walking limousine of the first century of peace, all in good shape under the dusty cobwebs and all painted with the colors of the flag. In the next courtyard, behind an iron grille, were the lunar-dust-covered rosebushes under which the lepers had slept during the great days of the house, and they had prolifcrated to such a degree in their abandonment that there was scarcely an odorless chink in that atmosphere of roses which mingled with the stench that came to us from the rear of the garden and the stink of the henhouse and the smell of dung and urine ferment of cows and soldiers from the colonial basilica that had been converted into a milking barn. Opening a way through the asphyxiating growth we saw the arches of the gallery with potted carnations and sprigs of astromelias and pansies where the concubines' quarters had been, and from the variety of domestic leftovers and the quantity of sewing machines we thought it possible that more than a thousand women had lived there with their crews of seven-month runts, we saw the battlefield disorder of the kitchens, clothes rotting in the sun by the wash basins, the open slit trench shared by concubines and soldiers, and in back we saw the Babylonian willows that had been carried alive from Asia Minor in great seagoing hothouses, with their own soil, their sap, and their drizzle, and behind the willows we saw government house, immense and sad, where the vultures were still entering through the chipped blinds. We did not have to knock down the door, as we had thought, for the main door seemed to open by itself with just the push of a voice, so we went up to the main floor along a bare stone stairway where the opera-house carpeting had been torn by the hoofs of the cows, and from the first vestibule on down to the private bedrooms we saw the ruined offices and protocol salons through which the brazen cows wandered, eating the velvet curtains and nibbling at the trim on the chairs, we saw heroic portraits of saints and soldiers thrown to the floor among broken furniture and fresh cow flops, we saw a dining room that had been eaten up by the cows, the music room profaned by the cows' breakage, the domino tables destroyed and the felt on the billiard tables cropped by the cows, abandoned in a corner we saw the wind machine, the one which counterfeited any phenomenon from the four points of the compass so that the people in the house could bear up under their nostalgia for the sea that had gone away, we saw birdcages hanging everywhere, still covered with the sleeping clothes put on some night the week before, and through the numerous windows we saw the broad and sleeping animal that was the city, still innocent of the historic Monday that was beginning to come to fife, and beyond the city, up to the horizon, we saw the dead craters of harsh moon ash on the endless plain where the sea had been. In that forbidden corner which only a few people of privilege had ever come to know, we smelled the vultures' carnage for the first time, we caught their age-old asthma, their premonitory instinct, and guiding ourselves by the putrefaction of their wing flaps in the reception room we found the wormy shells of the cows, their female animal hindquarters repeated many times in the full-length mirrors, and then we pushed open a side door that connected with an office hidden in the wall, and there we saw him, in his denim uniform without insignia, boots, the gold spur on his left heel, older than all old men and all old animals on land or sea, and he was stretched out on the floor, face down, his right arm bent under his head as a pillow, as he had slept night after night every night of his ever so long life of a solitary despot.

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The Autumn of the Patriarch 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
Dodgerdave More than 1 year ago
This may be the best work of a prolific, amazing and sometimes diffucult writer. Gabriel Garcia Marquez has created an amzing and engaging character in his despot. A man who is at his very heart, the best and worst in all of us and nothing in between. The narrative style is a little difficult to navigate at first but it works for the novel. I have never read anything as powerful and gripping as this novel. Not recommended for first time readers of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, best to start with something a little more straightforward like "One Hundred Years of Solitude" or "Innocent Erendira" to get a better grasp of the thematic nature of his work. Then you can dive headlong into unravelling the mystery that is "The Autumn of the Patriarch."
Guest More than 1 year ago
While this is an outstanding novel, well-written, interesting... the author is undeniably talented of course... however, I didn't particularly care for it. In my humble opinion, it was a bit too jumbled: (sentences don't end they are kind of like this in the way that periods are not a friend of the author). You need to reread passages several times, sometimes, to understand what is happening. Also, a book-reading group REALLY helps. You almost need thirty+ people to pick this one apart successfully. It is a great book, however, bottom line. It is simply that it can be very challenging and confusing.
rventura on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
About 20 years after I purchased this book in used bookstore, i finally read it. The typeface was small, which made it even harder to read with the lack of paragraph breaks and long, long sentence crammed with Marquez's story and visions. My rabbit in college had eaten the binding and the edges of the pages, so it was even more tattered than one would imagine it ought to be. But I read it. Got through it, although at times, it was a struggle with the intermixing thoughts and change of narrators and clauses and run-on sentences breaking the convention of other books I've read. There were often times I gave up, honestly, and often times I was not sufficiently alert to grasp, enjoy or even understand what was going on. But the last few pages, I read on a train, going home, and the rhythm, endless and unrelenting, like the rhythym of the train, brought me home. There are few writers I would trust to take me through these rough jungles of sentences to bring me where I want to be, but Marquez is one of them. In the end, despite my doubts and worries, I was completely mesmerized and filled up. I remember every single thing about this book.
ECBesa on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Not my favorite novel but interesting point of view by a dictator of a country.
dtra on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As many have said, this book was hard to read, the last sentence (which I'm pretty sure is the whole last chapter) was long, but on top of that, there was the changing persona of the narrator. The story is really good, but in the end, I rated it down because of the difficulty I had in reading it, probably the type of book you need to do in one or two sittings. It goes on like one long rambling anecdote, the language is very good though.
LisaStens on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I had a hard time with this book simply because of the format, no paragraphs and sentences that are literally pages long. I also struggled with the constant switch of narrators and perspectives. Even though I found this book to be oppressive and confusing I did find the Patriarch to be a fascinating character, fascinating, horrifying and tragic in many ways.
seiya More than 1 year ago
this is test review
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The master's story.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
It is about Bolivar's end. After South America has been liberated by him it all falls apart into little despots in smaller countries, not what Bolivar wanted, a large country of northern South America. His insomnia, etc. with flash informative backs.