‘The Handsomest Drowned Man In The World’ by Gabriel García Márquez

The Handsomest Drowned Man In The World by Gabriel García Márquez, 1968

The magic trick:

Rambling run-on sentences that suggest 10 possible meanings at once

Oh, Gabriel García Márquez, you and your crazy winding sentences that say so much and ultimately leave me wondering what exactly it all means.

I’m reading a translation, of course, but still. These sentences are remarkable. They go all over the place, adding new ideas at every turn, running on and on and on.

Ultimately, with a story like this, the point is metaphor. This man is handsome. He is gigantic. He is a mystery. But he’s familiar somehow.

Each reader can stitch up the meanings however they want.

Often, that process or responsibility can feel daunting, even frustrating. But when the writing, and the sentences, uncoil so thrillingly as they do in this story, even the most frustrating search for literary meaning can feel exhilarating.

And that’s quite a trick on García Márquez’s part.

The selection:

They only had to take the handkerchief off his face to see that he was ashamed, that it was not his fault that he was so big or so heavy or so handsome, and if he had known that this was going to happen, he would have looked for a more discreet place to drown in, seriously, I even would have tied the anchor off a galleon around my neck and staggered off a cliff like someone who doesn’t like things in order not to be upsetting people now with this Wednesday dead body, as you people say, in order not to be bothering anyone with this filthy piece of cold meat that doesn’t have anything to do with me.


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