I just finished reading Love in the Time of Cholera. I found the first half boring and uninspiring. A childish story for adults, I thought. A drawn-out love story with a latin flavor. So many details and no insight. I waited and waited to know more about the photographer who was found dead at the beginning. I’m sure it had some symbolic significance (does anyone know?), but I was disappointed that he was almost never mentioned again.
The second half of the book was something else. Marquez began to inject his philosophy on life, love, men, women and their relationships. Now I was into it and I learned something from every page almost. There are so many beautiful passages with great wisdom. And like every reader (I think) I saw similarities in my own life and relationships.
Still the idea that one would go on and on loving another person without being loved in return, or even acknowledged, bothers me. In the end the object of undying affection did relent, if that’s the right word. But I would have been much more satisfied if there was no “happy” ending, that the lover would realize that it’s all a terrible waste loving a person who does not respond in kind, or care about your feelings. So many letters, so many gifts, so much heartache, so many sleepless nights… for what? Nobody is that wonderful or perfect, neither you nor your imaginary love.
Love is forever? It’s a beautiful thought that makes life more interesting and bearable. It’s what we all desperately hope for. But reality is very different. It’s not trivial or hopeless, but love depends on so many variables that it’s near impossible for it to be lasting, much less forever. It’s seriously delusional to think love will survive all the personal changes and ups and downs of life. I’ve seen it and it happens, but you would be very very lucky to find a life-long love/soul mate.
In Love in the Time of Cholera, Fermina Daza did not give a damn about Florentino Ariza for sixty years because she had her own life and desires. And I for one would have been perfectly happy if Marquez had left it that way. But then there would be no story, no fantasy, no hope. Nothing exceptional. Who wants to read about what really happens in life? I do! That’s why I prefer Henry Miller. His version of life and love is much closer to reality and human nature. There’s no flowery/false romanticism.
I shouldn’t be talking. I’ve been a hopeless romantic all my life. But enough time has passed for me to realize that love is neither forever nor enough. Someone, some day might prove me wrong. Until then I refuse to let anyone suck the joy of life out of me. Even the one I love.
[Thanks to Red Wine for the lovely art work]