What is ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ About?

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One Hundred Years of Solitude (Cien años de soledad), Gabriel García Márquez’s most famous work, is being adapted into a television series on Netflix. The series is set to have 16 episodes and was filmed completely in Spanish and in García Márquez’s native Colombia. But what is One Hundred Years of Solitude about? 

The book, published in 1967 and considered one of the best examples of magical realism, tells the story of the Buendía family and the mythical town of Macondo. In it, García Márquez uses both real events and fiction to tell the story of Colombia from a critical perspective.

One Hundred Years of Solitude begins with cousins José Arcadio Buendía and Úrsula Iguarán, who marry against their parent’s wishes and leave their town in search of a new home. Together they’ll start a new town, Macondo, on the banks of a river of prehistoric stones. The book then goes on to tell the story of seven generations of the same family, their isolation, their loves, and the terrible curse that has doomed them, without any hope of salvation, to one hundred years of loneliness.

The book’s central message, about the cyclical nature of life and the impact of solitude on human existence, has touched generations since its first publication. To this date, One Hundred Years of Solitude has sold over 50 million copies and been translated into over 40 languages. 

Not only that, its first line is one of the most quoted first lines in literature. It reads, in Spanish: “Muchos años después, frente al pelotón de fusilamiento, el coronel Aureliano Buendía había de recordar aquella tarde remota en que su padre lo llevó a conocer el hielo.”

The English translation is:

“Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.”

One Hundred Years of Solitude is set to premiere on Netflix this year.