Sunday, April 27, 2014

This just far

What? Two nonfiction books in one year? It happens. Rarely. 
After we visited the Philadelphia Library, I felt compelled to read a Poe biography, and not long 
afterwards, the great writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez died, so of course I finally picked up the memoir I've been squandering for several years.

I've read only a fraction of Garcia Marquez's memoir, but he has already demonstrated the dreamy, innocent way he perceived life as a child, and how he was able to hold on to that.

It would seem that these two men, who lived in different times, different cultures, and different hemispheres, may as well have inhabited different planets, and yet--there are similarities. Most importantly, they both knew they were writers before they were men. Edgar Poe stated, in an early letter, ...succeed or not, I am "irrecoverably a poet." before he was a legal adult, while Garcia Marquez quotes Rilke, If you believe that you are capable of living without writing, do not write.

Both men also worked long, hard hours as editors of struggling journals, for very small wages. They were admired, but not paid. Poe's writing was published before there was an international copyright law (I won't go on here about how awful that was for both native and foreign writers), and it would be many years before Garcia Marquez earned much of a living as a writer.

Poe and Garcia Marquez each had political views that defy my understanding, so I will simply say that they were both influenced by the men who supervised their early childhoods. In Poe's case, this was his foster father, John Allan, a Southern aristocrat, while Garcia Marquez was at first raised by his grandfather, Colonel Nicolás Ricardo Márquez Mejía. Both men were living in rather interesting times, and at this remove, it seems wise to enjoy their talents without becoming disturbed about their personal lives.

Coincidentally, both authors had high-profile grandfathers. I'm particularly intrigued by David Poe, Sr.  Born in County Cavan, Ireland around 1743, he emigrated to Baltimore with his family, probably in 1850. He was a quartermaster general during The Revolutionary War, and actually loaned the fledgling government $40,000! That a spinning wheel maker saved that much money is astonishing. Unfortunately, this deserving patriot died poor. Meanwhile, the outspoken Colonel Nicolás Ricardo Márquez Mejía was a veteran of the thousand days war and helped found Aracataca, the village in which Garcia Marquez grew up.

However, it is easier to contrast than to compare these two men. After all, they were born 118 years apart, one in Boston, MA, the other in Aracataca, Columbia. Garcia Marquez was surrounded by a huge family, steeped in Caribbean culture and tradition, while Poe's few relations were scattered down the eastern coast of a country they'd adopted recently. Garcia Marquez was raised by his grandparents for eight years because his parents were poor, while Poe was placed with foster parents his family did not know.

These are just some musings...and I really should get reading. The pile is getting higher, but I won't speak of that just now.


beach lad said...

I don't know much of these two - have heard of Poe, but not Marquez.

TLP said...

As usual, you have made me want to read more about these two men. Poe is especially intriguing to me.

Good post.

Karen said...

I vaguely remember snippets of Marquez but more so recently obituaries and accolades.

I also vaguely remember a post of you and your family at an E.A. Poe luncheon?

actonbell said...

Thanks, Mom :)

Karen, we did go to a Poe Fest. It was fun. And GGM's novels are worth a look.

Bone said...

I have Love In The Time Of Cholera somewhere. Just haven't managed to get through it yet.

That was also my result in a "What Book Are You" quiz one time.

actonbell said...

Well, Bone, that means you must read it, huh?