Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Good or Bad?

BBC NEWS | Americas | Iran ban for Garcia Marquez novel

One wonders what happened to those unlucky 5000 people who managed to buy copies of one of Marquez’s lesser known works. The appeal of Marquez’s work in Iran is abundantly manifest because his works are suffused with a disdain for Spanish colonialism specifically and imperialism in general. In as much, they are grist for a regime that frames its repressive methods and its catastrophic failures in the context of the struggle against Western imperialism. 

Memories of My Melancholy Whores is such a wonderful title. The content of the novel could not possibly differ significantly from Marquez’s other writings. One Hundred Years of Solitude contains many stories of men who were ruined by whores, men who discovered their manhood with whores and men who fell in love with whores. Hence, the Iranian government’s objection to the title and the content of Memories of My Melancholy Sweethearts (the sanitized title) seems especially out of place. After all, the story is ultimately that of the salvation of a pervert at the age of 90. Furthermore, the following quote from Solitude clearly demonstrates that there is just as much content in Solitude that would be deemed objectionable to Islamic law.

…until he heard some old man tell the tale of the man who had married his aunt, who was also his cousin, and whose son ended up being his own grandfather. “Can a person marry his own aunt?” he asked, startled. “He not only can do that,” a soldier answered him, “but we are fighting this war against the priests so that a person can marry his own mother.” 

Hence, Marquez’s seemingly favorable depiction of incest was deemed acceptable in Iran, but the story of a 90-year-old pervert who falls in love with an innocent girl is apparently taboo. 

What tangled webs we weave when we first choose to lie, the famous saying goes. The complexity of this web pales in comparison to the web woven by religious zealots who insist on reconciling their backward and repressive ways with modern philosophy. Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said,

It is quite possible to live with uncertainty, with the possibility, even the likelihood, that one is wrong. But beware of certainty where none exists. Ideological certainty easily degenerates into insistence upon ignorance.

It is very clear exactly what it is that religious zealots, Islamic or otherwise, insist upon these days.

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