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Chronicle of a Death Foretold

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Wikipedia article




'Chronicle of a Death Foretold' (original Spanish title: 'Crnica de una muerte anunciada')' is a novella by Gabriel Garca Mrquez, published in 1981. It tells, in the form of a pseudo-journalistic reconstruction, the story of the murder of Santiago Nasar by the two Vicario brothers.

Plot



The non-linear story, narrated by an anonymous character, begins with the mourning of Santiago Nasar's death. He wakes up from an ostensibly meaningless dream of trees. The reader learns that Santiago lives with his mother, Placida Linero; the cook, Victoria Guzman, and the cook's daughter, Divina Flor. Santiago's father, Ibrahim, is dead; after Ibrahim's death, Santiago took over the successful family ranch.

The day of Santiago Nasar's death also happens to be the day the Bishop plans to come by boat, to bless the marriage of Angela Vicario and Bayardo San Romanthough his blessings, as the reader learns later on, will be of no use. As the town prepares for the Bishop's arrival, Angela's twin brothers Pedro and Pablo sit in the local milk shop in order to watch for Santiago, so that they may carry out their plans to murder him.

The reader gradually learns of Angela Vicario's story: her groom, Bayardo San Roman, was a foreigner who had come to town to find a bride. After finding Angela, Bayardo decided to marry her; his wealthy status compared with the relative poverty of the Vicarios left no choice for Angela's freedom, and thus they were planned to wed.

The night before the wedding day, festivities in preparation for the wedding had taken place at a local whorehouse run by Maria Alejandrina Cervantes, where the narrator had partied with Santiago and the Vicario twins until the early morning. The Vicario twins had left and returned home to find that their sister had been quietly returned by Bayardo San Roman in disgrace, after he found that she was not a virgin as had been expected. When asked who was the man that deflowered her, Angela Vicario says that it was Santiago Nasar. Thus the twins, in the wake of their family's disgrace, began planning their murderous revenge.

Once morning arrives, the twins set about town, repeatedly announcing their plans to everyone who will listen. Yet despite the fact that nearly the whole town finds out about the murder before it occurs, no one ends up telling Santiago, either because they cannot find him, they don't believe the twins, they are too excited about the Bishop's arrival, or, in some cases, because they encourage the twins to go through with it.

The murder occurs (and is only elaborated upon at the end of the book). After the murder, the Vicario family leaves town due to the scandal and disgrace surrounding the events of Angela's wedding and Santiago's murder. Bayardo San Roman leaves town as well; his family comes by boat and picks him up. The Vicario twins are imprisoned for three years, and afterwards, Pablo marries his lover and Pedro leaves for the armed forces.

The reader discovers that only after Bayardo returned her did Angela fall in love with him. After she moves away from the town with her family, Angela writes him a letter each day for seventeen years. At the end of seventeen years, Bayardo San Roman returns to her, carrying all of her letters in bundles, all unopened.

The narrator ends the book with the story of the actual murder of Santiago Nasar. Their friend Cristo Bedoya had frantically looked for Santiago on the morning of the murder to warn him of the plan, but Cristo Bedoya failed to find Santiago, who was actually at his fiance Flora Miguel's house. When Flora Miguel's father finds out, he warns Santiago seconds before the twins reach Santiago. Santiago only comprehends what Flora Miguel's father is saying as he dies, stabbed outside of his own front door.

The reader is left speculating whether or not the twins actually wanted to kill Santiago. It may be presumed that in the end, the twins only killed Santiago because that was what everyone vaguely expected of them.

Analysis



The book does not make it clear who actually took Angela Vicario's virginity. The narrator is unsure why she named Santiago Nasar as the one who committed the crime, although gossip suggests that she did it to protect the man she loved. The crime against Santiago was not only done to him by the Vicario brothers, but also by all those in his community who failed to take it upon themselves to stop it. This tragedy shows that even in a community that revels in the coming of their bishop, there can still be wrongdoing. It's also possible to read the book as a Kafkaesque love and crime story: the beginning of the book is itself a variation of the start of 'The Trial' and 'The Metamorphosis', both by Franz Kafka. Garca Mrquez himself acknowledges this influence, saying that it was the reading of 'The Metamorphosis' which showed him "that it was possible to write in a different way. "

Adaptations



It was translated into English by Gregory Rabassa and by Edith Grossman. The book was adapted for the big screen in the Spanish language film: 'Chronicle of a Death Foretold' (1987), an Italian-French-Colombian co-production, directed by Francesco Rosi, starring Ornella Muti, Rupert Everett and Anthony Delon.

In 1995, Graciela Daniele adapted it into the Tony Award-nominated Broadway musical of the same name, which she also directed and choreographed.

A Romanian short-film was made in 2007.

Editions

* ISBN 1-4000-3471-X

* ISBN 978-0-14-103246-7


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