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The concept of the universal book and its affect on both character and reader in One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and "The Garden of Forking Paths" from Ficciones by Jorges Luis Borges.

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The concept of the universal book and its affect on both character and reader in One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and "The Garden of Forking Paths" from Ficciones by Jorges Luis Borges. Since the birth of literature, writers have sought to define the enigma of time in such a way that it can be encompassed by the human mind. Over the years, authors have developed a myriad of ideas concerning this topic, not the least of which is the metaphor of the universal book; a book that contains all time: that which has happened, is happening and will happen. In One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and "The Garden of Forking Paths" in Ficciones by Jorge Luis Borges, both authors develop this concept of the universal book and explore its effect on character and reader. In each novel, the universal book serves as an extension of the influence of the character that penned it; Melquiades in One Hundred Years of Solitude and Tsui Pen in "The Garden of Forking Paths". In Marquez' work, Melquiades is introduced as the initial external force to reach the Eden of Macondo, and it is from this point that his influence extends over the Buendia family and thus the entire town. At first, his influence is direct as he and his gypsies introduce the town to technological marvels from the outside world and befriend the Buendia clan. ...read more.


I proposed various solutions, all of them inadequate. We discussed them. Finally, Stephen Albert said: "In a guessing game to which the answer is chess, which word is the only one prohibited?" I thought for a moment and then replied: "The word is chess." "Precisely," said Albert. "The Garden of Forking Paths is an enormous guessing game, or parable, in which the subject is time. The rules of the game forbid the use of the word itself."3 Melquiades' influence changes after he completes his books and dies. He is the first person to die in Macondo and so introduces death to the Buendia family and the town. His death marks the transition of his influence from the physical, through technology and his physical being, to the metaphysical, through his books and his ghost. Furthermore, with the death of Melquiades, we reach the transition point in the novel where the Buendia family begins its descent towards ultimate destruction in the final chapters. In "The Garden of Forking Paths", the books act as a continuation of the influence of another rather enigmatic character, the ancient governor Tsui Pen, over his descendants, specifically a certain Yu Tsun. However, unlike Marquez who has an entire novel in which to develop the nature of the influence of Melquiades, Borges is restricted in his development of this theme through the structure of his story. ...read more.


Ultimately, Yu Tsun kills Albert. According to the philosophy of Tsui Pen, there are a number of ways this could have happened; however, the path by which it arrives is itself unimportant, only that the event occurs. This concept makes Albert's death inevitable and the quotation "The future exists now" marks the point where the inevitability of this event is realized by the central character, Yu Tsun. In One Hundred Years of Solitude, the destruction of the final Buendia, Aureliano, is as inevitable as the death of Albert in "The Garden of Forking Paths." Like Borges, Marquez also uses a similar phrase to mark the point where the inevitability of the destruction of Macondo, and the Buendia line, dawns upon Aureliano. In Chapter 18, Aureliano, through Melquiade's ghost, discovers the key to deciphering the gypsy's parchments. The result is the phrase: "Everything is known"9 which parallels "The future exists now" from "The Garden of Forking Paths". The line draws all things together ("everything" being all time within in the novel) to a state of certainty. This marks the enlightenment of Aureliano to his ultimate and ultimately unchangeable path to destruction. An important observation is that both characters, upon realization of their destinies as outlined in the universal books, do not make attempts to change them. Thus both Borges and Marquez neatly sidestep the potential for paradox because in both cases, inevitability is the ultimate conclusion to both stories. "Everything is known; The future is now; and All roads lead to Rome." -D. ...read more.

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