Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Unbearable Lightness of Being vs. One Hundred Years of Solitude

Throughout our studies of the summer reading books, I have noticed so many similarities between One Hundred Years of Solitude and The Unbearable Lightness of Being. An important idea in both of these novels is time or history, and whether it is linear or cyclical. In The Unbearable Lightness of Being time for Karenin is cyclical but time for humans was linear. In One Hundred Years of Solitude, time for the whole city of Macondo is cyclical and the members of the Buendia family are also constantly repeating generation after generation. I also think a big theme in both of these novels is fate vs. chance. For example, fate and chance represent lightness and weight and the debate about how Tereza and Tomas ended up together. In One Hundred Years of Solitude, the whole story of Macondo and the Buendias is said to be fatalistic and cannot be changed by the Buendias regardless of their actions.

3 comments:

madison kahn said...
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madison kahn said...

I agree that there are lots of similarities between these two books. However, I think Macondo moves in a more linear than circular time cycle. Johnston points out, "The narrative is given to us, for the most part, following this linear sense of time, so that we always know roughly where we are in this linear story. And we know because of the nature of the various 'invasions' which occur" (5). Johnston refers to influences of the world outside of Macondo as "invasions." These influences are what shape Macondo's history, and because the rest of the world is continuously moving forward on a linear path, so is Macondo. For example, all the inventions that Melquiades introduces spark the progression of Jose Arcadio Buendia, and therefore, that also of Macondo. Governor Moscote comes along and brings with him politics and war-- more concepts Macondo has never heard of before. Another major invasion is the banana company, which also greatly influences Macondo. Each time the invasions occur, Macondo is forced to accept them, whether the inhabitants want to or not. And so, although it may be against the people's will, the physical city of Macondo moves forward, while the minds of the individuals prefer to combine myth with reality and not accept progression.

Jack Zheng said...

It is interesting that while certain individuals / groups are ascribed linear and cyclical time, everyone and everything is affected by both of these senses of time to some degree, in both novels. For example, while Karenin finds joy in repeating the same day over and over, time still moves on linearly and he eventually dies and maybe goes into an afterlife. While Macondo's history moves linearly, at the decline of the town, the gypsies come back with the same things they brought the first time they arrived (magnets, magnifying glasses etc.) and impress the villagers just like they did decades ago. Kundera suggests that humans have no way of finding out whether time is really linear or cyclical in terms of eternal occurrence, so whether life has meaning is up to the individual to decide.