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Authors: Gabriel García Márquez

Strange Pilgrims

BOOK: Strange Pilgrims
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Gabriel García Márquez’s

“García Márquez not only tells stories, he weaves spells.… [He] constructs a world at once so concrete and so fantastic that we never question such events. Like the disconnected episodes of nightmare they are vivid and inevitable.”

New York Daily News

“These stories, like
Love in the Time of Cholera
, seem charged with the world’s mystery.”

USA Today

“[With] lovely prose and … poignant insights … García Márquez captures with lyrical precision the emotions of disorientation and fear, coupled with a sense of new possibility, experienced by Latin Americans in Europe.”

Publishers Weekly

“With a surreal phrase or a magic image he allows us to see reality, grave and comic at once, in a unique light.”

New York Newsday

“García Márquez manages to persuade us that old age can be a time of growth—despite decay—with a concentrated dynamism of its own that is no less vital than the effervescent energy of youth.”

The Wall Street Journal

Strange Pilgrims
proves again that the author’s distinctive magic realism can come in relatively small containers.… These stories convey all the enchanting density of García Márquez’s fiction at its best.”


Gabriel García Márquez

Gabriel García Márquez was born in Colombia in 1927. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1982. He is the author of many works of fiction and nonfiction, including
One Hundred Years of Solitude, Love in the Time of Cholera, The Autumn of the Patriarch, The General in His Labyrinth,
News of a Kidnapping
. He died in 2014.


One Hundred Years of Solitude
In Evil Hour
The Autumn of the Patriarch
Vive Sandino
Chronicle of a Death Foretold
Love in the Time of Cholera
The Fragrance of Guava
The Story of a Shipwrecked Sailor
The General in His Labyrinth
The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World: A Tale for Children
Of Love and Other Demons
Memories of My Melancholy Whores

No One Writes to the Colonel and Other Stories
Leaf Storm and Other Stories
Innocent Eréndira and Other Stories
Collected Stories
Collected Novellas
Strange Pilgrims

The Story of a Shipwrecked Sailor
Clandestine in Chile: The Adventures of Miguel Littín
News of a Kidnapping
A Country for Children
Living to Tell the Tale


Translation copyright © 1993 by Gabriel García Márquez

All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Vintage Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York, and in Canada by Random House of Canada Limited, Toronto.

Originally published in Spanish as
Doce cuentos peregrinos
by Mondadori España, S.A., Madrid. Copyright © 1992 by Gabriel García Márquez. Copyright © 1992 by Mondadori España, S.A. Originally published in English in hardcover in the United States by Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc., New York, in 1993.

Vintage is a registered trademark and Vintage International and colophon are trademarks of Random House, Inc.

Some of the stories in this collection were originally published in the following:

The New Yorker
: “Bon Voyage, Mr. President” and “María dos Prazeres”

The Paris Review
: “The Saint”

: “Sleeping Beauty and the Airplane,” “The Happy Summer of Miss Forbes” (now titled “Miss Forbes’s Summer of Happiness”), and “The Trail of Your Blood in the Snow”

The Library of Congress has cataloged the Knopf edition as follows:

García Márquez, Gabriel, [date]

[Doce cuentos peregrinos. English]

Strange pilgrims / Gabriel García Márquez;
translated by Edith Grossman.

p. cm.

I. Latin Americans—Europe—Fiction. I. Titles.

PQ8180.17.A73D6313 1993

863—dc20 93—12257

Vintage ISBN
-10: 1-4000-3469-8

Vintage ISBN
-13: 978-1-4000-3469-7

eBook ISBN: 978-1-101-91113-6

Cover design by John Gall
Cover images (top) © 2006 Banco de México Diego Rivera & Frida Kahlo Museums Trust; (bottom) Autoretrato del artista adolescente, 1935, by Emilio Baz Viaud. Private collection, courtesy


Prologue: Why Twelve, Why Stories, Why Pilgrims

in this book were written over the last eighteen years. Before they reached their current form, five of them had been journalistic notes and screenplays, and one was a television serial. Fifteen years ago I recounted another during a taped interview with a friend who transcribed and published the story, and now I’ve rewritten it on the basis of his version. This has been a strange creative experience that should be explained, if only so that children who want to be writers when they grow up will know how insatiable and abrasive the writing habit can be.

The first story idea came to me in the early 1970s, the result of an illuminating dream I had after living in Barcelona for five years. I dreamed I was attending my own funeral, walking with a group of friends dressed in solemn
mourning but in a festive mood. We all seemed happy to be together. And I more than anyone else, because of the wonderful opportunity that death afforded me to be with my friends from Latin America, my oldest and dearest friends, the ones I had not seen for so long. At the end of the service, when they began to disperse, I attempted to leave too, but one of them made me see with decisive finality that as far as I was concerned, the party was over. “You’re the only one who can’t go,” he said. Only then did I understand that dying means never being with friends again.

I don’t know why, but I interpreted that exemplary dream as a conscientious examination of my own identity, and I thought this was a good point of departure for writing about the strange things that happen to Latin Americans in Europe. It was a heartening find, for I had just finished
The Autumn of the Patriarch
, my most difficult and adventurous work, and I did not know where to go from there.

For some two years I made notes on story subjects as they occurred to me, but could not decide what to do with them. Since I did not have a notebook in the house on the night I resolved to begin, my children lent me one of their composition books. And on our frequent travels they were the ones who carried it in their schoolbags for fear it would be lost. I accumulated sixty-four ideas with so many detailed notes that all I needed to do was write them.

In 1974, when I returned to Mexico from Barcelona, it became clear to me that this book should not be the novel it had seemed at first, but a collection of short
stories based on journalistic facts that would be redeemed from their mortality by the astute devices of poetry. I already had published three volumes of short stories, yet none of them had been conceived and composed as a whole. On the contrary, each story had been an autonomous, occasional piece. And therefore writing these sixty-four story ideas might be a fascinating adventure if I could write them all in a single stroke, with an internal unity of tone and style that would make them inseparable in the reader’s memory.

I composed the first two—“The Trail of Your Blood in the Snow” and “Miss Forbes’s Summer of Happiness”—in 1976, and published them soon afterward in various literary supplements in several countries. I continued working without a break, but in the middle of the third story, the one about my funeral, I felt myself tiring more than if I had been working on a novel. The same thing happened with the fourth. In fact, I did not have the energy to finish them. Now I know why: The effort involved in writing a short story is as intense as beginning a novel, where everything must be defined in the first paragraph: structure, tone, style, rhythm, length, and sometimes even the personality of a character. All the rest is the pleasure of writing, the most intimate, solitary pleasure one can imagine, and if the rest of one’s life is not spent correcting the novel, it is because the same iron rigor needed to begin the book is required to end it. But a story has no beginning, no end: Either it works or it doesn’t. And if it doesn’t, my own experience, and the experience of others, shows that most of the time it is better for one’s health to start again in another direction, or toss the story
in the wastebasket. Someone, I don’t remember who, made the point with this comforting phrase: “Good writers are appreciated more for what they tear up than for what they publish.” It’s true I didn’t tear up the first drafts and notes, but I did something worse: I tossed them into oblivion.

BOOK: Strange Pilgrims
11.95Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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