"The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World" is a short story written by Colombian author Gabriel García Márquez in 1968. Originally written in Spanish, the story was translated into English in 1972, and was published with a collection of Márquez's short stories entitled Leaf Storm and Other Stories. By the time this touching story hit U.S. bookstores, Márquez was already famous for his stunning novel 100 Years of Solitude, published in 1967. 100 Years of Solitude catapulted Márquez to fame, had a huge impact on the world of Latin American writers, helped establish magical realism as a literary genre, and led to Márquez's Nobel Prize in Literature in 1982.
So where does "The Handsomest Drowned Man" fit in? It's tempting to think of this work as a slice of 100 Years of Solitude. It tells the tale of a small, coastal fishing village (presumably in Latin America) interrupted by the arrival of a dead body washed up by the waves. This drowned man has a huge impact on the village, which is changed forever by his arrival. Themes of community, myth, and the ideals of man are found in this piece and in many of Márquez's other works. The genre which so defined 100 Years of Solitude – magical realism – also features heavily in "The Handsomest Drowned Man." Lots more on that to come, we promise. Shmoop on!
It's pretty easy to let ourselves be satisfied with the status quo. It's easy not to work too hard, not to try too much, not to care enough to want more. To be merely content is tempting; it doesn't take any work.
And then, there are those people who avoid complacency at all costs. They're always striving for something bigger, better, more difficult.
And then there are people who are so great, they inspire the rest of us to strive for greatness ourselves. They are, through their lives and abilities, testaments to the exceptional things that people can do. They get us to dream bigger and want more.
In Márquez's story, the truly great happens to be a dead man. But he inspires others nonetheless. We wonder, what is it about these people that has such an effect on those around them? Think about the people who inspire you – maybe friends, teachers, coaches, writers, heck, maybe stand-up comedians or fictional characters. How do they get you to want more? And how does outward admiration for them turn inward, and create the desire for self-betterment? Take a look at "The Handsomest Drowned Man" and tell us what you think.