Love in the Time of Cholera
by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Analysis: What's Up With the Epigraph?
Epigraphs are like little appetizers to the great entrée of a story. They illuminate important aspects of the story, and they get us headed in the right direction.
The words I am about to express:
They now have their own crowned goddess.
– Leandro Díaz
This epigraph does just what a good epigraph should do. It makes us say, "Huh? What the heck does this epigraph mean?"
No, seriously. You've probably never heard of Leandro Díaz (we hadn't, when we first picked up this novel). The quote probably doesn't sound very familiar – who is this crowned goddess, anyway? It seems we might need a little outside information to decipher the meaning of this quote. Never fear! We have the power of the Internet at our fingertips.
Thanks to the magic of online search engines, we know that Leandro Díaz is a famous composer of vallenato, a genre of music that originated in the city of Valledupar in northeastern Colombia (coincidentally, the same region that serves as the setting for the novel). Vallenato got its start when cattle-farming minstrels used song as a means of transmitting news and stories from town to town.
That explains why these lines sound so sing-song-y. It also sets the tone for the story we're about to read: "The words I am about to express" is a good introduction, don't you think? It makes us want to sit back, relax, and get ready to listen to the minstrel's ballad. As you read, you'll notice that Florentino refers to the object of his adoration, Fermina, as a "crowned goddess" several times, and even composes a special waltz just for her with that title.