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Quotes

Quote #1

Florentino Ariza wrote every night.  Letter by letter, he had no mercy as he poisoned himself with the smoke from the palm oil lamps in the back room of the notions shop, and his letters became more discursive and more lunatic the more he tried to imitate his favorite poets from the Popular Library, which even at that time was approaching eighty volumes.  (2.47)

Florentino's appetite for writing and reading is as exaggerated as his appetite for sex.  We might call his collection of writings – the journals that he fills up, stacks of letters that he sends, and manuscripts that sit unpublished – an archive, a common trope in Latin American magical realism, and in García Márquez's novels in particular.  The infiniteness of Florentino's archive threatens to drive him mad.

Quote #2

Reading had become his insatiable vice […] he read whatever came his way, as if it had been ordained by fate, and despite his many years of reading, he still could not judge what was good and what was not in all that he had read.  The only thing clear to him was that he preferred verse to prose, and in verse he preferred love poems […] (2.63)

Florentino's inability to distinguish between good and bad prose means he's doomed to read everything that crosses his path.  It's information overload – imagine trying to read everything on the Internet!

Quote #3

he wrote a letter of feverish love to his wife and children, a letter of gratitude for his existence in which he revealed how much and with how much fervor he had loved life.  It was a farewell of twenty heartrending pages in which the progress of the disease could be observed in the deteriorating script, and it was not necessary to know the writer to realize that he had signed his name with his last breath.  (3.18)

In another example of the ways in which letters are read on multiple levels, Dr. Juvenal Urbino's father communicates with more than just words in the last letter that he writes to his family.  His very handwriting is indicative of his failing health.

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