Most of the writing that we come across in Love in the Time of Cholera is in the form of love letters, but interestingly enough we never read a single excerpt from one of those letters. No matter – their content isn't what's important. Instead, the other ways in which we can read letters take on a greater importance. Handwriting, the scent that perfumes the pages, the manner in which they're delivered – all of these elements are signs that can be "read" by the characters. The very act of sending – or not sending – a letter sends a message, regardless of the contents of the envelope.
Questions About Literature and Writing
Pay attention to the transport of letters – who sends them, who receives them, and who keeps them, and what messages do these actions convey?
According to literary critic Roberto González Echevarría, 20th-century Latin American fiction is preoccupied with the discourse of anthropology and myth, or what he calls an "archive." Because of this preoccupation, archives, or collections of papers and artifacts that document history in some way, tend to pop up within the novels themselves. What archives do we come across in <em>Love in the Time of Cholera</em>? Are all of them written? What is the history that they document? Are the archives ever destroyed? (Hint: Think about the repetition of bonfires in the novel.)
Florentino isn't the only reader and writer in the novel. Who else reads and writes? What do their reading and writing habits say about them, and how do they distinguish those characters from Florentino?
Chew on This
Florentino's status as the most prolific writer in the book makes him the most central character of the novel, and thus the character whose perspective most closely aligns with that of the author himself.
Florentino's inability to write in any other style besides romantic verse is indicative of his limited understanding of the nature of love as a purely romantic emotion.