Study Guide

One Hundred Years of Solitude Melquíades' Writings

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Melquíades' Writings

Another recurring theme in the novel is the collection or presentation of knowledge. At the beginning we have the gypsies with their carnival of wares. Later, during the forgetting disease, José Buendía invents the memory machine to contain the whole of human knowledge. There's the Catalonian bookstore where the young Aureliano Babilonia goes to hang out with his friends. And of course, most centrally of all, there's the room that contains the mystical writings of Melquíades, written in such a complex series of overlapping codes that they remain undecipherable until Aureliano Babilonia translates them – thus unlocking his own death.

It turns out that Melquíades wasn't just writing down spells or history; he was basically recording life in the town of Macondo, from beginning to end. Not only that, but we learn that the episodes of life are written so that they seem to all be happening at the same time.

What do we make of this mystical book of fate? Is it part of the theme of the lack of free will that runs through the novel? Are we meant to think of forbidden knowledge or harmful knowledge when we think about these parchments?

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