By: Gabriel Garcia Marquez


Translated by: Avni Spahiu

Nobel Lecture, December 8, 1982

Antonio Pigafetta, a Florentine navigator who accompanied Magellan on his first voyage around the world as he passed through our southern American lands, made a very accurate writing that, however, resembles an adventure in the imagination. In it he had noted that he had seen pigs with navels on their thighs, birds without claws dropping themselves on the backs of their mates, and others resembling tongueless pelicans, with spoon-like beaks. He wrote that he had seen a bastard creature with the head and ears of a mule and with the body of a camel, the legs of a deer and the reindeer of a horse. He had described how the first native he had met in Patagonia had reacted, at the sight of the mirror, in which case that passionate giant had lost his toruan, had been terrorized by the image of his own face.

This short and fascinating book, which has since sown the seeds of our novels today, is by no means a shocking description of our reality at the time. The Chronicles of India have left us with many more. El Dorado, our much-desired illusory island, has been featured on numerous maps for many years, with different locations and shapes to satisfy the cartographers' imagination. In his quest for the fountain of eternal youth, the mystical Alvar Nunjez Kabeza de Vaka explored northern Mexico for eight years on a disappointing expedition whose members ate each other and of whom only five returned, out of six hundred take that track. One of the many unsolved mysteries of that age is that of eleven thousand mules, each loaded with a hundred pounds of gold,that Cuzco had once left them to pay Atahualpa's tribute and that he had never reached his destination. Later, in colonial times, chickens were sold in the Cartagena de Indias, raised on loamy soils, the legs of which held small grains of gold inside. The greed of gold prospectors has accompanied us to this day. Until late in the last century, a German mission appointed to study the construction of an overseas railway across the Ishmael of Panama concluded that the project was feasible on one condition: that the rails not be made of iron, which was not abundant in the region. but from gold.The greed of gold prospectors has accompanied us to this day. Until late in the last century, a German mission appointed to study the construction of an overseas railway across the Ishmael of Panama concluded that the project was feasible on one condition: that the rails not be made of iron, which was not abundant in the region. but from gold.The greed of gold prospectors has accompanied us to this day. Until late in the last century, a German mission appointed to study the construction of an overseas railway across the Ishmael of Panama concluded that the project was feasible on one condition: that the rails not be made of iron, which was not abundant in the region. but from gold.

Our independence from Spanish domination did not save us from madness. General Antonio Lopez de Santana, three times dictator of Mexico, organized a grand funeral for his right foot that he had lost in the so-called Pasta War. General Gabriel Garcia Moreno ruled Ecuador for sixteen years as absolute monarch; when he died, his corpse was seated on the presidential throne, dressed in full uniform and with numerous medals on his chest. General Maximiliano Hernandez Martinez, the theosophical despot, invented a pendulum to investigate the poison in his food, and he covered the street lights with red paper to prevent the measles epidemic. The statue of General Francisco Moraz, erected in the main square of Teguçigalpa, is, in fact, that of Marshal Neit,purchased at a second-hand sculpture depot in Paris.

Eleven years ago Chilean Pablo Neruda, one of the greatest poets of our time, thrilled this audience with his speech. Since then, Europeans of goodwill - and sometimes even those of bad will - have been amazed, with increasing force, by the supernatural news of Latin America, that endless kingdom of wandering men and historical women, the stubbornness the infinity of which davaritet in legend. We had no rest time. A Promethean president, locked in the burning palace, died fighting against an entire army, alone; and, two suspicious plane crashes, which have not yet been clarified, took the life of another generous president and that of a democracy fighter who had restored the dignity of his people. There have been five wars and seventeen coups;a diabolical dictator was born, who is implementing, in the name of God, the first Latin American ethnocide of our time. In the meantime, twenty million Latin American children have died before the age of one - more than they have been born in Europe since 1970. Those who have lost track of repression number nearly one hundred and twenty thousand, which is as if no one had any idea where all the inhabitants of Uppsala were lost. Many of the arrested pregnant women were born in Argentine prisons, while no one knows about the walks and the identities of their children, who were secretly adopted or taken to orphanages by order of the military authorities because they tried to change this state of affairs.about two hundred thousand men and women have died across the continent and over one hundred thousand have lost their lives in three small unfortunate Central American countries: Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala. If this had happened in the United States, the corresponding figure would have been one million six hundred thousand violent deaths in four years.

One million people have fled Chile, a country with a tradition of hospitality - that is, ten percent of its population. Uruguay, a small country of two and a half million people, which considered itself the most civilized country on the continent, has lost every fifth citizen in exile. Since 1979 the civil war in El Salvador has produced one refugee every twenty minutes. The country that could be created by all the refugees and forced immigrants of Latin America would have a population larger than Norway.

I dare say that this is a reality beyond the masses and not only his literary expression has deserved the attention of the Swedish Academy of Letters. A reality not of paper, but a reality that lives within us and that determines every moment of our countless daily deaths, among which this wandering and nostalgic Colombian constitutes only one figure, isolated only by chance. Poets and beggars, musicians and prophets, warriors and villains, all creatures of that rampant reality, did not have to have much imagination, as our key problem has been the lack of conventional means to make our lives believable. This, my friends, is the essence of our loneliness.

And if these difficulties, the essence of which we share, hinder us, it is understandable that the rational talents on this side of the world, exalted in the contemplation of their own cultures, would have been found without valid means to interpret us. It is more than natural that they insist on measuring us with the box they use for themselves, forgetting that the destructions of life are not the same for everyone and that the search for our identity is as heavy and bloody as it has been for ta. Interpreting our reality through samples that are not ours, only serves to make us even more unfamiliar, even less free, even more lonely. Honorable Europe could perhaps be more perceptive if it tried to see us in its past.If he remembered that it took London three hundred years to build the first wall of the city and another three hundred years to have a bishop; that Rome lived in a darkness of uncertainty for twenty years, until an Etruscan king made it into history, and that present-day peaceful Switzerland, entertaining us with soft cheeses and pleasant hours, bloodied Europe with mercenaries until the sixteenth century. Even at the height of the Renaissance, twelve thousand mercenaries paid by the imperial armies plundered and devastated Rome, and eight thousand of its inhabitants were slaughtered by the sword.bloodied Europe with mercenaries until the sixteenth century. Even at the height of the Renaissance, twelve thousand mercenaries paid by the imperial armies plundered and devastated Rome, and eight thousand of its inhabitants were slaughtered by the sword.bloodied Europe with mercenaries until the sixteenth century. Even at the height of the Renaissance, twelve thousand mercenaries paid by the imperial armies plundered and devastated Rome, and eight thousand of its inhabitants were slaughtered by the sword.

I do not want to embody the illusions of Tonio Kroger, whose dreams of uniting the virgin north with the passionate south were exalted here, fifty-three years ago, by Thomas Mann. But I believe that those shrewd Europeans who are fighting, even here, for a fairer and more humane homeland, would help us much more if they reconsidered the way they see us. Solidarity with our dreams will not make us feel less lonely as long as it does not translate into concrete acts of legitimate support for all peoples who have the illusion that they have a life of their own for the distribution of the world.

Latin America neither wants nor has any reason to be a pioneer without having a will of its own, nor is it an expression of desire that its quest for independence and originality become a Western aspiration. Nevertheless, the advances of navigation that have narrowed such distances between America and Europe seem, on the other hand, to have highlighted our cultural distance. Why, then, is that originality that has been so readily known to us in literature being so denied to us in our heavy-handed efforts for social change? Why think that the social justice that progressive Europeans demand for their countries, can not even be the goal of Latin America, with different methods for different conditions? Jo:the immense violence and pain of our history are the result of centuries of inequality and indescribable grief and not a conspiracy prepared three thousand leagues away from our home. But many European leaders and thinkers have thought this way, with the clever minds of the elders, who have forgotten their youthful excesses, as if they were unable to find any destiny other than that of life at the mercy of the two great gods of the world. . This, my friends, is the true measure of our loneliness.

Despite this, to oppression, robbery and abandonment, we respond with life. Neither floods nor plagues, nor famines nor cataclysms, nor even endless wars century after century, have been able to defeat the persistent advantage of life over death. An advantage that is growing and accelerating: seventy-four million more births than deaths occur each year, a sufficient number of new lives to increase New York City's population sevenfold each year. Most of these births occur in countries with fewer resources - including, of course, those in Latin America. On the other hand, the most prosperous countries have managed to accumulate destructive force enough to destroy, for a hundred times in a row, not only the human beings that have existed until today,but also all the living beings that have ever breathed on this unfortunate planet.

On a day like this, my teacher, William Faulkner, said, "I refuse to accept the end of man." I would not deserve to stand on this throne, which was his, if I were not fully aware that the colossal tragedy that he refused to recognize thirty-two years ago, is now, for the first time since the beginning of humanity, nothing more than a simple scientific possibility. Faced with this horrific reality, which may have seemed just like a utopia throughout human time, we, the inventors of the stories, who will believe in everything, have every right to believe that it is not too late to decide on others how they will die, where love will be proved true and happiness possible, and where races judged in a hundred years alone will have, ultimately and eternally, a second chance on earth./ “Akademia” Magazine / Telegrafi /

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