Memory and the Quest for Family History in One Hundred Years of Solitude and Song of Solomon

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Memory and the Quest for Family History in One Hundred Years of Solitude and Song of Solomon

Pierre Nora proposes that "the quest for memory is the search for one's history" (289). In their attempt to reconstruct the communal histories of their people, Toni Morrison and Gabriel García Márquez rely heavily on the use of memory as a means to rewrite the history of those oppressed because of race, class and/or gender in a world where historiography has been dominated by the white man. Memory is closely related to the reclamation of identity and history -- both personal and collective. Both memory and history dominate Cien Años de Soledad (One Hundred Years of Solitude) from the very beginning, where the character Aureliano Buendía is
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And a rush of imagination is our 'flooding'" (Morrison, "Site" 119).

The use of memory and imagination reaches the realm of myth and fantasy of both authors, whose novels are peopled with the living dead, superstitions and beliefs, folk wisdom, oral tradition, dreams, and fantastic elements. These two writers also share a historical past marked by the oppression, violence, and exploitation engendered either by colonialism or slavery, racial marginalization and the consequences of technological progress and industrialization. As Lois Parkinson Zamora aptly states when referring to the similarities between García Márquez and William Faulkner, "contemporary Latin American writers have found in the literature of the South elements akin to their own national experiences: colonial appropriation of land and culture, a decadent aristocracy, injustice and racial cruelty, belated modernization and industrial development" ("One Hundred" 28). Although she was born in Ohio, Morrison is heir not only to a family past in Alabama but also to the African American beginnings and trajectory of her people in the South of the United States, which she consciously portrays in her novels. Likewise, if "precisely because it is unresolved, history has provided the tensions and ironies of much of the best of recent Latin American fiction" as Parkinson Zamora argues ("Usable Past" 13), the African American unresolved past has too

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