Review: ‘The Story of a Shipwrecked Sailor’, Gabriel Garcia Marquez

The Story of a Shipwrecked SailorThe Story of a Shipwrecked Sailor by Gabriel García Márquez
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a moving story, and Garcia Marquez’s words make it come real — and yet, I feel as if this reality was enhanced by me having experienced an unending sea and the (fearful?) knowledge that the closest shore is not close enough. Would someone who has not been to sea be able to know the same emotions? I cannot say… Indeed, the philosophical musings one might wish to endeavour upon with this work are numerous, and I will refrain from others — the reader can decide these for themselves.

What I would note is that the way this story draws to a close reinforces one’s humanity; even if one has no passion for the sea, this makes the book worthy of a read.

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Cabo da Boa Esperança

Ele dobra o Cabo da Boa Esperança.
He is rounding the Cape of Good Hope.
— Portuguese proverb

The Cabo das Tormentas, or Cape of Storms, as it was originally known after being named by Bartolomeu Dias was a monumental place for Europeans, and especially the Portuguese. But, before delving further into this story, I will note that I am not a linguist of the language nor do I have that good a sense of their culture or life — I am, quite simply, a master of conjecture. And, my mastery could be entirely misled. 🙂

The meaning of this phrase is something I’ll return to before espousing this wild conjecture I have in my mind. Namely, it signifies that the person in question is in the final phase of their life and that nothing else of significance will happen for them.

João II, o Príncipe Perfeito, decided to rename the cape from the Cape of Storms to that of Good Hope — his reaction, no doubt, signifying that for him the passing of the cape was the signal of divine providence he had hoped and looked for. He had been financing journeys to the distant lands for a long time, hoping to hear that the ships made progress towards India and yet thus far, all they had been able to do was to make their way further south. Yet, where they really had to go was north. This cape provided the first base after which they were likely to move further north, and hence this was a sign.

The rounding of the very same cape, therefore, was one of the most important moments ever. Who could guess that another few thousand kilometres remained before their carracks could reach the Malabar coast, and who could even guess what sort of difficulties they would find when they got there. Fortunately, when that time came they were up to the challenge as they had men of sufficient quality to lead in those troubled times.

So, my conjecture: what seemed to be an easy task would be such in the eye of the person in the old country. For them, the rounding of the cape made for that final stretch, even if unknowingly the stretch could take twenty years to conquer and be a few thousand kilometres long. They were *almost* there. And, with that mentality, the rounding of the cape was defining moment.

And, as such, it has remained in the language even though history shows otherwise for the country as a whole.

Contradiction is the essence of the universe.

A essência do universo é a contradição.
— Fernando Pessoa

As my previous post from half a month ago shows, Sr Pessoa’s statement is so very true. Even though I verily planned to write more, it hasn’t happened — now, however, I am writing about not writing. What a contradiction in every way.

Yet, fortunately, over the last few days I have managed to visit a few places so I’ll be able to put my thoughts on paper regarding those — and during that time, hopefully formulate some other expressive thoughts.


October was a good month for me but less so for this blog, as can be observed from the fact not a single post was written in that time. Indeed, as the two main methods of what I used to post about have become more complex (more on that below) I’ll need to think of something else or replace those with other similarly topical posts.

But, to be more concrete… I used to write about places I would visit and how these were, and, secondly, forward reviews from Goodreads as I do tend to write something on every book over there.

The first of these has fallen a bit to the wayside as a month in Norwich (October) did not allow for much exploring (read: I did not choose to spend my time discovering new places or rediscovering the old) and the month before that the sea was quite limiting in what I could see. The one option is to look back in time and write of my memories of the places I visited before Scotland, and I might go for that — we’ll see.

The second one — Goodreads reviews — have become more complex as the direct link between the two services was severed by Goodreads some time ago. I have seen mention of scripts and such which can still convert a review from one to the other, but I have not really taken the time to explore these in as much detail as I should have.

In other words, I hope to write more or at least ensure that what I write will end up here, but the plan for getting to that stage is pretty weak.

How I Review Books

Books can be looked at from many points of view. My one most strenous belief is that when I talk about books, you should not hear the plot in too great a detail (unless the author intends the ending to be known before the book begins). Hence, I rarely comment on plot devices or any story development as I feel I could be shortchanging the reader of the review. Continue reading “How I Review Books”

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