Summary of “How One Hundred Years of Solitude Became a Classic”

They knew, as the publishing giant Alfred A. Knopf once put it, that “Many a novel is dead the day it is published.” Unexpectedly, One Hundred Years of Solitude went on to sell over 45 million copies, solidified its stature as a literary classic, and garnered García Márquez fame and acclaim as one of the greatest Spanish-language writers in history.
The writer replied with enthusiasm that he was working on One Hundred Years of Solitude, “a very long and very complex novel in which I have placed my best illusions.” Two and a half months before the novel’s release in 1967, García Márquez’s enthusiasm turned into fear.
One Hundred Years of Solitude could not have been published in a better year for the new Latin American novel.
Contrary to the localism of indigenismo, reviewers saw One Hundred Years of Solitude as a cosmopolitan story, one that “Could correct the path of the modern novel,” according to the Latin American literary critic Ángel Rama.
The Italian writer Natalia Ginzburg forcefully called One Hundred Years of Solitude “An alive novel,” assuaging contemporary fears that the form was in crisis.
During One Hundred Years of Solitude’s first decade or so, to make sense of this “Unclassifiable work,” as a reviewer put it, readers opted for labeling it as a mixture of “Fantasy and reality,” “a realist novel full of imagination,” “a curious case of mythical realism,” “Suprarrealism,”or, as a critic for Le Monde called it, “The marvelous symbolic.”
Asturias declared that the text of One Hundred Years of Solitude plagiarized Balzac’s 1834 novel The Quest of the Absolute.
The Mexican poet and Nobel recipient, Octavio Paz, called it “Watery poetry.” The English writer Anthony Burgess claimed it could not be “Compared with the genuinely literary explorations of Borges and [Vladimir] Nabokov.” Spain’s most influential literary publisher in the 1960s, Carlos Barral, not only refused to import the novel for publication, but he also later wrote “It was not the best novel of its time.” Indeed, entrenched criticism helps to make a literary work like One Hundred Years of Solitude more visible to new generations of readers and eventually contributes to its consecration.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The Art of Being Alone: May Sarton’s Stunning 1938 Ode to Solitude”

“Oh comforting solitude, how favorable thou art to original thought!” wrote the founding father of neuroscience in his advice to young scientists.
The poet Elizabeth Bishop believed that everyone should experience at least one prolonged period of solitude in life.
For in true solitude, as Wendell Berry so memorably observed, “One’s inner voices become audible [and] in consequence, one responds more clearly to other lives” – an intuitive understanding of what psychologists have since found: that “Fertile solitude” is the basic unit of a full and contented life.
In the neutral state of aloneness, the psychoemotional line between solitude and loneliness can be as thin as a razor’s edge and as lacerating to the soul.
How to draw it skillfully in orienting ourselves to the world, exterior and interior, is what poet, novelist, and memoirist May Sarton explores in a beautiful poem she penned ten days after her twenty-sixth birthday, decades before she came to contemplate solitude in stunning prose.
For whom the heart has cried, for whom the frail hand burns)Is swung out in the night alone, so luminous and still,The waking spirit attends, the loving spirit gazes.
Without communion, without touch, and comes to know at last.
Complement with Louise Bourgeois on how solitude enriches creative work, Virginia Woolf on the relationship between loneliness and creativity, and Olivia Laing’s masterwork on the art of being alone, then revisit other readings of beautiful poems of existential radiance: Derek Walcott’s “Love After Love,” Wisława Szymborska’s “Life-While-You-Wait,” Jane Kenyon’s “Having It Out With Melancholy,” and Adrienne Rich’s “Planetarium.”

The orginal article.

Summary of “Hermann Hesse on Solitude, the Value of Hardship, the Courage to Be Yourself, and How to Find Your Destiny”

When destiny comes to a man from within, from his innermost being, it makes him strong, it makes him into a god A man who has recognized his destiny never tries to change it.
The endeavor to change destiny is a childish pursuit that makes men quarrel and kill one another All sorrow, poison, and death are alien, imposed destiny.
Solitude is the path over which destiny endeavors to lead man to himself.
A path fraught with terrors, where snakes and toads lie in wait Without solitude there is no suffering, without solitude there is no heroism.
A man must be indifferent to the possibility of falling, if he wants to taste of solitude and to face up to his own destiny.
Solitude is not chosen, any more than destiny is chosen.
Solitude comes to us if we have within us the magic stone that attracts destiny.
A century later, the entire piece remains a spectacular and deeply insightful read, as does the whole of Hesse’s If the War Goes On. Complement this particular fragment with Ursula K. Le Guin on suffering and the other side of pain, Louise Bourgeois on how solitude enriches creative work and Elizabeth Bishop on why everyone should experience at least one long period of solitude in life, then revisit Hesse on the discipline of savoring life’s little joys, why books will survive all future technology, the three types of readers, and what trees teach us about belonging and life.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The Difficult Art of Giving Space in Love”

“Love one another but make not a bond of love: let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls,” the great Lebanese-American poet, philosopher, and painter Kahlil Gibran counseled in what remains the finest advice on the secret to a loving and lasting relationship.
In a letter to the trailblazing German expressionist painter Paula Modersohn-Becker, Rainer Maria Rilke offered some spectacular advice on managing the bipolar pull of autonomy and togetherness in a way that assures the longevity of any close bond and protects love from self-destruction.
The passages appear in the wonderful poetry and prose anthology Rilke on Love and Other Difficulties: Translations and Considerations, selected and translated by the scholar and philosopher John Mood.
For, if it lies in the nature of indifference and of the crowd to recognize no solitude, then love and friendship are there for the purpose of continually providing the opportunity for solitude.
Once the realization is accepted that even between the closest human beings infinite distances continue to exist, a wonderful living side by side can grow up, if they succeed in loving the distance between them which makes it possible for each to see the other whole and against a wide sky!
Self-transformation is precisely what life is, and human relationships, which are an extract of life, are the most changeable of all, rising and falling from minute to minute, and lovers are those in whose relationship and contact no one moment resembles another.
For one human being to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks, the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation.
Complement this particular portion of the altogether beautiful and healing Rilke on Love and Other Difficulties with Anna Dostoyevskaya on the secret to a happy marriage, Virginia Woolf on what makes love last, and Kahlil Gibran on the courage to weather the uncertainties of love, then revisit Rilke on the lonely patience of creative work, what it takes to be an artist, why we read, and how hardship enlarges us.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The Difficult Art of Giving Space in Love”

“Love one another but make not a bond of love: let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls,” the great Lebanese-American poet, philosopher, and painter Kahlil Gibran counseled in what remains the finest advice on the secret to a loving and lasting relationship.
In a letter to the trailblazing German expressionist painter Paula Modersohn-Becker, Rainer Maria Rilke offered some spectacular advice on managing the bipolar pull of autonomy and togetherness in a way that assures the longevity of any close bond and protects love from self-destruction.
The passages appear in the wonderful poetry and prose anthology Rilke on Love and Other Difficulties: Translations and Considerations, selected and translated by the scholar and philosopher John Mood.
For, if it lies in the nature of indifference and of the crowd to recognize no solitude, then love and friendship are there for the purpose of continually providing the opportunity for solitude.
Once the realization is accepted that even between the closest human beings infinite distances continue to exist, a wonderful living side by side can grow up, if they succeed in loving the distance between them which makes it possible for each to see the other whole and against a wide sky!
Self-transformation is precisely what life is, and human relationships, which are an extract of life, are the most changeable of all, rising and falling from minute to minute, and lovers are those in whose relationship and contact no one moment resembles another.
For one human being to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks, the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation.
Complement this particular portion of the altogether beautiful and healing Rilke on Love and Other Difficulties with Anna Dostoyevskaya on the secret to a happy marriage, Virginia Woolf on what makes love last, and Kahlil Gibran on the courage to weather the uncertainties of love, then revisit Rilke on the lonely patience of creative work, what it takes to be an artist, why we read, and how hardship enlarges us.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Before You Can Be With Others, First Learn to Be Alone”

Like many poets and philosophers through the ages, Poe stressed the significance of solitude.
Two decades later, the idea of solitude captured Ralph Waldo Emerson’s imagination in a slightly different way: quoting Pythagoras, he wrote: ‘In the morning, – solitude; that nature may speak to the imagination, as she does never in company.
In the 20th century, the idea of solitude formed the centre of Hannah Arendt’s thought.
What Eichmann showed Arendt was that society could function freely and democratically only if it were made up of individuals engaged in the thinking activity – an activity that required solitude.
We might ask, we become lonely in our solitude? Isn’t there some danger that we will become isolated individuals, cut off from the pleasures of friendship? Philosophers have long made a careful, and important, distinction between solitude and loneliness.
Echoing Plato, Arendt observed: ‘Thinking, existentially speaking, is a solitary but not a lonely business; solitude is that human situation in which I keep myself company.
In solitude, Arendt never longed for companionship or craved camaraderie because she was never truly alone.
Arendt reminds us, if we lose our capacity for solitude, our ability to be alone with ourselves, then we lose our very ability to think.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How to be alone: the difference between loneliness and solitude”

Wait - isn’t there a difference between solitude and loneliness?We use the two interchangeably because we’ve been conditioned to think of them as the same state; someone who spends time alone must, naturally, be lonely.
Our fear of solitude is really fear of boredomWe read our phones while we brush our teeth.
We’re never taught how to be alone with ourselves.
The joy of being aloneReal solitude is almost impossible to experience in the modern world.
Alone but not lonely: how to utilize solitudeSolitude is scary because it reminds us of how small we are.
Like any fear, the only way to overcome solitude is to face it.
Ease yourself in, with 10 minutes, then 20, then 30, of solitude a day, or week, or month.
Luckily for us, solitude will always be a choice, not an existence.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The Difficult Art of Giving Space in Love: Rilke on Freedom, Togetherness, and the Secret to a Good Marriage – Brain Pickings”

“Love one another but make not a bond of love: let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls,” the great Lebanese-American poet, philosopher, and painter counseled in what remains the finest advice on the secret to a loving and lasting relationship.
In a letter to the 19-year-old cadet and budding poet Franz Xaver Kappus, Rainer Maria Rilke offered some spectacular advice on managing the bipolar pull of autonomy and togetherness in a way that assures the longevity of any close bond and protects love from self-destruction.
The passages, originally published in Rilke’s classic Letters to a Young Poet – the record of his six-year correspondence with Kappus, which also gave us Rilke’s timeless wisdom on the lonely patience of creative work, what it takes to be an artist, why we read, and how hardship enlarges us – appear in the wonderful poetry and prose anthology Rilke on Love and Other Difficulties: Translations and Considerations, selected and translated by the scholar and philosopher John Mood.
For, if it lies in the nature of indifference and of the crowd to recognize no solitude, then love and friendship are there for the purpose of continually providing the opportunity for solitude.
Once the realization is accepted that even between the closest human beings infinite distances continue to exist, a wonderful living side by side can grow up, if they succeed in loving the distance between them which makes it possible for each to see the other whole and against a wide sky!
Self-transformation is precisely what life is, and human relationships, which are an extract of life, are the most changeable of all, rising and falling from minute to minute, and lovers are those in whose relationship and contact no one moment resembles another.
For one human being to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks, the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation.
Complement this particular portion of the altogether beautiful and healing Rilke on Love and Other Difficulties with Anna Dostoyevskaya on the secret to a happy marriage, Virginia Woolf on what makes love last, and Kahlil Gibran on the courage to weather the uncertainties of love, then revisit Rilke on inspiration and the combinatorial nature of creativity.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The most important skill nobody taught you”

While the book is mostly a mathematician’s case for choosing a life of faith and belief, the more curious thing about it is its clear and lucid ruminations on what it means to be human.
Today, more than ever, Pascal’s message rings true.
Beyond the current talk about privacy and data collection, there is perhaps an even more detrimental side-effect here.
The less comfortable you are with solitude, the more likely it is that you won’t know yourself.
You’ll spend even more time avoiding it to focus elsewhere.
The more the world advances, the more stimulation it will provide as an incentive for us to get outside of our own mind to engage with it.
We are so busy being distracted that we are forgetting to tend to ourselves, which is consequently making us feel more and more alone.
That’s ironic because it’s more important than most of the ones they do.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The Art of Being Alone: May Sarton’s Stunning 1938 Ode to Solitude – Brain Pickings”

“Oh comforting solitude, how favorable thou art to original thought!” wrote the founding father of neuroscience in his advice to young scientists.
The poet Elizabeth Bishop believed that everyone should experience at least one prolonged period of solitude in life.
For in true solitude, as Wendell Berry so memorably observed, “One’s inner voices become audible [and] in consequence, one responds more clearly to other lives” – an intuitive understanding of what psychologists have since found: that “Fertile solitude” is the basic unit of a full and contented life.
In the neutral state of aloneness, the psychoemotional line between solitude and loneliness can be as thin as a razor’s edge and as lacerating to the soul.
How to draw it skillfully in orienting ourselves to the world, exterior and interior, is what poet, novelist, and memoirist May Sarton explores in a beautiful poem she penned ten days after her twenty-sixth birthday, decades before she came to contemplate solitude in stunning prose.
The sky opens over their heads to an infinite hole in space;It is only turning at night to a lover that one learns.
For whom the heart has cried, for whom the frail hand burns)Is swung out in the night alone, so luminous and still,The waking spirit attends, the loving spirit gazes.
Complement with Louise Bourgeois on how solitude enriches creative work, Virginia Woolf on the relationship between loneliness and creativity, and Olivia Laing’s masterwork on the art of being alone, then revisit other readings of beautiful poems of existential radiance: Derek Walcott’s “Love After Love,” Wisława Szymborska’s “Life-While-You-Wait,” Jane Kenyon’s “Having It Out With Melancholy,” and Adrienne Rich’s “Planetarium.”

The orginal article.