Gabriel García Márquez on the Solitude of Writers and Dictators

AP Photo/Prensa Latina via AP Images/Celso Rodriguez

In the winter of 1981 Peter H. Stone interviewed Gabriel García Márquez for The Paris Review. The interview took place over three afternoons in the studio behind García Márquez’s home in Mexico. Although García Márquez’s English is “quite good,” he spoke mostly in Spanish:

INTERVIEWER

You often use the theme of the solitude of power.

GARCÍA MÁRQUEZ

The more power you have, the harder it is to know who is lying to you and who is not. When you reach absolute power, there is no contact with reality, and that’s the worst kind of solitude there can be. A very powerful person, a dictator, is surrounded by interests and people whose final aim is to isolate him from reality; everything is in concert to isolate him.

INTERVIEWER

What about the solitude of the writer? Is this different?

GARCÍA MÁRQUEZ

It has a lot to do with the solitude of power. The writer’s very attempt to portray reality often leads him to a distorted view of it. In trying to transpose reality he can end up losing contact with it, in an ivory tower, as they say. Journalism is a very good guard against that. That’s why I have always tried to keep on doing journalism, because it keeps me in contact with the real world, particularly political journalism and politics. The solitude that threatened me after One Hundred Years of Solitude wasn’t the solitude of the writer; it was the solitude of fame, which resembles the solitude of power much more. My friends defended me from that one, my friends who are always there.

Read the interview