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Literature / The Autumn of the Patriarch

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The Autumn of the Patriarch is a 1975 novel by Gabriel García Márquez (of One Hundred Years of Solitude fame) about the life of a ruthless dictator in an unnamed Caribbean country. The book is written in a long, drawn-out way, exposing the thoughts of the dictator, in what has been called a poem on prose, where it’s stated that even the powerfuls are Lonely at the Top.

This book provides examples of:

  • Ax-Crazy: Curiously, not the dictator, who’s stated to have only killed one person by is own hand; but José Ignacio Saenz de la Barra, who regularly sends him the heads of opponents.
  • Banana Republic
  • Bathroom Stall Graffiti: At the end, they become the only contact with reality the dictator has.
  • Big Fancy House: The dictator’s residence.
  • Bishōnen: José Ignacio Saenz de la Barra.
  • Body Double: Patricio Aragonés. The dictator pardons his life because Aragonés can impersonate him in public.
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  • Cold-Blooded Torture: José Ignacio Saenz de la Barra’s favorite method.
  • Crapsack World
  • Dark Mistress: Leticia Nazareno, who’s curiously a nun. The dictator kidnaps and marries her and she gives him a son. After that, she starts enjoying all the spoils of her sweet new life, at least until the people get tired of her.
  • Elderly Immortal: The dictator.
  • Eternal Recurrence: Part of the novel's approach is that some events tend to repeat themselves in one way or another.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: And yet, most of them don’t make her a saint after her death.
  • Foregone Conclusion: The dictator dies. The first few pages tell you this. However, they also tell you that he died for the second time.
  • The Generalissimo
  • League of Nations: They appear in the story, as useless as ever.
  • Lonely at the Top
  • Magic Realism: The only thing that explains that a dictator has more than 2,000 years or that the Americans can take away the ocean just like that. After all, it’s Márquez we’re talking about here.
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  • Nasty Party
  • No Name Given: The dictator.
  • An Odd Place to Sleep: The dictator sleeps on the floor, using his hand as a pillow.
  • The Other Darrin: An odd literaly example. Every time the U.S. ambassador is mentioned, he has a different name. However, there doesn’t seem to be another difference.
  • Platonic Cave: One character worries about what will happen if the dictator is no more, because since he has been in power more than a hundred years, they don’t know anything else about the real life.
  • Psycho for Hire: José Ignacio Saenz de la Barra.
  • Reality Warper: The dictator has such power that when he orders the time of day changed from 3 to 8 in the morning, the roses open two hours before dew time.
  • Semper Fi: The U.S. Marines helped the dictator take power, and their ship docked on the bay gives the first part of the book an ominous feeling (yeah, they’re a bunch of Jerkasses here).
  • Shadow Dictator: The dictator. Contrary to the usual examples of this trope, however, we know he exists because... well, he's the main character.
  • The Starscream: General Rodrigo de Aguilar.
  • Wall of Text
  • Wanton Cruelty to the Common Comma: The book is written as a flowing tract, with a lot of commas but very few periods. As a consecuence of that, all the dialogues are included in among the many commas.