Free will in puppets
A warning at the top: this post is trying to tie together a couple of disparate strands of thought, and is going to read like a rough draft. I may rewrite it later.
I am finding it hard to praise or condemn any of the characters in Of Love and Other Demons, though their actions and thoughts are certainly ones I can find worthy of praise or condemnation. What I mean to get at here: this novel is written from a fatalistic viewpoint. The characters are acting without free will, because they have to perform their parts.
This sounds (when I read it) like a criticism of the novel -- like I am saying García Márquez cannot draw characters who I believe to be "fully human," since "fully human" includes "possessed of free will" -- characters who unchoosingly act out parts written for them, are puppets. That is not my intention however. The characters do read as fully human individuals, people I can sympathize with, can imagine myself as being. The Bishop's insistence that Sierva María is possessed -- based on acta written up by the Abbess which he knows to be worthless, and in the face of Father Cayetano Delaura's affirmation that she is sane -- is completely inexplicable to me except as malevolence; but instead of trying to explain it and calling it malevolent, I find that I'm accepting it as the way the world is in this book.
I'm wondering how strongly tied in this is to the sensual quality of García Márquez' prose that I identified earlier. Another author whose writing I would characterize as sensual is William Faulkner, and I do remember a similar feeling of fatalism in reading his novels. I don't want to go too far with this though because it can make me feel like a poseur -- I'm not a critic, my understanding of literary style is guesswork cobbled together with stray bits of memory -- and I've gotten the sense that using Faulkner as a point of comparison is easy and meaningless without further explication.