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308 Western American Literature Death of the Laird’s Jock,” that according to Conquest, “inspired the whole thing.” Back in the summer of 1831, Scott sent a letter to a magazine editor on the “ancient and undisputed axiom:” sicut pictura poesis. Generally speaking, said Sir Walter, the painter isn’t able to duplicate the work of the poet because “the single now is all he can present.” Where the poet can use detailed description and analysis, the painter is commonly limited to “one strong moment of agonizing passion,” something that the viewer can understand and sympathize with “at a single glance.” To illustrate what he meant by such a moment, Scott told, with evident relish, the story of John Armstrong, a redoubtable clansman in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. He was known throughout the border region as “The Laird’s Jock”—that is, the boy named Jack or Jock who is son to the leader of the clan. When Jock succeeded his father, he came into possession of a huge, two-handed sword, the gift of a border desperado, and distinguished himself by wielding it in many feats of derring-do. In due course, Jock’s only son became the leader of the clan. Although he grew old and feeble, Jock could never bring himself to hand over the great sword to his son. Then came the day when an arrogant English foeman named Foster “had the audacity to send a challenge to the best swordsman in Liddlesdale.” Jock’s son “burn­ ing for chivalrous distinction,” took up the challenge, and old Jock, ready at last to entrust the sword to his son, rose up from his sickbed to watch the scrap. But Foster was the victor, young Armstrong was killed, and the aged father gave vent to a great cry of “indignation, horror, and despair,” falling into the arms of his retainers and dying within three days’ time. That moment of the cry of agony, said Sir Walter, was just the kind of subject that a painter could depict, a “single now” guaranteed to rend the hearts of all viewers. In Ned Conquest’s version, the scene shifts from the Scottish border to the western American frontier. In place of the Laird’s Jock stands Granite Hendley, and the two-handed sword has become a Colt pistol. The role of the English champion is played by a tough gun-slinger named Lafe Colber, who likewise wins in single combat with Hendley’s stripling son. Whether or not Dr. Conquest meant to thumb his nose at the furry ghost of Mark Twain, The Gun and Glory of Granite Hendley must have been fun to write. And with or without a knowledge of its Scottish background, it is certainly fun to read. C a rlo s B aker, Princeton University One Hundred Years of Solitude. By Gabriel García Márquez. Translated from the Spanish by Gregory Rabassa. (New York and Evanston: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1970. 422 pages, $7.95.) First published in Spanish in 1967, this novel has received wide literary acclaim in Europe and has been a runaway best seller throughout Latin Reviews 309 America for more than three years. Gabriel García Márquez of Colombia, one of the continent’s most outstanding contemporary writers, has published five books of prose fiction, all of which depict various aspects of life in the town of Macondo, a fictitious designation of the author’s native Aracataca located in Colombia’s Atlantic coastal region. One Hundred Years of Solitude relates in lineal form the founding of the town by José Arcadio Buendia and chronicles both realistic and fabulous adventures of several generations of the founder’s descendants. One of the most memorable episodes involves idealistic Colonel Aureliano Buendia’s role in a futile civil war between Liberals and Conservations. After witnessing years of bitter fighting, the disillusioned warrior returns home to spend the rest of his life in solitude dedicated solely to the sterile occupation of fabricating ornamental gold fish. Each of his seventeen illegitimate sons inherits his solitary air which reappears in at least one member of every succeeding generation. The story ends with the tempestuous love affair between the only...


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pp. 308-309
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