One of the most wonderful features of the modern era is that travel and the Internet have made the best the world has to offer accessible to vast numbers of people. In a few months, I will be leading my second trip for Classical Pursuits — this time to a land whose reality as one of the great corners of the planet: Colombia, a gem of South America. For many readers, Colombia is the home of Gabriel García Márquez, unquestionably one of the greatest writers of the 20th century and an icon of “magical realism” (along with Salman Rushdie, Italo Calvino and Franz Kafka, among others). Indeed, Colombia’s current official tourism campaign is entitled “Colombia is Magical Realism.”
But while it is true that one cannot fully understand Colombia without understanding Márquez, Colombia is in reality “Márquez and More.” And it is for this reason that during our 12-day trip we will be surveying a wide spectrum of Colombian literature (including works by Emilio Rosero and Laura Restrepo in addition to works by Márquez) as we sample Colombia’s magnificent appeal, both natural and man-made, in places such as:
- Bogotá, Colombia’s capital and largest city whose many museums, universities and libraries have earned it the nickname of “the Athens of South America” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M_bEbNGPrAw);
- Medellín, once a hub of the drug trade and now often listed as one of the most livable cities in South America and one of the most innovative in the world (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ju-dbxEo_0); and,
- Cartagena, whose very name ties it first to Cartagena in Spain and then to Carthage in Africa (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uLakro5i3Vc).
Together, the powerful combination of our readings and our ramblings promises to make this trip a rare opportunity for unexpected discovery that I am really looking forward to. If you haven’t yet signed up for the trip, you can register here for one of the few remaining spots.
For those who are looking for an even richer and longer discovery experience, I am pleased to announce that, before and after the trip itself, I will be teaching live, fully interactive, online discussion courses on the works of Gabriel García Márquez that could not be squeezed into the trip itself. Beginning the first week in January, I will be teaching a four-week course on some of Marquez’s important short works. And in April, I will be teaching a four-week course on Marquez’s magnum opus, One Hundred Years of Solitude — a work that really can’t be fully understood without a prior understanding of Colombia.
Both courses are offered by a new online Great Books venture called Great Discourses that has partnered with Classical Pursuits to help literary travelers prepare for, and profit from, their excursions. And both are being offered free of charge to our Classical Pursuits Colombia trip registrants. (Other friends of Classical Pursuits are eligible for a 25% tuition discount on these and other courses.) You can find out more about my online Márquez courses — as well as about the complete range of online Great Books discussion courses offered by my colleagues and myself — at GreatDiscourses.com or by emailing me at Mark-Cwik@GreatDiscourses.com.
I look forward to discovering with you, both in Colombia and online!
– Mark Cwik