100 Covers of Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude
Iconic Covers, from 1967 to Today
Pablo Neruda once called Gabriel García Márquez’s 1967 novel One Hundred Years of Solitude “perhaps the greatest revelation in the Spanish language since the Don Quixote of Cervantes.” Now a beloved classic for millions, and the defining pinnacle of magical realist literature, the novel traces the Buendía family over seven generations spent in their fictional hometown of Macondo—founded in the Colombian rainforest by their patriarch, José Arcadio Buendía—which is reportedly based on Márquez’s own hometown of Aracataca, near the northern coast of Colombia. For a while it is a kind of utopia, though a strange one, but eventually, the encroachment of the outside world destroys everything the Buendías have built. This is a lush, descriptive, and relentlessly irreal novel, and as such, its cover treatments have varied wildly over the years. Below, I’ve selected one hundred different covers used for One Hundred Years of Solitude, published around the world between 1967 and 2018. The only question is: which one is the best?
The very first edition draws directly from one of the book’s earliest images: “When they woke up, with the sun already high in the sky, they were speechless with fascination. Before them, surrounded by ferns and palm trees, white and powdery in the silent morning light, was an enormous Spanish galleon. Tilted slightly to the starboard, it had hanging from its intact masts the dirty rags of its sails in the midst of its rigging, which was adorned with orchids. The hull, covered with an armor of petrified barnacles and soft moss, was firmly fastened into a surface of stones. The whole structure seemed to occupy its own space, one of solitude and oblivion, protected from the vices of time and the habits of the birds. Inside, where the expeditionaries explored with careful intent, there was nothing but a thick forest of flowers.”
García Márquez liked this edition so much he wore it as a hat.
This Norwegian edition has the dream-scape feel down—particularly José Arcadio Buendía’s dream of a village made from ice-block houses.
First American edition. Beautiful, magical, and lush, like the novel; the more you look at it, the more details you notice: the birds, the snake, the fairy, the ferns, that galleon again.
A rendering, perhaps, of the gypsy Melquíades: “That prodigious creature, said to possess the keys of Nostradamus, was a gloomy man, enveloped in a sad aura, with an Asiatic look that seemed to know what there was on the other side of things. He wore a large black hat that looked like a raven with widespread wings, and a velvet vest across which the patina of the centuries had skated.”
Talk about the heat of the jungle.
I can’t say I understand this one—the policemen armed with wooden clubs?—but I find it deeply appealing, both in terms of design and color combination.
A clever representation of the novel’s obsession with time, ghosts, love both familial and romantic, and the endless repetition of history.
That is one large foot.
“Aureliano, who could not have been more than five at the time, would remember him for the rest of his life as he saw him that afternoon, sitting against the metallic and quivering light from the window, lighting up with his deep organ voice the darkest reaches of the imagination. . .”
What new gypsy invention is this?
That galleon again—but something about this Italian cover makes me think more of J. G. Ballard than García Márquez.
“‘Those kids are out of their heads,’ Úrsula said. ‘They must have worms.'”
Melquíades again, in his raven hat.
There’s nothing more daring and alluring (in book cover design, anyway) than leaving the title and author off completely and treating the cover like unfettered art.
I admit I have no idea what is going on here, but at least the birds are still alive—for now.
I’m not sure which painting this is sourced from, but to me it doesn’t exactly strike the right note.
Perhaps one of these hidden creatures is in fact Aureliano Segundo, dressed up as a tiger?
About the closest to a normal-looking family portrait this lot is likely to get.
Your face here.
A winged soldier riding a tail-less horse made of the universe over guns and hearts and flowers. This seems about right.
“‘A person can’t go on in neglect like this,’ she said. ‘If we go on like this we’ll be devoured by animals.'”
A family both ghost and not.
How long can one be tied to a chestnut tree before one actually becomes a tree oneself?
The bowler seems very incongruous here.
A lovely vision of Macondo.
“At that time Macondo was a village of twenty adobe houses, built on the bank of a river of clear water that ran along a bed of polished stones, which were white and enormous, like prehistoric eggs. The world was so recent that many things lacked names, and in order to indicate them it was necessary to point.”
It’s a little bit like how I imagine the entrance to Wakanda: a break in the landscape so slim you might miss it—but if you don’t, there’s a world of magic on the other side.
This painting is Diego Rivera’s “The Flower Seller” (1942).
This looks like an ancient Roman text and makes no sense for this book, but I still find it pretty compelling.
A tree or a continent (or both)?
Another image that makes no sense for this novel, but is weird enough on its own that I can’t help but kind of like it.
Those river eggs again—plus a little mini green Gabo surveying the scene.
“He tried to seduce her with the charm of his fantasy, with the promise of a prodigious world where all one had to do was sprinkle some magic liquid on the ground and the plants would bear fruit whenever a man wished, and where all manner of instruments against pain were sold at bargain prices.”
“Then the wind began, warm, incipient, full of voices from the past, the murmurs of ancient geraniums, sighs of disenchantment that preceded the most tenacious nostalgia.”
Another living tree—Tolkien would be proud.
The yellow works—the teal is kind of a stretch.
“It was then that she realized that the yellow butterflies preceded the appearances of Mauricio Babilonia. She had seen them before, especially over the garage, and she had thought that they were drawn by the smell of paint. Once she had seen them fluttering about her head before she went into the movies. But when Mauricio Babilonia began to pursue her like a ghost that only she could identify in the crowd, she understood that the butterflies had something to do with him. Mauricio Babilonia was always in the audience at the concerts, at the movies, at high mass, and she did not have to see him to know that he was there, because the butterflies were always there.”
Very pretty—and perhaps slightly too delicate for the subject at hand.
There he is.
A very surrealist interpretation of a family gathering.
I don’t know what these little red-faced creatures are, but they seem right at home.
An image reused from a previous year—this time you can better see the skull.
A verdant jungle scene.
I like this weird and oversaturated take on jungle life—including the half lemon and plantain (I think) balanced so delicately on the railing.
Or do I dream? Or have I dreamed till now?
Again with the boat; this time sinking into a blood-read sea; this time with a ghostly face.
I love this depiction of the land as a living creature—and not just living, but with very shapely legs.
Perhaps the sexiest of all the One Hundred Years of Solitude covers. Because of the monkey, obviously.
Sure: a horse with hair like a girl’s and a tower growing out of its head.
Can double as an outdated bathroom sign.
“He soon acquired the forlorn look that one sees in vegetarians.”
“Gaston was not only a fierce lover, with endless wisdom and imagination, but he was also, perhaps, the first man in the history of the species who had made an emergency landing and had come close to killing himself and his sweetheart simply to make love in a field of violets.”
“In a short time he filled not only his own house but all of those in the village with troupials, canaries, bee eaters, and redbreasts. The concert of so many different birds became so disturbing the Úrsula would plug her ears with beeswax so as not to lose her sense of reality. The first time that Meliquíades’ tribe arrived, selling glass balls for headaches, everyone was surprised that they had been able to find that village lost int he drowsiness of the swamp, and the gypsies confessed that they had found their way by the song of the birds.”
This is the edition I’m most used to seeing—a slightly altered version of the first American edition.
It is a testament to my vast ignorance about South American iconography that I’m now thinking about Legends of the Hidden Temple.
Is that a yeti?
What is she running from?
Generations and generations and Aureliano’s little gold fishes.
Yellow butterflies are such a strong presence in this novel that mourners left paper versions outside García Márquez’s house when he died, and later at his memorial. I don’r remember a woman turning into one, but I wouldn’t put it past any of them.
“First they brought the magnet.”
Your standard jungle-esque art.
After all, this is a novel in which levitation can be achieved by means of hot chocolate.
Almost like a hand-painted door—the colors of houses being rather a touchy subject in Macondo. “We fought all those wars and all of it just so that we didn’t have to paint our houses blue.”
I think that crow is a lawyer.
A very pretty box cover from the Folio Society—the hardcover inside is black with the two central figures above embossed in gold.
A classroom staple.
Perhaps too minimalist to be meaningful.
A leaf for every member of the family.
How did I miss the spaceships in this novel?
Macaws make great trading capital—but subpar dinner material.
A celebratory flourish of a cover.
A very convincing jungle scene—particularly that human-shaped stigma.
Well, there are baths taken in this novel.
Putting the numbers first.
There’s nothing like an artfully placed lotus flower.
A pretty shell pattern.
Girl with macaw.
Another one that looks like SF to me. What’s that coming down from the sky?
Somehow this colorful cutout gets the gist.
Another cover that plays on the theme of many connected or interlocking faces.
I shudder at the memory of those enormous red ants—it looks like one of them has escaped this book and is crawling across the cover towards your hand.
A very alluring entrance to a secret and magical world.
Another book cover playing on the tree theme.
But here’s an entirely different kind of tree.
The striations of the sun seem to get a little dirty down there at the bottom of the image.
I hear the gypsies have a trained monkey who can read minds.
A fair warning: in some towns, if you speak too much Latin, you’ll soon find yourself tied to a tree.
More red ants! And houses that are mere decorations for the vines.
“I don’t care if I have piglets as long as they can talk.”
Another pretty botanical treatment.
Macondo is a place overrun with birds—though they are not always as alive as they seem here.
There’s that yellow butterfly.
To be honest, this looks more like a moor than a rainforest.
One bird to represent many.
The eyes have it (or maybe they have the eyes).
More like a floating mountain village than a sweltering jungle one, but still a pretty treatment.
Maybe it’s just the glitter, but that looks like magic to me.