The insomnia plague: A Gabriel García Márquez story

A. Sghirlanzoni, F. Carella

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


"All the great writers have good eyes" is a sentence by V. Nabokov that is very suitable for G.G. Márquez and his One Hundred Years of Solitude. The novel, published in 1967, introduces among many others, the character of little Rebeca, whose frailness and greenish skin revealed hunger "that was older than she was". The girl, because of a pica syndrome, only liked to eat earth and the cake of whitewash. But her fate appears to be determined by the lethal insomnia plague, whose most fearsome part was not the impossibility of sleeping but its inexorable evolution toward a loss of memory in which the sick person "sinks into a kind of idiocy that had no past". Rebeca's lethal insomnia looks quite similar to the "peculiar, fatal disorder of sleep" originally described by Lugaresi et al. in 1986. One Hundred Years of Solitude shows that G.G. Márquez was gifted not only with good eyes, but has the seductive power of changing reality into fantasy, while transforming his visions into reality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-253
Number of pages3
JournalNeurological Sciences
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2000


  • Fatal familial insomnia
  • Gabriel García Márquez
  • Insomnia plague
  • Pica
  • Prion disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neuroscience(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'The insomnia plague: A Gabriel García Márquez story'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this