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CHAPTER I

INTRODUCTION
Mario Vargas Llosa was born in 1936 in Arequipa, Perus second
largest city. During his childhood in Cochabamba, Bolivia, and Piura, a city
in the north of Peru, he believed that his father had died. However, this
was a lie told by his mother to conceal their tortuous separation. The truth
emerged when, in 1946, his father appeared unexpectedly to take him
away from his mothers parents, moving with him and his mother to Lima.
This revelation signified an abrupt change in Vargas Llosas life, from the
pampered upbringing of a feminine environment to the hostile treatment
of an authoritarian father. At his side, he was to discover fear, injustice
and violence for the first time. During these years in which he left his
childhood behind, devouring the works of Dumas and Victor Hugo, the
political climate in Peru was a reflection of Vargas Llosas home life. The
dictator Manuel Odra rose to power in 1948 and over the next eight
years, while Vargas Llosa studied law and literature at the University of
San Marcos, he imposed rigid controls on social life which stifled
individuality, engendering scepticism, defeatism and frustration among
Peruvians. This period later inspired his novel Conversation in the
.Cathedral, published in 1969 (The Nobel Foundation, 2010)
The dominant presence of authoritarianism in both public and
private spheres led Vargas Llosa to strongly condemn systems which, in
one way or another, sought to inhibit individual initiative and restrict
personal freedom. His literary works, starting with The Time of the
Hero (1963) one of the key novels which pioneered the 'Boom' period in
Latin American literature reflect his loathing of arbitrary manifestations
of power and the absence of law which enables the strongest to impose
their will. The inspiration for this novel was the time he spent between
1950 and 1951 in the Leoncio Prado Military Academy, where he was sent
by his father to stifle his literary ambitions through military discipline.

However, Vargas Llosa managed to rebel against his paternal yoke, not
only pursuing a writing career, but also marrying his maternal uncles
sister-in-law Julia Urquidi, who was eleven years older than him and
divorced. He drew on these experiences to write his novel Aunt Julia and
the Scriptwriter, published in 1977.Another fundamental experience in his
life was a journey he made in the Amazon jungle in 1958, which inspired
novels such as The Green House(1966), Captain Pantoja and the Special
.Service (1973), The Storyteller (1987) and The Dream of the Celt (2010)
As opposed to other city dwellers who first came into contact with
the remote jungle landscapes of Peru, which are still inhabited by primitive
indigenous tribes, Vargas Llosa found neither exoticism nor harmony
between humanity and nature but rather despotism, violence and cruelty.
The absence of law and institutions exposed the jungle natives to the
worst humiliations and acts of injustice by colonists, missionaries and
adventurers, who had come to impose their will through the use of terror
and force. What he heard, saw and felt in the jungle convinced Vargas
Llosa that the archaic Peru which survived in the depths of the Amazon
and the peaks of the Andes should be integrated into a modern Peru, the
only Peru which, due to its legal framework, could stop the pillaging and
wrongful acts committed against minorities and the most vulnerable
.sectors of Peruvian society (The Nobel Foundation, 2010)
Until the early seventies, Vargas Llosa perceived in socialism and
the Cuban revolution a series of ideas which embodied modernity and a
solution to the moral vices and economic underdevelopment of Latin
America. However, when the revolution showed signs of having become
an oppressive dictatorship where writers felt their freedom to create was
restricted, Vargas Llosa distanced himself from Fidel Castro and socialism
and began to advocate reformism, liberal pluralism, democracy and the
free market. His changing political inclination brought with it a new way of
understanding Latin American problems. The revolution, the dictatorship,
nationalism, racism and religious mysticism, all of which are present
throughout the course of the republican history of Latin America, now

proved to be symptoms of a deeper problem related to intolerance and


dogmatism. A host of leaders, rebels and saviours had instigated fanatical
attempts to impose a closed view of the world with no concern for the
consequences. This human tendency, which is ever present in Latin
America and the root cause behind innumerable tragedies, provided the
.plot for his novel The War of the End of the World in 1981
In 1987 the attempt by the then president of Peru, Alan Garca, to
nationalise the banking industry was vehemently rejected by Vargas Llosa,
who saw this project as a strategy to accumulate power and place the
media and businesses in government hands. With the support of large
sectors of the population, Vargas Llosa organised protest marches which
catapulted him into the political arena. His Movimiento Libertad, which
opposed Alan Garca, evolved into the Frente Democrtico, three years
later. As the leader of this party he ran in the presidential elections in
1990. However, he lost in the second round to the engineer Alberto
Fujimori, who then shut down congress and established a despotic and
corrupt dictatorship for which he is currently serving a sentence.
Memories of these years can be found in his book of memoirs A Fish in the
Water (1993). Since 1990 Vargas Llosa has published a fortnightly column
in the Spanish daily newspaper El Pas, which is reprinted in different
media sources all over the world. In these, he states his opinion regarding
the most important current political, social and cultural events. He also
teaches literature courses at American universities and writes literary
essays. Although Vargas Llosa began writing plays in the 1980s, it was not
until 2005 that he decided to take to the stage himself to portray his
characters. Aitana Snchez Gijn, the actress who accompanies him in
this new adventure, has described him as a promising young actor (The
.Nobel Foundation, 2010)
Many of Vargas Llosa's works are influenced by the writer's
perception of Peruvian society and his own experiences as a native
Peruvian. Increasingly- however- he has expanded his range, and tackled
themes that arise from other parts of the world. In his essays, Vargas

Llosa has made many criticisms of nationalism in different parts of the


world.Another change over the course of his career has been a shift from
a style and approach associated with literary modernism, to a sometimes
playful postmodernism. Like many Latin American writers, Vargas Llosa
has been politically active throughout his career; over the course of his
life, he has gradually moved from the political left towards liberalism.
While he initially supported the Cuban revolutionary government of Fidel
Castro, Vargas Llosa later became disenchanted with his policies. He ran
for the Peruvian presidency in 1990 with the center-right Frente
Democrtico coalition, advocating classical liberal reforms, but lost the
election to Alberto Fujimori. He is the person who, in 1990, "coined the
phrase that circled the globe" declaring on Mexican television, "Mexico is
the perfect dictatorship", a statement which became an adage during the
following decade. In 1995, he wrote and published a children's book
called, Hitos y Mitos Literarios (English version as "The Milestones and the
Stories of Greatest Literary Works"), which is illustrated by Willi Glasauer,
.and published by Crculo de Lectores (Navarro, Mireya , 2003)
Mario Vargas Llosa was born to a middle-class family on March 28,
1936, in the Peruvian provincial city of Arequipa. He was the only child of
Ernesto Vargas Maldonado and Dora Llosa Ureta (the former a radio
operator in an aviation company, the latter the daughter of an old criollo
family), who separated a few months before his birth. Shortly after Mario's
birth, his father revealed that he was having an affair with a German
woman; consequently, Mario has two younger half-brothers: Enrique and
.,Ernesto Vargas (Morote, Herbert,1998)
Vargas Llosa lived with his maternal family in Arequipa until a year
after his parents' divorce, when his maternal grandfather was named
honorary consul for Peru in Bolivia. With his mother and her family, Vargas
Llosa then moved to Cochabamba, Bolivia, where he spent the early years
of his childhood. His maternal family, the Llosas, were sustained by his
grandfather, who managed a cotton farm. As a child, Vargas Llosa was led
to believe that his father had diedhis mother and her family did not

want to explain that his parents had separated. During the government of
Peruvian President Jos Bustamante y Rivero, Vargas Llosa's maternal
grandfather obtained a diplomatic post in the Peruvian coastal city of
Piura and the entire family returned to Peru. While in Piura, Vargas Llosa
attended elementary school at the religious academy Colegio Salesiano. In
1946, at the age of ten, he moved to Lima and met his father for the first
time. His parents re-established their relationship and lived in Magdalena
del Mar, a middle-class Lima suburb, during his teenage years. While in
Lima, he studied at the Colegio La Salle, a Christian middle school, from
,1947 to 1949 (Williams, Raymond L. , 2001)
When Vargas Llosa was fourteen, his father sent him to the Leoncio
Prado Military Academy in Lima. At the age of 16, before his graduation,
Vargas Llosa began working as an amateur journalist for local newspapers.
He withdrew from the military academy and finished his studies in Piura,
where he worked for the local newspaper, La Industria, and witnessed the
theatrical performance of his first dramatic work, La huida del Inca.In
1953, during the government of Manuel A. Odra, Vargas Llosa enrolled in
Lima's National University of San Marcos, to study law and literature. He
married Julia Urquidi, his maternal uncle's sister-in-law, in 1955 at the age
of 19; she was 10 years older. Vargas Llosa began his literary career in
earnest in 1957 with the publication of his first short stories, "The
Leaders" ("Los jefes") and "The Grandfather" ("El abuelo"), while working
for two Peruvian newspapers. Upon his graduation from the National
University of San Marcos in 1958, he received a scholarship to study at the
Complutense University of Madrid in Spain.[24] In 1960, after his
scholarship in Madrid had expired, Vargas Llosa moved to France under
the impression that he would receive a scholarship to study there;
however, upon arriving in Paris, he learned that his scholarship request
was denied. Despite Mario and Julia's unexpected financial status, the
couple decided to remain in Paris where he began to write prolifically.
Their marriage lasted only a few more years, ending in divorce in 1964. A
year later, Vargas Llosa married his first cousin, Patricia Llosa, with whom

he had three children: lvaro Vargas Llosa (born 1966), a writer and
editor; Gonzalo (born 1967), a businessman; and Morgana (born 1974), a
photographer. As of 2015, he is in a relationship with Filipina Spanish
socialite and TV personality Isabel Preysler and seeking a divorce from
.Patricia Llosa (MBEL GALAZ, 2015)
Vargas Llosa's first novel, The Time of the Hero (La ciudad y los
perros), was published in 1963. The book is set among a community of
cadets in a Lima military school, and the plot is based on the author's own
experiences at Lima's Leoncio Prado Military Academy. This early piece
gained wide public attention and immediate success. Its vitality and adept
use of sophisticated literary techniques immediately impressed critics,
and it won the Premio de la Crtica Espaola award. Nevertheless, its
sharp criticism of the Peruvian military establishment led to controversy in
Peru. Several Peruvian generals attacked the novel, claiming that it was
the work of a "degenerate mind" and stating that Vargas Llosa was "paid
by Ecuador" to undermine the prestige of the Peruvian Army (Cevallos ,
.1991)
In 1965, Vargas Llosa published his second novel, The Green House
(La casa verde), about a brothel called "The Green House" and how its
quasi-mythical presence affects the lives of the characters. The main plot
follows Bonifacia, a girl who is about to receive the vows of the church,
and her transformation into la Selvatica, the best-known prostitute of "The
Green House". The novel was immediately acclaimed, confirming Vargas
Llosa as an important voice of Latin American narrative. The Green House
won the first edition of the Rmulo Gallegos International Novel Prize in
1967, contending with works by veteran Uruguayan writer Juan Carlos
Onetti and by Gabriel Garca Mrquez.[ This novel alone accumulated
enough awards to place the author among the leading figures of the Latin
American Boom. Some critics still consider The Green House to be Vargas
Llosa's finest and most important achievement. Indeed, Latin American
literary critic Gerald Martin suggests that The Green House is "one of the

greatest novels to have emerged from Latin America"( Armas Marcelo,


.2002)
Vargas

Llosa's

third

novel,

Conversation

in

the

Cathedral

(Conversacin en la catedral), was published in 1969, when he was 33.


This ambitious narrative is the story of Santiago Zavala, the son of a
government minister, and Ambrosio, his chauffeur. A random meeting at a
dog pound leads the pair to a riveting conversation at a nearby bar known
as "The Cathedral". During the encounter, Zavala searches for the truth
about his father's role in the murder of a notorious Peruvian underworld
figure, shedding light on the workings of a dictatorship along the way.
Unfortunately for Zavala, his quest results in a dead end with no answers
and no sign of a better future. The novel attacks the dictatorial
government of Odra by showing how a dictatorship controls and destroys
lives. The persistent theme of hopelessness makes Conversation in the
Cathedral Vargas Llosa's most bitter novel. He lectured Spanish American
Literature at King's College London from 1969 to 1970 (Castro-Klarn,
,Sara, 1990)
Vargas Llosa's style encompasses historical material as well as his
own personal experiences. For example, in his first novel, The Time of the
Hero, his own experiences at the Leoncio Prado military school informed
his depiction of the corrupt social institution which mocked the moral
standards it was supposed to uphold. Furthermore, the corruption of the
book's school is a reflection of the corruption of Peruvian society at the
time the novel was written. Vargas Llosa frequently uses his writing to
challenge the inadequacies of society, such as demoralization and
oppression by those in political power towards those who challenge this
power. One of the main themes he has explored in his writing is the
individual's struggle for freedom within an oppressive reality. For example,
his two-volume novel Conversation in the Cathedral is based on the
tyrannical dictatorship of Peruvian President Manuel A. Odra. The
protagonist, Santiago, rebels against the suffocating dictatorship by
participating in the subversive activities of leftist political groups. In

addition to themes such as corruption and oppression, Vargas Llosa's


second novel, The Green House, explores "a denunciation of Peru's basic
institutions", dealing with issues of abuse and exploitation of the workers
.in the brothel by corrupt military officers (Booker, M. Keith, 1994)
Many of Vargas Llosa's earlier novels were set in Peru, while in more
recent work he has expanded to other regions of Latin America, such as
Brazil and the Dominican Republic. His responsibilities as a writer and
lecturer have allowed him to travel frequently and led to settings for his
novels in regions outside of Peru. The War of the End of the World was his
first major work set outside Peru. Though the plot deals with historical
events of the Canudos revolt against the Brazilian government, the novel
is not based directly on historical fact; rather, its main inspiration is the
non-fiction account of those events published by Brazilian writer Euclides
da Cunha in 1902. The Feast of the Goat, based on the dictatorship of
Rafael Trujillo, takes place in the Dominican Republic; in preparation for
this novel, Vargas Llosa undertook a comprehensive study of Dominican
history. The novel was characteristically realist, and Vargas Llosa
underscores

that

he

"respected

the

basic

facts,

...

have

not

exaggerated", but at the same time he points out "It's a novel, not a
".history book, so I took many, many liberties (Gussow, Mel., 2002)
One of Vargas Llosa's more recent novels, The Way to Paradise (El
paraso en la otra esquina), is set largely in France and Tahiti. Based on
the biography of former social reformer Flora Tristan, it demonstrates how
Flora and Paul Gauguin were unable to find paradise, but were still able to
inspire followers to keep working towards a socialist utopia. Unfortunately,
Vargas Llosa was not as successful in transforming these historical figures
into fiction. Some critics, such as Barbara Mujica, argue that The Way to
Paradise lacks the "audacity, energy, political vision, and narrative genius"
.that was present in his previous works (Mujica, Barbara, 2004)
The works of Mario Vargas Llosa are viewed as both modernist and
postmodernist novels. Though there is still much debate over the

differences between modernist and postmodernist literature, literary


scholar M. Keith Booker claims that the difficulty and technical complexity
of Vargas Llosa's early works, such as The Green House and Conversation
in the Cathedral, are clearly elements of the modern novel. Furthermore,
these earlier novels all carry a certain seriousness of attitudeanother
important defining aspect of modernist art. By contrast, his later novels
such as Captain Pantoja and the Special Service, Aunt Julia and the
Scriptwriter, The Real Life of Alejandro Mayta, and The Storyteller (El
hablador) appear to follow a postmodernist mode of writing. These novels
have a much lighter, farcical, and comic tone, characteristics of
postmodernism. Comparing two of Vargas Llosa's novels, The Green House
and Captain Pantoja and the Special Service, Booker discusses the
contrast between modernism and postmodernism found in the writer's
works: while both novels explore the theme of prostitution as well as the
workings of the Peruvian military, Booker points out that the former is
gravely serious whereas the latter is ridiculously comic (Booker, M. Keith,

.1994)
Vargas Llosa's first literary influences were relatively obscure
Peruvian writers such as Martn Adn, Carlos Oquendo de Amat, and Csar
Moro.] As a young writer, he looked to these revolutionary novelists in
search of new narrative structures and techniques in order to delineate a
more contemporary, multifaceted experience of urban Peru. He was
looking for a style different from the traditional descriptions of land and
rural life made famous by Peru's foremost novelist at the time, Jos Mara
Arguedas. Vargas Llosa wrote of Arguedas's work that it was "an example
of old-fashioned regionalism that had already exhausted its imaginary
possibilities". Although he did not share Arguedas's passion for indigenous
reality, Vargas Llosa admired and respected the novelist for his
contributions to Peruvian literature. Indeed, he has published a book.length study on his work, La utopa arcaica (1996) (Kristal, Efran (1998)
Rather than restrict himself to Peruvian literature, Vargas Llosa also
looked abroad for literary inspiration. Two French figures, existentialist

Jean-Paul Sartre and novelist Gustave Flaubert, influenced both his


technique and style. Sartre's influence is most prevalent in Vargas Llosa's
extensive use of conversation. The epigraph of The Time of the Hero, his
first novel, is also taken directly from Sartre's work. Flaubert's artistic
independence his novels' disregard of reality and moralshas always
been admired by Vargas Llosa, who wrote a book-length study of
Flaubert's aesthetics, The Perpetual Orgy. In his analysis of Flaubert,
Vargas Llosa questions the revolutionary power of literature in a political
setting; this is in contrast to his earlier view that "literature is an act of
rebellion", thus marking a transition in Vargas Llosa's aesthetic beliefs.
Other critics such as Sabine Kllmann argue that his belief in the
transforming power of literature is one of the great continuities that
characterize his fictional and non-fictional work, and link his early
statement that 'Literature is Fire' with his Nobel Prize Speech 'In Praise of
.Reading and Writing' (Sabine Kllmann, 2014)
One of Vargas Llosa's favourite novelists, and arguably the most
influential on his writing career, is the American William Faulkner. Vargas
Llosa considers Faulkner "the writer who perfected the methods of the
modern novel". Both writers' styles include intricate changes in time and
narration. In The Time of the Hero, for example, aspects of Vargas Llosa's
plot, his main character's development and his use of narrative time are
influenced by his favourite Faulkner novel, Light in August.In addition to
the studies of Arguedas and Flaubert, Vargas Llosa has written literary
criticisms of other authors that he has admired, such as Gabriel Garca
Mrquez, Albert Camus, Ernest Hemingway, and Jean-Paul Sartre. The
main goals of his non-fiction works are to acknowledge the influence of
these authors on his writing, and to recognize a connection between
himself and the other writers;

critic Sara Castro-Klarn argues that he

offers little systematic analysis of these authors' literary techniques. In


The Perpetual Orgy, for example, he discusses the relationship between
his own aesthetics and Flaubert's, rather than focusing on Flaubert's alone
.(Castro-Klarn, Sara, 1990)

Mario Vargas Llosa is considered a major Latin American writer,


alongside other authors such as Octavio Paz, Julio Cortzar, Jorge Luis
Borges, Gabriel Garca Mrquez and Carlos Fuentes. In his book The New
Novel in Latin America (La Nueva Novela), Fuentes offers an in-depth
literary criticism of the positive influence Vargas Llosa's work has had on
Latin American literature. Indeed, for the literary critic Gerald Martin,
writing in 1987, Vargas Llosa was "perhaps the most successful ...
certainly the most controversial Latin American novelist of the past
twenty-five years". Most of Vargas Llosa's narratives have been translated
into multiple languages, marking his international critical success. Vargas
Llosa is also noted for his substantial contribution to journalism, an
accomplishment characteristic of few other Latin American writers. He is
recognized among those who have most consciously promoted literature
in general, and more specifically the novel itself, as avenues for
meaningful commentary about life. During his career, he has written more
than a dozen novels and many other books and stories, and, for decades,
he has been a voice for Latin American literature (Dickinson College,
2008).
Marie Arana, the Peruvian-born former editor of the Washington
Posts Book World, writes a thoughtful and moving analysis of Mario
Vargas Llosas work that has just been awarded a Nobel Prize. She
explores at some length Vargas Llosas political views and whether they
might have prevented him from winning the prize much earlier. But
theres one word that curiously doesnt appear in her article. Curious,
because its a very common word, the word that describes his political
philosophy, a word that he himself uses frequently. You may want to read
the article and see if you can find the missing word before reading further
.here (David Boaz, 2010)
:Arana writes

When asked by an editor several years ago why the prize had
eluded him, he replied with a wry smile that he was hardly the politically

.correct choice

According to the Nobel committee, he has won the award for his "
cartography of structures of power and his trenchant images of the

.individuals resistance, revolt, and defeat

For years, the gossip was that Stockholm would never recognize "
him because his politics were conservative, though many of his positions

.on gay rights, for example have been to the left of center

For all his bracing work decrying totalitarian strongmen, Vargas "
Llosa is no radical revolutionary. He has been described as an intransigent
neoliberal, a man with unshakable convictions that his country and people
need strict economic discipline, membership in the world market and

.tough austerity measures at home


.Whats the missing word? Give the article one more read
Heres the missing word: Mario Vargas Llosa is a liberal. This is not
hard to determine. The Encyclopedia Britannica defines liberalism as the
political and economic doctrine that emphasizes the rights and freedoms
of the individual and the need to limit the powers of government. That
.seems to cover all the details Arana laid out
And Vargas Llosa himself has made his liberalism clear. When he
received the annual award of the American Enterprise Institute, his lecture
was Confessions of a Liberal. He may have created some discomfort in
:the largely conservative audience when he said
Because liberalism is not an ideology, that is, a dogmatic lay "
religion, but rather an open, evolving doctrine that yields to reality
instead of trying to force reality to do the yielding, there are diverse
tendencies and profound discrepancies among liberals. With regard to

religion, gay marriage, abortion and such, liberals like me, who are
agnostics as well as supporters of the separation between church and
state and defenders of the decriminalization of abortion and gay
marriage, are sometimes harshly criticized by other liberals who have

."opposite views on these issues


Indeed, AEI left this part out in their own excerpting of the speech
:yesterday. But he got them back as he went on
The free market is the best mechanism in existence for producing
riches and, if well complemented with other institutions and uses of
democratic culture, launches the material progress of a nation to the

.spectacular heights with which we are familiar

Thus, the liberal I aspire to be considers freedom a core value.


Thanks to this freedom, humanity has been able to journey from the
primitive cave to the stars and the information revolution, to progress
from forms of collectivist and despotic association to representative
democracy. The foundations of liberty are private property and the rule of
law; this system guarantees the fewest possible forms of injustice,
produces the greatest material and cultural progress, most effectively
stems violence and provides the greatest respect for human rights.
According to this concept of liberalism, freedom is a single, unified
concept. Political and economic liberties are as inseparable as the two

.sides of a medal

We dream, as novelists tend to do: a world stripped of fanatics,


terrorists and dictators, a world of different cultures, races, creeds and
traditions, co-existing in peace thanks to the culture of freedom, in which
borders have become bridges that men and women can cross in pursuit of

.their goals with no other obstacle than their supreme free will
Then it will not be necessary to talk about freedom because it will
be the air that we breathe and because we will all truly be free. Ludwig

von Mises ideal of a universal culture infused with respect for the law and

.human rights will have become a reality


Arana did mention that Vargas Llosa has been called a neoliberal,
whatever that is. In his essay Liberalism in the New Millennium, in
Global Fortune: The Stumble and Rise of World Capitalism (and reprinted
in Catos anthology Toward Liberty), Vargas Llosa had some fun with the
.scare word neoliberalism
Wikipedia stumbles a bit, as well, variously describing his views as
liberal, neoliberal, or classical liberal. Can you be both classically and neo
liberal? It does mention his break with the Peoples Party of Spain over its
illiberal conservative views. A story the New York Times must have missed
.this week in describing him as a conservative
Of course, Vargas Llosas political views against authoritarianism
of any stripe, support for free markets, social tolerance, peace, the rule of
law, and democratic governance might best be described these days as
libertarian. But thats not a word that Vargas Llosa, a man of Latin America
and Europe, seems to use. So for now lets allow the great writer to
describe his own views: Mario Vargas Llosa is a liberal, one of the great
.liberals of our age
As for his literary standing, Ill return to Marie Arana for the last
:word
Too often, a Nobel morning has a literary critic running for cover or,
at the very least, for Google, to learn exactly who, in the capricious eyes
of the Swedish Academy, has merited the coveted award. Not so on
Thursday. The 2010 Nobel Prize in Literature has gone to a writer whose
name is well known to and widely venerated by the global literary
community: the deeply intellectual, undeniably talented Peruvian novelist

.Mario Vargas Llosa

But perhaps the most winning aspect of Vargas Llosas career is his
deep and abiding humanity. Generous in friendship, unfailingly curious
about the world at large, tireless in his quest to probe the nature of the
human animal, he is a model writer for our times. It is such a pleasure for
me to write at last: This year, the Nobel Prize in Literature goes to an

.indisputable winner (David Boaz, 2010)


Mario Vargas Llosas statement literature is fire provides both
an insight into his views regarding the potent weight he feels literature
may carry and also the effect that words can exert over him and, although
the Peruvian writers political beliefs have shifted to the beat of Churchills
epigram since he was the youngest of the big four comprising Latin
Americas boom period, his love of writing has never wavered. Growing up
in a state of restricted civil liberties and a student under the corrupt tyrant
Manuel A. Odria at a time when all student activities were observed on,
the regime unsurprisingly rendered Llosas character to be extremely
politically oriented from an early age. Additionally, while the boom period
in

South

American

literatures

most

significant

contribution

to

contemporary literature may be magical realism, Llosas work has


consistently featured a strident realism and critique of political extremity
that resulted in 1000 copies of his first work, The Time of the Hero,
being burnt by Peruvian generals who thought it the work of a depraved
mind on the bank roll of sadistic Ecuadorians. Like much of Llosas work,
the structure and use of shifting narratives challenged what the novel was
capable of delivering and while Llosa aligned himself to the left,
supporting the ascendancy of Castros Cuba at the time, many critics
believe his novels lost some of their magic once his disillusionment with
Castros increasingly authoritarian stance and tendency to banish
homosexuals from the country in order to cure them, resulted ultimately
in his abandonment of socialism(Andrew Wiles, 2010).
It is the 1960s then that many consider to be Llosas best period,
when he was simultaneously at its most politically critical and, as some
critics assert, of less obvious entertainment value than more recent works

such as The Bad Girl a reworking of Flauberts A Sentimental


Education. Llosa is quick to disparage those who present his canon since
the 80s as being more flippant in tone and although he acknowledges his
narrative has shifted often, he doubts he has ever ceased to produce work
of contemporary value or that literature need deal with in order to present
relevant commentary on the human character or its politics. Llosa like
Salman Rushdie, believes the writer has a social obligation to name the
unnameable, to start arguments, take sides and stop the world from going
to sleep. Society will always need writers and especially writers prepared
to offer commentary on political regimes, of which Latin America has too
often served as stage for the past 100 years. It is perhaps unsurprising
then that Llosa, as well as his literary accolades, has a formidable and
varied canon of journalism. This carries with it numerous challenges. Chief
amongst these is his fear it will become entertainment, merely to allow its
writers to survive, a comment suggesting he has little faith in the
populaces current ability to take the time to digest worthwhile but
lengthy works when temporary diversions exist. The objective of
journalism Llosa asserts, is to provide true information to a country, a
value with which he generally also treats his novels, while also recognising
the main difference between novels and journalism is that journalism is
limited by the real world. While that may be the case, his realistic
treatment of the world in the majority of his work may reflect his feeling
that he is best able to comment meaningfully on the world and Peru in
particular via this channel(Andrew Wiles, 2010).
There is always going to be a dichotomy of interest between the arts
(in this case writing) and political activity. Llosa himself recognises there is
an incompatibility between writing and political activity with his book A
Fish in the Water, acting as a perfect example. The book, half of which
details his presidential attempts, was better received than many of his
policies during the time of his presidential campaign. Although a political
character and former activist he is however primarily a writer and this
need be recognised before criticism, lest it should be rendered obsolete.

Countries need politicians that have no interests separate from politics,


though whether it wants them is quite separate and liable to be dictated
by the state of the economy and current statistics from Peru report half its
population live in poverty. Similarly, while struggle often is political,
pleasure is not and since being recognised as a writer of great significance
in the 60s his appointments and invitations to various educational
faculties were invariably as a writer and granted a freedom and style of
living assuredly alien to the majority of Peruvians. Affluence of any kind
affords one an indulgence in politics as opposed to an essential need for a
system to improve because otherwise a countries citizens die and this was
perhaps never clearer than in his campaign for Presidency with the
rightwing coalition FREDMO in 1990 whose failure can be partly attributed
to proposed tax increases on the poor, partly to Llosas reluctance as
candidate (he frequently stated during the campaign to be running from a
sense of obligation rather than desire) and a political naivety (Andrew
Wiles, 2010)..
Since relinquishing any participatory function in politics, he has
made it clear that he has little confidence in the ability of the human
character to resist the monstrous effects he believes politics exerts on
people regardless of the goodness of their ideologies, which in turn
extends to his belief that all democracies are exceedingly fragile since
they are mirrors of the human character. Llosa now spends approximately
3 months a year in Peru; a decision which merits criticism from those who
regard it as a political betrayal and the rest of the time between London
and Spain where he has properties. Living where he chooses however is
his prerogative as a successful, and now old, man who would possibly
argue that revolutions are a youthful occupation and as a young and
middle aged man were indeed his to a degree. The political criticism of
Llosa is one that has become increasingly prevalent in Peru since the
1990s and what is viewed as, despite his contra wise assertions, a slide
further right in politics. He has long since made claims to be a politician
and intends only to live wherever he writes best, the price he seems

happy to accept for this freedom of abode being that any critique he
directs at Peru is deemed void. Due to their involvement in the boom
period, Llosa often shares the honour of gracing the same sentence as
Gabriel Garcia Marquez and also shared a friendship with him, until Llosa
ended it, pre-empting Florence and the Machine by 30 years by punching
Marquez in the face at a film premiere in Mexico City in 1976 for reasons
which have subsequently never been rendered public, though political
variance and women have been cited. Despite never having rekindled
their friendship in 2007, to celebrate the 40 year anniversary of Marquezs
Nobel prize winning novel 100 Years of Solitude, it was rumoured that the
republication of the novel would be preceded by a laudatory foreword
authored by Llosa. This was subsequently revealed to be, in fact, an
excerpt plucked from an essay Llosa had written in 1967, prior to the
estrangement (the republication of which he had suppressed) and which
leaves any inclination to proffer an olive branch still on the table. The
colossal reputations of both writers makes the perpetuating spat one of
modern literatures most significant feuds, sharing the mantle with Salman
Rushdie abuse-laden relationship with John Le Carre (Andrew Wiles, 2010).
According to Mario : (Vincenzo Hiemer, 2014)
I am grateful to the Council for the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings "
for inviting me to deliver this lecture because they are considering me not
only for my literary work but also for my ideas and political views. In the
world in which I move most frequently, Latin America, United States
and Europe, when individuals or institutions pay tribute to my novels or
literary essays, they typically add an this does not mean that we accept
his criticisms or opinions regarding political issues. After having grown
accustomed to this bifurcation of myself, I am happy to feel reintegrated
thanks to this institution, which, rather than subject me to that
schizophrenic process, views me as a unified being. But now, to be honest
with you, I feel I should explain my political position. I fear it is not enough
to claim that I am a liberal. The term itself raises the first complication. As
you well know, liberal has different and frequently antagonistic

meanings, depending on who says it and where they say it. For example,
my

grandmother Carmen used to say that a man was a liberal when

referring to a gentleman of dissolute habits. For her, the prototypic


incarnation of a liberal was a legendary ancestor of mine who told his
wife that he was going to buy a newspaper and never returned. The
family heard nothing of him until 30 years later, when the fugitive
gentleman died in Paris. In the United States, the term liberal has leftist
connotations. On the other hand, in Latin America and Spain, where the
word was coined to describe the rebels who fought against the Napoleonic
occupation, they call me a liberal or, worse yet, a neo-liberal to
discredit me, because the political perversion of our semantics has
transformed the original meaning of the term a lover of liberty, a person
who rises up against oppression to signify conservative or reactionary.
Liberalism, in Latin America, was a progressive intellectual and political
philosophy that, in the XIX century, opposed militarism and dictators,
wanted the separation of Church and the State and the establishment of
democratic

and

civilian

culture.

In

most

countries

liberals

were

persecuted, exiled, send to prisons or killed by the brutal regimes that,


with few exceptions Chile,

Costa Rica, Uruguay and no more

prospered all over the continent. But in the XX century revolution, not
democracy, was the aspiration of the political avant-garde, and this
aspiration was shared by a great number of young people who wanted to
emulate the guerrilla example of Fidel Castro. In this context, liberals
were considered conservatives and caricaturized so much that their real
."political goals and authentic ideas only permeated small circles
Only in the last decades of the 20th century things started to "
change and liberalism came to be recognized as something deeply
different from the Marxist left and the extreme right, and it is important to
mention that this was possible, at least in the cultural sphere, because of
the courageous endeavor of the great Mexican poet and essayist Octavio
Paz and the magazines that he published, Plural and Vuelta. After the fall
of the Berlin Wall, the collapse of the Soviet Union and the conversion of

China to a capitalist (though authoritarian) country, political ideas also


evolved in Latin America and the culture of freedom made important
gains all over the continent. Because liberalism is not an ideology, but
rather an open, evolving doctrine that yields to reality instead of trying to
force reality to do the yielding, there are diverse tendencies and profound
discrepancies among liberals. With regard to religion and social issues,
liberals like me, who are agnostics as well as supporters of the separation
between church and state and defenders

of the

decriminalization

of

abortion, gay marriage and drugs, are sometimes harshly criticized by


other liberals who have opposite views on these issues. These differences
of opinion are healthy and useful because they do not violate the basic
precepts of liberalism, which are political democracy, the market economy
and the defense of individual interests over those of the State. For
example, there are liberals who believe that economics is the field
through which all problems are resolved and that the free market is the
panacea for everything from poverty to unemployment, discrimination
and social exclusion. These liberals, true living algorithms, have
sometimes generated more damage to the cause of freedom than did the
Marxists, the first champions of the absurd thesis that the economy is the
driving force of history. It simply is not true. Ideas and culture are
what differentiate civilization from barbarism, not the economy. The
economy by itself may produce optimal results on paper, but it does not
give purpose to the lives of people. The free market is the best
mechanism in existence for producing riches and, if well complemented
with other institutions and uses of democratic culture, can launch the
material progress of a nation to the spectacular heights with which we are
familiar. But it is also a relentless instrument, which, without the spiritual
and intellectual component that culture represents, can reduce life to a
ferocious, selfish struggle. Thus, the liberal I aspire to be considers
freedom a core value. The foundations of liberty are private property
and the rule of law; this system guarantees the fewest possible forms of
injustice, produces the greatest material and cultural progress, most
effectively stems violence and provides the greatest respect for human

rights. According to this concept of liberalism, freedom is a single, unified


concept. Political and economic liberties are as inseparable as the two
sides of a medal. Because freedom has not been understood as such in
Latin America, the region has had many failed attempts at democratic
rule. This was either because the democracies that began emerging after
the dictatorships were toppled respected political freedom but rejected
economic liberty, which inevitably produced more poverty, inefficiency
and

corruption,

or because they led to authoritarian governments

convinced that only a firm hand and a repressive regime could guarantee
".the functioning of the free market
Political democracy, freedom of the press and the free market "
are foundations of a liberal position. But, thus formulated, these three
expressions have an abstract, algebraic quality that dehumanizes and
removes them from the experience of the common people. Liberalism is
much, much more than that. Basically, it is tolerance and respect for
others, and especially for those who think differently from ourselves, who
practice other customs and worship another god or who are nonbelievers. By agreeing to live with those who are different, human beings
took the most extraordinary step on the road to civilization. It was an
attitude or willingness that preceded democracy and made it possible,
contributing more than any scientific discovery or philosophical system to
counter violence and calm the instinct to control and kill in human
relations. It is also what awakened that natural lack of trust in power, in all
powers, which is something of a second nature to us liberals. We cannot
do without power, except of course in the lovely utopias of the anarchists.
But it can be held in check and counterbalanced. Defending the individual
is the natural consequence of believing in freedom because it is measured
by the level of autonomy citizens enjoy to organize their lives and work
toward their goals without unjust interference, that is, to strive for
negative freedom, as Isaiah Berlin called it. Collectivism has survived
throughout history in those doctrines and ideologies that place the
supreme value of an individual on his belonging to a specific group. All of

these collectivist doctrines Nazism, fascism, religious fanaticism and


communism and nationalism are the natural enemies of freedom and
the bitter adversaries of liberals. In every age, that atavistic defect has
reared its ugly head to threaten civilization. A great liberal thinker, Ludwig
von Mises, was always opposed to the existence of liberal parties because
he believed that the liberal philosophy should be a general culture shared
with all the political currents and movements co-existing in an open
society. There is a lot of truth to this theory. In recent past, we have seen
cases of conservative governments, such as that of Ronald Reagan,
Margaret Thatcher and Jose Maria Aznar, which promoted deeply liberal
reforms. At the same time, we have seen nominally socialist leaders, such
as Tony Blair in the United Kingdom, Ricardo Lagos in Chile, and in our
days, Jose Mujica in Uruguay, implement economic and social policies that

".can only be classified as liberal


Populism more than revolution is today the major obstacle for "
progress in Latin America. There are many ways to define populism;
but, probably, the more accurate is the kind of demagogic social and
economic policies that sacrifice the future of a country in favor of a
transient present. With fiery rhetoric, Argentine President Cristina
Fernandez de Kirchner has followed the example of her husband, the late
President Nestor Kirchner, with nationalizations, interventionism, controls,
persecution of the independent press, policies that have taken to the
brink of disintegration a country that is, potentially, one of the more
prosperous of the world. Even the left has been reluctant to renege on the
privatization of pensions which has occurred in eleven Latin American
countries to date whereas the more backward left in the United States
opposes the privatization of Social Security. These are positive signs of a
certain modernization of the left, which, without recognizing it, is
admitting that the road to economic progress and social justice passes
through democracy and the market, which we liberals have long preached
.into the void"(Vincenzo Hiemer, 2014)

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