The Peruvian Life According To Mario Vargas Llosa Essay

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Exceptional literary works of the greatest writers allow their readers to discover the world beyond the confines of the place and time they find themselves in. By reading their works, readers are able to learn what life was like in other places at other times through the experiences of fictional or real-life characters. One of the most important writers from the Latin American literary boom, Jose Mario Pedro Vargas Llosa took his audience to different times and places which allowed them to better understand the culture and society of his time as he explored various historical and political issues in his native country, Peru.

He played an active part in Peruvian politics and his political experiences largely influenced his writings. The Peruvian Life According To Mario Vargas Llosa Born on the 28th day of March in the year 1936, Jorge Mario Pedro Vargas Llosa grew up to become one of the most celebrated essayist, journalist, writer, and politician in Peruvian history (Author, year). He was arguably the most important writers of his time.

In Europe as well as in the English speaking world, he is regarded as one of the most celebrated writers of the so-called Latin American boom (Klaren, 1992). The international critical acclaim generated by the success of his novels is an undeniable fact, strengthened by the significant number of foreign languages into which his writings have been quickly translated (Klaren, 1992). Then again, it would be a serious mistake to interpret his works beyond the context of Latin American language and historical background.

Almost certainly, the Peruvian history is still very much essential in deciphering the message his novels seek to convey. In reference to the earlier essays he has written, the reader can easily notice that he seriously examines the relationship between the defiant young man and the 1950 Peruvian bourgeoisie. Peru was under the military dictatorial government of General Odria beginning in 1948 and lasted until 1956 (Munoz, 2000). Odrias administration was frequently denounced by student and workforce instability.

One can cast hardly any reservation that his direct experiences with the military in the Leoncio Prado Military Academy and then at the San Marcos University, which was filled with government spies and was subject under tight scrutiny, permanently marked his idea of independence as well as its relationship to the states authority to curb or remove it (Munoz, 2000). This was the time when he found himself seriously pondering upon his tendency and aspiration to engage in writing fiction and journalism. His dedication to social transformation is manifested in the essays, plays, and novels he has written.

He ran and lost the presidential elections of 1990 (cited in Gardels, 1997). His grandfather served as the Peruvian consul in Cochabamba, Bolivia. It was also where the young Vargas Llosa obtained his early education. Later on, he enrolled in different academic institutions in his native country prior to entering a military school located in the capital city of Peru. The three-act play entitled La Huida del Inca was his first ever written work that was published (ONeil, 2004). From then on, his works started to grace the pages of literary reviews in his country.

Beginning in 1956 until the following year, he was co-editor for the Cuadernos de Composicion (Stavans, 1996). He also served as co-editor for a year in Literatura starting in the year 1958. Aside from being a writer, Varga Llosa was also a broadcaster and a journalist. He also studied at the University of Madrid (Stavans, 1996). He relocated to Paris in the year 1959. He stayed there for seven years (Zapata, 2006). The Political Life of Vargas Llosa Similar to many other Latin American thinkers, he was a former ally of Fidel Castros Cuban revolutionary administration.

When he entered the university, Vargas Llosa thoroughly examined the Marxism philosophy (Zapata, 2006). Eventually, he was influenced by communist principles following the victory of the Cuban Revolution. Increasingly, he deemed that Cuban socialism was contradictory to what he acknowledges as universal rights and freedoms. The official falling-out between him and the Cuban political system came about with the alleged Padilla Affair, when Fidel Castro incarcerated the poet Herberto Padilla (Zapata, 2006).

In the company of his contemporary thinkers, Vargas Llosa wrote a letter addressed to Fidel Castro expressing their objection to the Cuban government policies as well as regarding the detention of Padilla. Since then, he has associated himself with neo-liberalism and not with the extreme left-wing political philosophies (Munoz, 2000). From that time on, he abandoned his former leftism and went up against both right-wing and left-wing dictatorial systems.

In the year 1983, when Vargas Llosa was appointed to the Investigatory Commission, the author went through what literary analyst Jean Franco refers to as the most difficult period in his career as a politician (Klaren, 1992). Unfavorably, for the author, his appointment to the Commission resulted in instant scandals and negative reactions from the local press. There were those who insinuated that the massacre was a scheme to prevent him from exposing the involvement of government paramilitary forces in Uchuraccay (Stavans, 1996).

The commission came to a conclusion pointing out to the native villagers as the ones who were responsible for the crime. The author claimed that the incident revealed how ineffective democracy is in that particular part of the globe and how quickly it collapses when subjected to dictatorial leaderships form both the rightists and the leftists (Stavans, 1996). The authors conclusion as well as that of the commission has been subjected under extreme criticism. Throughout the decade, the author gained recognition for his firm neo-liberal outlooks. He assisted in the foundation of the Movimineto Libertad in the year 1987 (Zapata, 2006).

He eventually led the aforementioned political party. A year after, his party engaged in a partnership involving the parties of the then leading traditionalist politicians, former president Fernando Belaunde Terry and Luis Bedoya Reyes to establish the tripartite coalition (Zapata, 2006). Vargas Llosa proposed a radical financial restriction program which particularly frightened the impoverished Peruvians. His program underscored primarily the need for the distribution of private property (cited in Gardels, 1997). It also stressed the need for free trade, market economy, and privatization.

Throughout his campaign, his political rivals delivered racy lines taken from his novels over the radio in a clear effort to stun voters. Even though he succeeded in the initial round garnering 34 percent of the votes, during the succeeding run-off, he was beaten by Alberto Fujimori, an agricultural engineer whose name was then unheard of (cited in Gardels, 1997). In his memoir entitled, A Fish in the Water, the author took into account his presidential bid (Stavans, 1996). From the moment he lost in the presidential election, Vargas Llosa shifted his focus primarily on his writing, participating rarely in political activities.

The Essential Elements Found In His Works The style of his writings includes historical details and his own life experiences. Citing for instance The Time of the Hero, the first novel he has ever written, Vargas Llosas personal experiences while studying at the Leoncio Prado Military School communicated the knowledge he used to portray a demoralized social organization which scorned the moral principles it was meant to defend (ONeil, 2004). In addition, the corruption of the school in the novel reflects the corruption of the Peruvian society during the time it was written.

The author usually makes use of his writings to treat with contempt the societal defects like the subjugation and demoralization by those who hold political authority towards those who oppose their power. He discussed the issues of exploitation and maltreatment in the hands of corrupt military officials in The Green House (Stavans, 1996). Vargas Llosas second novel examined the condemnation of the basic organizations in his native country. Moreover, a persons struggle for independence from a tyrannical reality is among the main themes he has dealt with in his works.

His novel entitled Conversation in the Cathedral is based upon the oppressive dictatorial leadership of former president Manuel A. Odria of Peru (Stavans, 1996). Santiago, the protagonist in the story revolts in opposition to the intolerable dictatorship by engaging in the dissident movements by the leftist political groups. Peru served as the setting of several of the earlier novels he has written. On the other hand, his more recent works were set in other Latin American countries like Dominican Republic and Brazil (Munoz, 2000). Vargas Llosas duties as a lecturer and writer gave him the chance travel more often.

They have likewise presented to him places located beyond the jurisdiction of his native country which could serve as settings for his novels. The first major work he has done which was set on a region outside his own country is entitled The War of the End of the World (Munoz, 2000). Although the novels plot chronicles the events during the Canudos revolution counter to the Brazilian government, it is not established exactly upon on historical details. To be more precise, he drew its main inspiration from the true-to-life depiction of those events as published in 1902 by Euclides de Cunha, a writer from Brazil (Munoz, 2000).

His other novel, The Feast of the Goat was based on Rafael Trujillos dictatorial leadership in the Dominican Republic (Stavans, 1996). Vargas Llosa engaged himself in a comprehensive study of the nations history to properly lay the groundwork for this novel. The novel can be described as one that is realist. The author stressed that he respected and did not embellished the essential facts in writing this novel. Nevertheless, he was quick to emphasize that he took many liberties to his disposal in writing the novel since The Feast of the Goat is basically not a history book (Zapata, 2006).

His perceptions of the society he was born to as well as his own experiences as a native of Peru are the things that have influenced his works as a writer. Yet progressively more, Vargas Llosa has extended his scope and dealt with themes which emerge from different areas around the globe. Furthermore, the shift from an approach and style related to literary modernism towards an occasionally playful postmodernism can be regarded as another significant move he has made throughout his career.

Distinct from many other Latin American writers in history, Vargas Llosa was able to pursue a dynamic journalism career alongside his development as a novel writer. As a journalist, he focused primarily on topics ranging from current political events to his own work and to literature. His coverage on the struggle between communism and capitalism, on the Sandinista revolution, as well as on Cuban revolution has been notably featured in certain leading American daily newspapers like the New York Times (Klaren, 1992).

Moreover, his writings have also been featured in widely circulated publications like the El Pais, The Times Literary Supplement, and Le Monde in Europe. Vargas Llosa also writes for magazines and newspapers published in Latin America of a wider continental reach like the Marcha and Vuelta (Klaren, 1992). Everything considered, it is safe to say that he has already reached a global readership. Mario Vargas Llosa was exploring the proper narrative techniques and structures which would allow him to depict his own contemporary and complex experiences of the urban Peruvian life.

The portrayal of public life in his fictional presentation of his own country illustrates a culture trapped in a crazy process called urbanization. Several existing material and mental social systems began a series of degeneration in this populous avalanche, as what some sociologist would refer to it (Klaren, 1992). The aforementioned decline of the old order combined with the violence generated by the aversion as well as the fear of the categorical and at the same time alienating unknown, marks Vargas Llosas imaginary world with a horrifying sense of pain.

Therefore, he was in need of a narrative structure which could convincingly sum up, not the yearning for a beautiful yet temporary rural order, instead the current of change in the daily lives of the average people moving from an intolerable old order towards the frightening and unrelenting fusion of the comopolis (Klaren, 1992). For most people, Lima may not be as stunning in comparison to other cities such as Los Angeles, New York, and Paris as depicted in contemporary journalism. Nonetheless, in terms of Peruvian history, the urban society developing from the capital of Peru beginning in the 1950s onwards is certainly cosmopolitan.


Gardels, N. (Ed. ). (1997). The Changing Global Order: World Leaders Reflect. New Jersey: Wiley-Blackwell. Klaren, S. C. (1992). Understanding Mario Vargas Llosa. South Carolina: University of South Carolina Press. Munoz, B. (2000). A Storyteller: Mario Vargas Llosa between Civilization and Barbarism. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield. ONeil, P. M. (2004). Great World Writers: Twentieth Century. New York: Marshall Cavendish. Stavans, I. (1996). Art and Anger: Essays on Politics and the Imagination. New Mexico: UNM Press. Zapata, M. A. (2006). Mario Vargas Llosa and the persistence of memory. Lima: UNMSM.

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