Saturday, July 2, 2011

The One with Current Nobel Prize, Vargas Llosa

Vargas Llosa holds a special place in my heart as a Nobel Prize laureate because he's of the few latin recipients of this prize, and my whole family is latin. (In fact, my Spanish is equally as good as my English.)

And, besides this, he's a very interesting author: although highly critical, his work is very entertaining.
This is what his Goodreads "life-summary" says:

"Mario Vargas Llosa, born in Peru in 1936, is the author of some of the most significant writing to come out of South America in the past fifty years. [...] Vargas Llosa is also active outside the literary arena, and was a serious contender for the presidency of Peru in 1990 (eventually losing to the now disgraced Alberto Fujimori), an experience he documented in his memoir, A Fish in the Water. [...] On the controversial nature of some of his work he said, “The writer’s job is to write with rigor, with commitment, to defend what they believe with all the talent they have. I think that’s part of the moral obligation of a writer, which cannot be only purely artistic. I think a writer has some kind of responsibility at least to participate in the civic debate. I think literature is impoverished, if it becomes cut from the main agenda of people, of society, of life.” "


And he was awarded the Nobel Prize last year for:
"for his cartography of structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual's resistance, revolt, and defeat".


 As I am lucky enough to be fluent in Spanish, and I do indeed need to practice this skill, I will be reading his work _____ in this language. And I will be commenting on it as I go.

After reading his Nobel Prize speech, one of the parts I liked the best were:

"Reading changed dreams into life and life into dreams and placed the universe of literature within reach of the boy I once was."

"Without fictions we would be less aware of the importance of freedom for life to be livable, the hell it turns into when it is trampled underfoot by a tyrant, an ideology, or a religion. Let those who doubt that literature not only submerges us in the dream of beauty and happiness but alerts us to every kind of oppression, ask themselves why all regimes determined to control the behavior of citizens from cradle to grave fear it so much they establish systems of censorship to repress it and keep so wary an eye on independent writers."

"Good literature erects bridges between different peoples, and by having us enjoy, suffer, or feel surprise, unites us beneath the languages, beliefs, habits, customs, and prejudices that separate us."

"I carry Peru deep inside me because that is where I was born, grew up, was formed, and lived those experiences of childhood and youth that shaped my personality and forged my calling, and there I loved, hated, enjoyed, suffered, and dreamed."

"The conquest of America was cruel and violent, like all conquests, of course, and we should criticize it but not forget as we do that those who committed pillage and crimes were, for the most part, our great-grandfathers and great-great-grandfathers, the Spaniards who came to America and adopted American ways, not those who remained in their own country. Such criticism, to be just, should be self-criticism."

"Literature is a false representation of life that nevertheless helps us to understand life better, to orient ourselves in the labyrinth where we are born, pass by, and die."


I heard an aunt of mine once say that she was in love with Vargas Llosa... even though he is about 35 years older, a politician, and on her standards, not "good-looking." But she says to have fallen in love with the man reflected in what he says, and what he believes in. And I couldn't agree more. Will he ever say or write something that isn't streaked with passion and beauty?

And, after all, love wouldn't be such a complicated thing if people fell for those who speak and believe beautiful things.

Finally, might I add that it is perfect timing because only a week ago I was in Peru?

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