cover image Literatura y Politica

Literatura y Politica

Mario Vargas Llosa. Catedra Alfonso Reyes Itesm, $8.95 (108pp) ISBN 978-970-9031-11-9

In this latest publication, celebrated Peruvian novelist, playwright, and essayist Vargas Llosa (La fiesta del chivo [The Day of the Goat], Cr!ticas, Summer 2001) presents his views on literature and politics and on the craft of writing. The book opens with a well-researched essay by Raymond L. Williams, a longtime scholar of the author, which identifies five factors that have shaped Vargas Llosa's writing and political views: a traditional family background, the influence of Jean-Paul Sartre, Manuel Odr!a's dictatorship in Peru (1948-56), the Cuban revolution, and, finally, his political and economical studies during the `80s. Williams refrains from any critical observation and praises Vargas Llosa for his consistent defense of human rights and freedom of the press and for being an independent critic. His essay serves as an introduction to the next section of the book, where Vargas Llosa proposes a dialectic relationship between literature and politics. After skillfully analyzing the works of renowned authors, he concludes that while literature and politics differ the first cannot be confined to actuality and is born in solitude, while the second is practical, current, and the result of social interaction they can use each other to fight against exploitation, social injustice, and adversity. Finally, Vargas Llosa speaks about his writing techniques, enumerating the ingredients of the novela total (complete novel) in which all elements narrator, argument, time and space, style, and structure are equally important. As in his Cartas a un joven novelista (Letters to a Young Novelist, Planeta, 1997), Vargas Llosa reiterates that he is not giving a formula on the praxis of writing but simply a clear idea of his own writing experience. Overall, this book provides a useful, comprehensive overview of the history and ideology behind this acclaimed author's writing. Recommended for readers of Latin American literature in academic and public libraries. Liliana Wendorff, Univ. of North Carolina at Pembroke