The essays in this volume were selected to shed light on Vargas Llosa's liberal postulates, his stance on the Latin-American reality, the hopes and threats he anticipates for the continent, and his ideas and commitments. In addition to portraying the author's intellectual trajectory, this is an analysis of the most important events to mark the recent history of Latin America. show more show less
Vargas Llosa, who received his doctorate from the University of Madrid and has lived in London and Paris, now resides in Peru. In addition to novels, he has also written extensively on the modern novel, especially the works of Garcia Marquez and Flaubert, and recently premiered two successful plays. Vargas Llosa's first novel, The City and the Dogs (The Time of the Hero), (1966), brought both scandal and fame to its author. A thousand copies were ceremoniously burned in Peru, where Vargas Llosa was denounced as an enemy of the state, but the novel was published in Spain to high critical acclaim. The Green House (1968), based on memories of experiences in the jungle, contains five interrelated stories fragmented through the five parts of the novel and covering a span of 45 years. Space, time, character, and action are broken and juxtaposed in a marvelous display of novelistic technique. Implicit are critiques of Peru's religious and military establishments. In Conversation in the Cathedral (1969), La Catedral being a bar, Vargas Llosa used the conversation between the son of a wealthy man and his father's mulatto chauffeur as a base for a series of juxtaposed pieces of other conversations, again exposing a corrupt society and revealing humanity's weaknesses and desperate condition. Captain Pantoja and the Special Service (1973) is Vargas Llosa's first openly comic novel, but it also uses overlapping simultaneous plots and a sardonic approach to the role of the military in Latin American public (and private) life. The humor does not hide the dark underside of a jungle where the unexpected is always waiting. Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter (1977) is openly autobiographical, dealing in barely disguised form with his first marriage. It again uses a favorite technique of juxtaposing two distinct narrative threads to satirize the commercialism and hypocrisy of society. In The War of the End of the World (1984), Vargas Llosa used a popular messianic revolt in the Brazilian backlands at the turn of the century to explore relations between fiction and so-called reality, one of his favorite critical themes. This may well be the first major novel on Brazil by a Spanish American writer.