Wellsprings

ISBN-10: 0674028368
ISBN-13: 9780674028364
Edition: 2008
List price: $17.95
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Description: When a master novelist, essayist, and critic searches for the wellsprings of his own work, where does he turn? Mario Vargas Llosa-Peruvian writer, presidential contender, and public intellectual-answers this most personal question with elegant  More...

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Book details

List price: $17.95
Copyright year: 2008
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Publication date: 5/31/2008
Binding: Hardcover
Pages: 152
Size: 4.75" wide x 7.50" long x 0.75" tall
Weight: 0.550
Language: English

When a master novelist, essayist, and critic searches for the wellsprings of his own work, where does he turn? Mario Vargas Llosa-Peruvian writer, presidential contender, and public intellectual-answers this most personal question with elegant concision in this collection of essays. In ldquo;Four Centuries of Don Quixote,rdquo; he revisits the quintessential Spanish novel-a fiction about fiction whose ebullient prose still questions the certainties of our stumbling ideals. In recounting his illicit, delicious discovery of Borgesrsquo; fiction-ldquo;the most important thing to happen to imaginative writing in the Spanish language in modern timesrdquo;-Vargas Llosa stands in for a generation of Latin American novelists who were liberated from their sense of isolation and inferiority by this Argentinean master of the European tradition. In a nuanced appreciation of Ortega y Gasset, Vargas Llosa recovers the democratic liberalism of a misunderstood radical-a mid-century political philosopher on a par with Sartre and Russell, ignored because ldquo;he was only a Spaniard.rdquo; And in essays on the influence of Karl Popper and Isaiah Berlin, the author finds an antidote to the poisonous well of fanaticism in its many modern forms, from socialist utopianism and nationalism to religious fundamentalism. From these essays a picture emerges of a writer for whom the enchantment of literature awakens a critical gaze on the turbulent world in which we live.

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.

Four Centuries of Don Quixote
The Fictions of Borges
Ortega y Gasset and the Revival of a Liberal
The Challenge of Nationalism
Fiction and Reality in Latin America
Isaiah Berlin, a Hero of Our Time
Updating Karl Popper
Acknowledgments

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