An Appreciation of Mario Vargas Llosa

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Where Vargas Llosa truly shows us his streak as a writer, and especially an essayist, is in his study of his much admired Flaubert, through Madame Bovary, with a beautiful title: The Perpetual Orgy.

Beyond the distance in years (115 years) Vargas Llosa considered Flaubert as the first modern novelist… and it is absolutely true. In his essay he unravels the French novelist’s literature, expressing his admiration for his writing as well as the issues he addressed. We can call it the avant-garde of the times. He expresses it thus: “the notion of the narrator, the awareness in the use of the language, the insurmountable distance between real-reality and the novel’s reality and the liberation of the characters as well as the readers, are factors that confers Flaubert the undisputed status of the first modern novelist”.

I think that Flaubert achieved —and allow me the word— “historifying” reality and novelate history. The French author understands that the narrator, the one telling the story, is only that, an invention, despite he does it in the first person. And we understand it like this reading the Peruvian’s work. But what Vargas Llosa mostly admires and develops in the analysis of Flaubert’s work, and not only in Madame de Bovary but also in The Sentimental Education, is the use of the language; nothing more and nothing less that the correct word. In the words of the French author: “le mot juste”.

Available here in Spanish.

Tim Reidy

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