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Vargas Llosa’s Fiction and the Demons of Politics

Sabine Köllmann

Much praised as a writer, but highly controversial as political commentator, Mario Vargas Llosa’s fiction is often regarded as reflecting his notorious political development, from a left-wing to a (neo)-liberal position. This study makes a critical evaluation of the interrelations within his fictional and non-fictional work from the 1960s to the present day, revealing a surprising continuity in his fictional creation and in his ideas about literature. Politics being one of the most persistent «demons» which, according to his theory, provoke his creativity, the book offers a detailed reading of three political novels from different periods of his writing career. Conversación en la catedral (1969), La guerra del fin del mundo (1981), and La fiesta del Chivo (2000) are analysed in relation to his works of literary theory, political commentary, memoirs, and other fictional texts. Despite considerable shifts in political and literary matters, Vargas Llosa’s writings show a continuous and unchanged concern for two interrelated issues: the impact of political problems such as authoritarianism, corruption, ideology, and violence on the individual, and the question of literature and the role of writers and intellectuals in society.
Contents: Narrative and historical reality – Truth and fiction – Narrative structure and meaning – Intellectuals and power – Writing and storytelling as anti-ideological practices – Exorcising one’s «demons»: Vargas Llosa’s doubles.