Mario Vargas Llosa and the Politics of Literature
Wiseman, David P.
Mario Vargas Llosa’s socio-political concerns are woven into the fabric of his creative narratives. Despite an impressive corpus of criticism on the recent Nobel Prize laureate’s writings, scholarship has not fully recognized the import of his evolving concept of literature. My approach is unique in that it evaluates the Peruvian’s novels, essays, and life history through his definition of literature and its role in society. Through an analysis of Vargas Llosa’s literary theories, I contend that his earliest descriptions of literature as revolution have been replaced by more recent commentaries on writing as a secondary course of action toward socio-political reform. I also argue that the closer Vargas Llosa comes to politics in his personal life, the more his literature diverts from his former notions of its function in society. My dissertation, therefore, concludes that a series of literary and political disillusionments resulted in a significant transition in Vargas Llosa’s concept of literature from its original revolutionary character in the 1960s to a more subdued role at present as the guardian of cultural memory.