Mario Vargas Llosa confirmed tonight its star guest role at the 46th Buenos Aires International Book Fair. The Nobel Prize for Literature referred to his recent essay on Benito Perez Galdos, the still gazebut also caught the audience telling stories about Jorge Luis Borges, Julio Cortazar Yes Jean-Joseph Sebreli. At the same time, he gave a crude account of his recent recovery from the coronavirus.
“Losing your breath is a really traumatic experience,” said the award-winning writer, who relied on a cane to walk. At 86, the Peruvian author was present at the cultural and editorial event, where he showed his oratorical fluidity. The dialogue with the journalist and writer Jorge Fernandez Diaz she lay down, distended, for more than an hour.
The last survivor of the “boom” of Latin American literature showed himself in a suit and without a tie. And he gave his testimony on how he experienced the disease. “I started having very cold legs. It was already sunset and suddenly I started losing my breath. I started to choke, to breathe very badly, with great difficulty, then Isabel (Preysler) called a doctor, ”recalls José Hernández in front of a packed room, which followed each of his words in absolute silence.
“I heard the doctor in the distance, a voice that got lost. He said “he has a very high fever and it is essential to take him to the hospital”. This formula that the doctor used made me very nervous and I think the difficulty in breathing increased a lot. I was in a completely gone state and I remember that I was waiting for the van from the clinic and it never came”, he commented as part of his last intervention in this edition of the show.
Jorge Fernández Díaz spoke with the Nobel Prize for Literature
“Eventually the van arrived, they took me to the clinic, and I remember it as a real release when they put me on oxygen, and then I caught my breath. It wasn’t only a 24-hour experience, but frankly unpleasant,” he recalls from the stage.
Fernández Díaz recalled that the author of Pantaleon and visitors Yes Conversation in the Cathedral he began writing an article as soon as he recovered, and asked if this task took away the “narrative energy” for his literary profession. Vargas Llosa replied no, because he has “the two activities very well separated. A novel, for example, takes Monday to Saturday, but on Sunday I write the articles”.
The Peruvian author said he met for breakfast in La Biela this Sunday with his friend Jean-Joseph Sebreli. “We met many years ago in Paris and I think we had a discussion, the first time we met, during which I defended Cortázar. He was a close friend of Cortázar and Saw him quite often, instead he had many reservations with Julio Cortázar. I found that his novels had a political deficiency, that he didn’t address political issues in a deep, rich and creative way, and I talked to him a lot about this, and ended up agreeing with him over the years.”.
I consider that Cortazar he had discovered politics late in life. And “this discovery influenced him a lot, so that he began to write political novels. But in the novels or short stories that I had written before, there was always something very surprising, very disconcerting, and the lack of political commitment was not at all noticeable“, I consider.
Regarding his relationship with the author of Alef, recalled that Borges had never forgiven him for reporting in an article full of admiration for the great storyteller that there was a leak in his apartment in Maipú street. “Because Borges had these huachaferías, as we would say in Peru. He did not find enough respect to point out that in a house, in which he lived, in a room there was a leak.
“My admiration for Borges remains absolutely intact despite the bad jokes he made about it,” he said. And he also said that the Argentine writer “I did not understand that there was a social problem in Latin America, that there was a difference between what some Latin Americans earned and what others earned”.
Presentation of “The Motionless Gaze”.
Instead, Vargas Llosa (Arequipa, 1936) agreed with Sebreli that “if there is a country in Latin America that should find the way to progress, it is undoubtedly Argentina”.
As the program had anticipated, the conversation also revolved around her recent essay the still gaze, where he creates a complete, personal and suggestive profile of the Spanish writer. He recalled that Pérez Galdós published two articles a day in Spanish newspapers, although “he was not a good columnist, he was an essential novelist”.
Vargas Llosa indicated that Pérez Galdós’ dream was to be translated into French, which he did not achieve. He also weighed up that the case of this essential author of contemporary Spanish literature is that of many writers: “being unequal, writing works that were very important and works that were not, works that were a little stuffed”. He highlighted his attempt “to write the 19th century through simple, light, entertaining novels, written in a language very accessible to a wide audience. He had a lot of success with the national episodes, but curiously they weren’t released outside of Spain”.
As detailed by Vargas Llosa -who devoted himself to reading the work of Pérez Galdós from start to finish during the pandemic-, the Spaniard “has planned 15 novels, of which he has only written 12 It was a way of reaching the general public through anecdotes, stories, which put in a simple, light, unofficial way, historical facts within the reach of the general Spanish public”, which earned him a great hit.
Vargas Llosa considered that probably the author of Fortune and Hyacinth was probably”the first professional writer to appear in our letters in Latin America and Spain. He promised to write a novel every three months and he kept it. Now they didn’t always go well, other times they came out faulty.
Presentation of “The Motionless Gaze”.
“A great writer is not always a great writer,” he pointed out. And unlike Pérez Galdós, who corrected with little handwritten annotations but never rewrote a novel, he claimed he corrected a lot. “In this sense, I am exactly the opposition to Pérez Galdós. I could not write a novel lightly.”
In political matters, the author who made himself known with the publication of The city and the dogs (1963) asserts that he has very little confidence in the Latin American left, “it has a deeply distorted vision of reality, to which it puts before it a very closed dogmatism. The case of the left in relation to what is happening today in Ukraine, for example. Mr. Putin attacks in an absolutely virulent way a small country and yet this left does not react, does not condemn.
He was also convinced that democracy is not in crisis, but “alive”. “The Russian invasion of Ukraine served, among other things, to strengthen the European Union extraordinarily. I feel like Putin made a big mistake by invading Ukraine, regardless of the state of the military forces at his disposal. It gives the impression that Ukraine has become extraordinarily ennobled in the face of the invasion and that the invasion is not going to mean for the Russian troops this march that Putin had planned,” he said.
Instead, he was pessimistic about the prospects for Latin America, whose situation “couldn’t be more tragic. It is very difficult to be optimistic in the face of a Latin America paralyzed by the new dictatorships or about to plunge back into a period of violent action. It’s very difficult to be optimistic, which does not mean that you have to stop fighting,” insisted the author of The Goat Festival.
“Latin America, if you choose well, will choose what true freedom means,” he stressed. “Depending on this freedom, he will gradually overcome the huge problems he faces today,” he said. Before leaving leaning on his cane, the room gave him thunderous applause. The fair, even in times of pandemic, celebrated the participation of the Nobel Prize for Literature and the last survivor of the mythical “boom”.