Mario Vargas Llosa under the dome
Thursday, November 25, 2021, the French Academy, by a massive vote and in the first round, elected to the chair of Michel Serres the writer Hispano-Peruvian Mario Vargas Llosa. À l’auteur du Passage du Nord-Ouest, grand voyageur et philosophe nomade, succède l’un des plus grands romanciers des XX-XXIe siècles, prix Nobel de littérature en 2010, et celui qu’en sa quatre-vingt-cinquième année, fort de ses dizaines d’essais et ses milliers d’articles – ses « Pierres de touche » ,– on peut tenir pour un maître à penser et une conscience morale de son temps.That we allow Sonami and translator for half a century to sketch his portrait here.
I knew Mario Vargas Llosa in 1970 in Barcelona where he lived, after spending six years in Paris and four in London.He lived on the heights of La Ciutat Comtal, neighbor of his writing brother Gabriel García Márquez.Those who were going to become the lighthouses of Latin American literature and mark their imprint modern writing, far beyond what has been called magical realism, lived the exile of their countries of origin on which blowThe totalitarian wind.In fact, I knew or rather crossed it in Guillermo Cabrera infant, this immense Cuban writer refugee in London and whose, with the blessing of Dionys Mascolo and Gallimard, I translated three sad tigers, my first steps for such a chief ofwork.At 53 Gloucester Road, in Kensington, crossed the greatest, Cortázar Argentinian and Uruguayan Emir Rodríguez Monegal, Manuel Puig de Buenos Aires (whose French voice I was soon), Carlos Fuentes (who was teaching Cambridge in CambridgeSucceeding Vargas Llosa), José Donoso the Chilean who gave me three novels to translate, and last but not least (we are in London) Mario Vargas Llosa, a big young man with a strong voice, all of enthusiasm and fire.I undertake to translate his short novel, the puppies, of such an original writing ─ an exercise in style with his chronological jumps, the mixture of voices, the confusion of narrative instances ─ that I bought my learning from this writing came therein America.After which I never stopped translating him, until his latest novel, one of the most impactful, wild weather (Gallimard, 2021).
But what does this have to do with France and its highest academic body?Vargas Llosa learned French, and then discovered Gide, Camus and Saint-Exupéry, to the Alliance Française de Lima.Let us add that the Alliance française, so competent and devoted, allowed thousands of South Americans to learn our language, and also, for our modest part, that the University of Rennes-2 ─ which, on the initiative of theFigural President André Lespagnol, in 1994 awarded him the title of Doctor Honoris Causa ─ provided him with a good batch of teachers.It was at the age of twenty-one that Vargas Llosa landed with us, thanks to a literary prize-the first in a very long series-which invited him to Paris for a stay ofa month.The budding writer stayed at the Napoleon hotel, avenue de Friedland and discovered the Champs-Élysées and the gargoyles of Notre-Dame, which he will later remember, jointly reading Victor Hugo, to populate his novels his novels, and in particular the war of the end of the world (Gallimard, 1983) which interested a year during the Paramount de Paris which ultimately did not retain the initial scenario, but won the Ritz-Hemingway Prize in Paris.He sought to meet Jean-Paul Sartre, but Jean Cau, his secretary, saved.Unlike Camus, which he approached at the exit of a theater, accompanied by Maria Casarès.Another major discovery: Gérard Philipe whom he applauds in Chaillot in the Prince of Hombourg.But the author, as soon as his foot is placed on the Parisian pavement, made as first purchase the acquisition of the most emblematic novel of French culture, Madame Bovary, who was going to determine her vocation in the wake of the Croisset hermit on whichHe would later write his brightest literary essay: perpetual orgy - Flaubert and Madame Bovary (Gallimard, 1978).Previously, the Peruvian had devoured and admired one of the greatest books of French culture, the miserable, the reading of Victor Hugo who supported him in the hard ordeal to which a tyrannical father had submitted him at the age ofFourteen years: the military academy Leoncio Prado de Lima, where the turbulent children were dispatched and some flourishes of the slums.It is this traumatic experience that Vargas Llosa drew his first novel, the city and the dogs (Gallimard, 1966), both mapping of the Peruvian company and settling of accounts with his sire - "Kill the father", n 'is this not ?
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Many other French authors will hold his attention to him who, in his years of student had subscribed two only subscriptions to magazines, and Parisian journals as he felt, like some other big Latin American names, such as Octavio Paz and Julio Cortázar, that Paris was then the cultural capital of the world: modern times and new letters.Hence his deep knowledge of Sartre and Camus, first admiring the first, then definitively the second.We will find his enlightening study "Between Sartre and Camus" in the essay against winds and tides (Gallimard, 1989) where he also addresses the work of battle - He prefacked the Spanish edition of History of the Eye ─ and John of John-François Revel, a thinker who marked him so much that he devotes a long chapter to him in his last essay the call of the tribe (Gallimard, 2021), like Raymond Aron, that he will have admired his life during.Les Lettres Nouvelles and Maurice Nadeau, whom he always praised as a critic, published in July 1961 his first French text: Claude Couffon, who was his friend and his zero, translated the famous news ─ El Desafío / Le grandfère ─had won in 1957 the competition organized on the occasion of the French exhibition of Lima by the French Review.Vargas Llosa owes a lot to Couffon ─ which was, alongside Dodik Jégou, the soul of the International House of Poets and writers of Saint-Malo ─ which was shown to have the Ciudad y los Perros published in Barcelona in 1963 andThrowing the career of the future Nobel Prize winner.The latter's visit to Brittany and in this cultural place gave rise to the publication of interview with Vargas Llosa (Terre de Brume, 2003).
If the perpetual orgy, a very personal vision of Flaubert, constitutes the greatest tribute paid by a Latin American writer to the author of Madame Bovary, a novel by Vargas Llosa, Aunt Julia and Le Scribouillard (Gallimard, 1979)Presents both as a paraphrase of sentimental education, a wink supported in Bouvard and Pécuchet, with some reminiscences of Flaubert's voluminous correspondence (Vargas Llosa read the 9 volumes of the Conard edition)and, for the most part, a thinking full of humor and depth on the art of the novel.We discover a professional writer there, the earthy "scribouillard" and soap operator of Radio Pedro Camacho, a man who lives only from, by and for the pen, organically structured as a literator, who dispensates his scholars and, sometimes, ridiculous advice to the young"Marito Varguitas", fantasy projection by the author of the beginner writer he was.Pedro Camacho, for example, installs his office on the ground floor, almost on the street to be in direct contact with reality;And to get into the skin of his characters, he does not hesitate to disguise himself, to pass masks, to contort aloud ─ Reminder of the famous "gueuloir" of Croisset ─ to justify the most Flaubertian way: "What is realism, gentlemen, so-called realism, what is it?What better way to make realistic art than to identify yourself materially with reality?As an echode the observation of Flaubert, so well penetrated by the poisoning of Emma whom he had just written ─ he confides to Louise Colet ─, with this taste of arsenic in her mouth, thatHe vomits all his dinner.And what about the advice on the marriage provided by the hermit of Croisset to his young friend Ernest Feydeau: "Be careful to damage your intelligence in the ladies trade.Will you lose your genius at the bottom of a matrix "?Vargas llosa serves us its parodic paraphrasé in the mouth of the scribbillard sermoning Varguitas, enamored of her aunt Julia: "Woman and art exclude themselves, my friend.In each vagina is buried an artist ’’.What Vargas Llosa borrows from Flaubert, above all, is the idea that everything is literature, that we must integrate all of his life and his experience in literature, to identify "body and soul".To Gustave declaring: "We must get used to seeing in the people around us only books", the perpetual orgy answers: "He transforms into literature everything that happens to him, his whole life is cannibalized by the novel", what aunt Julia takes up: "I learned that everyone, without exception, could be subject to story".For him, as for Flaubert, as for Alexandre Dumas, as for Victor Hugo, to whom he devoted the superb essay the temptation of the impossible: Victor Hugo and Les Misérables (Gallimard, 2008), "The only way to be[writer] was to give yourself body and soul to literature ”.This is why, by rendering thanks to the French writers, Vargas Llosa has never ceased, as Flaubert wanted, to "stumble in literature as in a perpetual orgy"
Who better than he has served and propagated French literature?Do we know that, celebrating the anniversary of the French Revolution in 1989, he published at the invitation of Daniel Lefort, cultural advisor near the French Embassy in Lima, a Spanish translation of the magnificent prose text by Arthur Rimbaud: A heart under a cassock, preceded by its enlightening preface "Rimbaud the corrupter"?The translators of Vargas Llosa (Claude Couffon, Bernard Lesfargues, Bernard Sesé and Sylvie Léger, Anne-Marie Casès and Daniel Lefort, without forgetting me in the lot) will only have been the voice of this vocation which, irresistibly,'pushed to read and give us to read so many writers from our home.Even a Retif of Breton whose fanchette's foot was able to inspire the hygienic mania of Don Rigoberto in Praise de la Marâtre (Gallimard, 1988).We would not finish cataloging the multitude of French references, and is it not by reflecting his admiration for Victor Hugo, whose bust sits in the play Kathie and Hippopotame (Gallimard, 1988), that the titleFrench of his novel El Hablador has become, inspired by the laughing man: the man who speaks?There is no doubt that under the dome, the new academician who so dazzled his constant translator and taught him so much about his own culture, will do just as much in the Galerie des Immortals.Immortal, Mario Vargas Llosa, yes, but still lively and wriggling, Vivo Y Coleando, says the Spaniard, like these dogs of which he populated his work.As for its always translator ─ fifty pounds in fifty years - it will never be that this puppy with the acute muzzle that adorned the records of "the voice of his master".
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