Temptation of the Word
The Novels of Mario Vargas LlosaBook - 1998
Temptation of the Word offers an ambitious and careful reading of the creative process -- the origin of themes and the development of literary techniques -- that Mario Vargas Llosa has brought to each of his novels, published through 1996. To understand the novelist's intellectual environment, Kristal analyzes the entire corpus of Vargas Llosa's writings (including his many books of essays and his plays), his literary influences in several languages, his intellectual biography, and his political activism, all in the light of the evolving political turbulence of his times and his own changing concept of literature.
Kristal's analysis of each of the novels sheds light on how literary techniques, themes, and character types appear, recur, and are transformed over the three decades Vargas Llosa has been active as a narrative writer. In turn, Kristal's close readings are enriched by other sections of the book that offer insights into the intellectual currents and the political ideas that are addressed in the novels. This method brings to bear the most pertinent contextual debates, such as a discussion of the way his works borrow from, and sometimes rewrite, masterpieces by Conrad, Faulkner, Flaubert, Malraux, Stendahl, and Tolstoy, as well as exemplary works in the Latin American narrative tradition.
Kristal also identifies an irrationalist streak in the writings of Vargas Llosa and explores its implications in the novelist's literary conceptions and ethical convictions. Kristal concludes that the central concernof Vargas Llosa's novels is a premise that the hopes and desires of individuals are always greater than their ability to fulfill them. Yet the political content of Vargas Llosa's novels has never contradicted his political convictions because he has successfully avoided t