Prior to Vargas Llosa’s arrival on the literary scene, twentieth-century Peruvian literature was dominated by the works of Jose Carlos Mari£tegui, Cesar Vallejo, and Jose Maria Arguedas. Maria’tegui’s work reflects his belief that Peru’s people provide the key to understanding the country’s past and future. Vallejo’s poetry, prose, and drama gained special recognition after he took his life in 1938. His work reflects his belief in the importance of solidarity among human beings. Arguedas drew on the works of Maridtegui and Vallejo as he wrote about rural and urban life in Peru.
In the 1960s, there was a “boom” in LatinAmerican literature. During this period, the work of prominent Latin-American writers received international attention and acclaim. As a result, related areas also expanded, such as translation, literary criticism, and North American graduate programs related to Spanish-language studies. The type of fiction that developed during the boom was new in that it was less documentary-like in style, presented the characters’ inner lives, and offered different ways to interpret reality. This last element provided the foundation for magical realism, a type of fiction that is strongly associated with Latin American writers and has gained a substantial following worldwide. Magical realism is a type of fiction that is realistic and conventional on the surface, but contains elements such as the supernatural, fantasy, or myth.
Writers whose work is credited with contributing to the boom include Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Jorge Luis Borge, and Julio Cortazar. Many of their works are considered enduring masterpieces of modern literature. In addition to being one of the youngest writers associated with the Latin American boom, Vargas Llosa is also the main Peruvian writer of the period.
Realism in Literature
Realism in literature, which became especially prominent around the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century, refers to an author’s factual, lifelike rendering of people, things, and events. Such writing is often concerned with realistic consequences of decisions made by characters. Most realistic writers are interested in democracy and frequently depict life among common people. Realism often reflects the tendency to move away from neatly plotted stories with distinct beginnings, middles, and endings, because life does not happen this way. Realists do not cater to readers’ needs for satisfying conclusions with all loose ends resolved. Instead, they prefer to represent an episode (or episodes) from real life, leaving questions unanswered and a degree of uncertainty about where the characters will go after the story ends.
Vargas Llosa combined the realism he admired in many European literary works with his own innovations. He added multiple perspectives, interior monologues, and fragmented narratives.
Thomas E. Barden – Short Stories for Students – Presenting Analysis, Context & Criticism on Commonly Studied Short Stories, vol. 14, Mario Vargas Llosa – Published by Gale Cengage Learning.