Thursday, October 7, 2010

Mario Vargas Llosa: Nobel for Literature-Deserved.

Mario Vargas Llosa is well known for his playful narrative technique and crafty imagination. His personality is marked not just as a novelist but also as a journalist and a politician. A novelist, primarily, his trenchant criticisms on the Communist dictatorships in Latin America, have ultimately reached the day of global recognition through the Literature Nobel, 2010. Swedish Academy in declaring one of the most sensible decisions in the post modern times, has posited an opportunity for readers and students of literature to explore Llosa’s universe more close and with significance haunting beyond the linguistic limits.

“Aunt Julia and the Script Writer” is yet another testimony of his narrative talents. The novel is published in 1977. As in all his major works, the background of the novel is Peru and life in Peru. The novel is set in the 1950s. Llosa consecrates the novel with its pleasant and exuberant openness to possibilities. In other words, the art of fiction in Llosa becomes more rigorous and adventurous. Moreover, “Aunt Julia and the Script Writer” bears a direct connection with Llosa’s life; the novel is semi-autobiographic. The book is based in part on the author's first marriage, to Julia Urquidi. The book also talks about the author's life as a student in the law University.

The structure of the novel offers a refreshing perception. Each chapter is followed by a story from the radio soaps telecasted in the radio channel, owned by the same person who owns Radio Panamerica, the radio channel in which Mario, the protagonist works. Pedro Camacho, the neurotic playwright, who has been hired from Bolivia by the owners of the radio station, draws the public of Peru to their radio sets in storm. That was an era when television was not yet introduced in that country. Mario maintains a good relationship with the script writer. The serials written by Pedro Camacho, forms intermittent pauses in the main story of the novel, with each episode of a new serial following each chapter. These episodes are integrated into the novel by giving chapter counts, and also through occasional references about the story and events in the serials, made by different characters in the main story.

The stillness of social and political life in Peru is often contrasted with vigour and adventure in the lives of the characters. Mario, the protagonist, suspends the moral codes of the society by falling in love with his aunt-in-law, Julia, who is a divorcee. She had returned from Bolivia after her marriage broken, and is ten years older than Mario. Mario is 18 and aunt Julia 32. The novel deals with their secret love affair and the related events. Towards the end, the narrative gets taut and resembles a thriller. And the novel ends with events that are contrary to the ones one meets earlier; just like the temperament in the Pedro Camacho serials. The novel primarily focuses on the life of Mario until his marriage with Julia. They leave Peru after their marriage. Their marital life after leaving Peru is not the least of the worries of Llosa.

Pedro Camacho, who as a result of a nervous break-down, loses his precision and starts mixing his characters and plots, in all his serials. This was first noted as a very complex artistic technique by the owners of the radio station, but later they realized the writer had gone out of his mind. As a result Camacho was sent to an asylum. Mario, after fulfilling his dream to become a writer, years later, now settled in Paris, returns and finds Camacho in a decrepit state who doesn’t even recognize his old friend, Mario. The relationship with Aunt Julia also gets a nasty set back, although it has been presented with a good humoured and witty tone.


In “Aunt Julia and the Script Writer”, unlike other works by Llosa like “The Feast of the Goat”, “The Time of the Hero”, etc.; the politics of the country doesn’t get the upper hand. But still the novel, through the dimensions offered by its thematic alignment, explicitly denies authoritarianism—a recurring concept in Llosa’s works. Here, in “Aunt Julia and the Script Writer”, it is cultural totalitarianism that has been decapitated through Mario’s love affair with Aunt Julia. Also in Pedro Camacho’s serials ample evidences for incest, murder, fratricide etc, can be spotted. Though, these serials represent a pack of violent rebellion against some of the norms of the existing culture, they later dissolves irrevocably into madness, anarchy, and a complete lack of order, as Camacho himself ‘created’—catastrophe and a reign of death—in his serials. This ‘creation’, though is originated from a mind that is hopelessly drowning into the bottom of darkness, the warning that Llosa wants to deliver to the world is clear. A freedom without restrictions could easily become anarchy. And it is the same way insane and dizzying as authoritarianism.

[This post has been chosen as the Editor's Pick in the Open Salon Magazine]


Terri said...

Congratulations for being selected as the Editor's Pick in the Open Salon Magazine! That has got to make you feel really good.
This is one of many acknowledgements I hope that you'll receive on your path as a writer.

Anu Lal said...

Thank you Tia. Seeking your blessings with Love.