Friday, October 08, 2010

Mario Vargas Llosa on the Political Power of Latin American Literature

“I think Latin American literature deals with power and politics, and I would say this is inevitable. We in Latin America have not solved yet basic problems like freedom, like stable institutions, like tolerance, coexistence, and diversity.

We still have ... behind us this atrocious tradition of authoritarianism and brutality in politics. So it’s very difficult for a Latin American writer to avoid politics and these problems that are larger than politics. They are social; they are civic; they are moral.

I think that is the reason why Latin American literature is impregnated with political preoccupations that, in many cases, are more moral preoccupations than political ones. I think literature is an expression of life—and you can not eradicate politics from life.

Even if you think politics is, in many cases, a disgusting, dirty activity.”

-- Mario Vargas Llosa, in response to being asked if he thought enough novelists worked sufficiently at the task of understanding state power in their fiction here.

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