Mario Vargas Llosa, Peruvian novelist and one of the most highly acclaimed writers of the Spanish-speaking world, was today awarded the 2010 Nobel Prize for Literature ‘for his cartography of structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual’s resistance, revolt, and defeat’.
The works of the new Nobel Laureate (the fifth Spanish American writer to win this coveted prize) have been read by generations of Swansea Hispanic Studies students. Senior Lecturer and Associate Fellow John Hall taught Vargas Llosa’s early novel, La ciudad y los perros (1959) (The Time of the Hero), for over twenty years and managed to enthuse students in their reading of a rather dour depiction of 1950s Peru marked by machismo, hypocrisy and aggression in a military setting. He is also editor of Vargas Llosa’s Los cachorros (1967) (The Cubs and Other Stories).
The curriculum has also featured Vargas Llosa’s hilarious semi-autobiographical novel, La tia Julia y el escribidor (1977) (Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter), in which the author reflects on his own early life and his literary apprenticeship. At 18 he had married his aunt Julia – then 30 – who suspected that her nephew was less interested in her than in the material their relationship might provide for his literary work. Such proved to be the case: his novel was published when their marriage ended after 8 years. Julia was moved to write a rejoinder, Lo que Varguitas no dijo (1988) (My Life with Mario Vargas Llosa) in which she took her revenge on her nephew: ‘All the family lived in awe of him […]. It seems that even as a child he knew how to take advantage of those who loved him. He really was an insufferable child!’.
Latin American Studies has grown in Swansea in recent years. We now run an MA in Latin American Studies and have a brand new research centre, the Centre for the Comparative Study of the Americas (CECSAM), which brings together scholars and researchers from the Americas: Canada, The United States, The Caribbean, Central and South America. The centre’s co-director, Dr. Lloyd Hughes Davies, says that ‘CECSAM seeks to promote, coordinate and provide a focus for comparative and interdisciplinary research on discourses such as cultural production – literature, film, art and music – as well as history, society, politics and the environment’. A recent highlight was the delivery of the Society of Latin American Studies annual lecture given by Dr Colin McEwan of the British Museum, entitled ‘Moctezuma: Fame, Fortune and Misfortune’.
You can read more about Vargas Llosa’s win here.