Mario Vargas Llosa in Buenos Aires and the friendly crack by Benito Pérez Galdós, one of the various conversation topics of the Nobel

The Buenos Aires Book Fair is preparing today to welcome its main international guest: Mario Vargas Llosa. The Nobel Prize for Literature, who was discharged from hospital last week after being hospitalized for COVID in the Spanish capital, where he resides, arrived in Argentina last night. With an agenda that preserves him from social and press activities, and is cut almost exclusively to protocol and FIL appointments, the author will make his first public appearance this afternoon at La Rural, where he will return on Sunday to present the new book by the, the still gaze (from Perez Galdos) (Alfaguara), about who was also a collaborator of LA NACION. At today’s meeting, he will hold a conversation together with Javier Cercas, one of his great friends, with whom he celebrates, however, having differences, for example, in his vision of Benito Pérez Galdós. If for the Peruvian Galdós he does not take political or ideological sides neither in his gaze nor through his narrators, Cercas, on the contrary, questions that neutrality and argues that the author of Tristana he was interested in spreading his convictions through his novels.

One Saturday last March, when the Writers Festival was debuting in Malaga – I find that although it does not bear the name of Vargas Llosa, it does have his spirit and stamp – Cercas reviewed his extensive career in an interview conducted by Raúl Tola, director of the event; Often the author of Soldiers of Salamis, addressed his opinion to the Nobel. With great success, almost fifty readers were left out of the room that morning and the writers continued their conversation at a relaxed lunch. On that occasion, Cercas and Vargas Llosa sat down with Juan Gabriel Vásquez, winner of the IV Biennial novel Mario Vargas Llosa, for his praised look back (Alfaguara), whose presence at the Buenos Aires Fair was announced by mistake: this time the Colombian does not participate in the event.

In an era of irreconcilable dichotomies, of ideologies that deny dissidence, Vargas Llosa begins the prologue of the still gaze highlighting another immense author with whom he has disagreements, Javier Cercas, precisely, about Galdós. In addition to keeping some differences, he also treasures a rich dialogue. Vargas Llosa and Cercas not only possess virtuosity in writing, but also oratory –does not always happen; there are writers who are not loquacious – and their opinions with sharp outlines and never gray generate reactions and criticism. For example, Vargas Llosa considers that Cercas, who lives in Catalonia, is “brave”: “When he writes political articles criticizing independence demagoguery, he is convincing and unobjectionable.” The Peruvian author maintains that Soldiers of Salamis, Anatomy of a moment [en Madrid se presentó recientemente en el Teatro de la Abadía una versión teatral] Y The impostor they are masterpieces. Does not appear in this list the border lawsrecently adapted to the cinema, nor the tetralogy starring detective Melchor Marín, his rereading of The Miserablesthe novel cycle that was inaugurated with the Planeta Prize.

What is striking and salutary is that the introduction to Vargas Llosa’s latest book begins with an invocation to those who dared to criticize the style of the author of Fortunate and Jacinta: “In that controversy I was at the side of [Antonio] Muñoz Molina and in opposition to my friend Javier Cercas”. The Peruvian also highlighted that in this “civilized” discussion among intellectualsthe Spaniard wrote a few months later in the diary The country an article where he recognized merits in Galdós, without retracting or changing his opinion, in an exercise of greatness and intellectual elegance.

The cancellation is one of the biggest concerns of the Nobel and its damages are noted with notoriety, according to the writer, in the universities of the United States and in the media. “Those who believe in the cancellation do not believe in the debate and seek to remove from the field of debate all those who disagree with the radical measures that they defend,” he explained last Monday in a presentation of the chair that bears his name and that The cycle of meetings “Freedom and its enemies” began, promoted together with the digital media The Objective, That They celebrate in Madrid’s Casa de América (it can be seen on the YouTube channel of this institution). Different personalities will discuss this topic and in the first meeting the philosopher Fernando Savater also explored this issue.

Galdós himself had in life great detractors furious with the portrait of Spain that he captured in the 46 novels that make up the National Episodes cycle. And it is here that Vargas Llosa speaks of Galdós, of the way of having constructed these novels set in key moments of Spanish history, but also of the current moment: “[Lo hizo] with objectivity and an understanding and generous spirit, without depart pris ideological, putting morality above politics, trying to distinguish between the tolerable and the intolerable, the fanaticism and the idealism of the adversaries. That is what most attracts attention when reading his novels, his dramas and his episodes: a writer who strives to be impartial. His attitude gives the impression of freezing the Spain of that time in a still and objective gaze, which immobilizes what he wants to narrate to give a more reliable vision of what is narrated”.

Vargas Llosa, as he did with Ortega y Gasset (the call of the tribe), with Gustave Flaubert (the perpetual orgy), with Virginia Woolf and Thomas Mann (the truth of the lies) and before with Gabriel García Márquez (in his doctoral thesis) he brings his faithful readers closer to other authors through his essays. In this case it is the turn of Galdós and Vargas Llosa thus offers him the best tribute in a series of tributes for the centenary of a popular author of his time. Again, the Peruvian writes to understand without deifying, and also to build bridges of dialogue, even, or in particular, with those who do not think like him, like his friend Cercas de el.

Today, at 6:30 p.m., the author of conversation in the cathedral will present in the José Hernández room the agreement between the Vargas Llosa Chair and the El Libro Foundation (FEL) with Cercas, Ariel Granica (president of the FEL) and Alejandro Vaccaro (president of the SADE), an event that will be broadcast via streaming on the channel from YouTube of the FIL. At 8:00 p.m., in this same room, with the task of analyzing “The new Ibero-American novel”, Vargas Llosa, Luis Alberto de Cuenca, María Rosa Lojo and Alejandro Roemmers will participate in a dialogue presented by the journalist and writer Jorge Fernández Díaz. On Sunday 8, at 6:30 p.m., also with the presence of the author of Mom, Vargas Llosa will present his new book. On Monday 9, the Nobel agenda is reserved for the 2022 Fundación Libertad Annual Dinner at the Goldcenter complex in Buenos Aires (Parque Norte); on Tuesday, he will travel to Rosario and on Wednesday he will cross to Uruguay, where he will be received by President Luis Lacalle Pou.

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Mario Vargas Llosa in Buenos Aires and the friendly crack by Benito Pérez Galdós, one of the various conversation topics of the Nobel