Mario Vargas Llosa: When will the Spanish-Peruvian Nobel Prize in Literature enter the French Academy?

The Spanish-Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa will read his induction speech at the French Academy on February 9, thus fulfilling “a dream” of youth, declared to the AFP its French translator, Albert Bensoussan.

“He will be officially received on February 9. On February 8, he will be given the academic sword, and the next day, under the dome (of the Academy), he will read his speech,” explained Bensoussan, who has been in charge of translating the text, as it has been doing with all the writer’s work for half a century.

No spokesperson for French Academy was available this Wednesday to confirm those dates at the AFP.

It will be the culmination of a historic election that took place on November 25, 2021, after a long wait for the author of “Conversation in the Cathedral”as recently revealed by the perpetual secretary of the Academy, Hélène Carrère d’Encausse.

Nobel Prize for Literature in 2010, Vargas Llosa He is the first writer without having written directly in French to enter the Academy, founded by Cardinal Richelieu in 1635.

“A Writer of the World”

“When (Vargas Llosa) was locked up in the Military Academy (in Lima), he wanted to live in an attic in Paris. So, entering the Academy is entering his dream,” explains Bensoussan in an interview with AFP, who has just published a essay about the author

Mario Vargas Llosaécrivain du monde’ (Gallimard) is the homage of Bensoussan (87 years old) to whom he describes as a “master”, despite the fact that he is a year older than him.

“I have had to assume their ghosts and obsessions,” Bensoussan confesses in the book.

“I have inhabited his dreams (…) fraternally imitated his gestures, pampered his voice,” adds Bensoussan, a Hispanist and author of a long literary work in French.

Vargas Llosa is the last survivor of the “boom” of Latin American literatureof “magical realism” embodied by Gabriel García Márquez, Julio Cortázar or Carlos Fuentes.

Translate Mario Vargas Llosa into French

Bensoussan remembers the impact that generation had. “In France we were dazzled. At that time we were living in the era of the ‘Nouveau Roman’… novels where there was no magic of a story,” explains the translator, who knew and worked with many of these writers.

He met Vargas Llosa in 1971, when he commissioned him to translate ‘Los cachorros’ into French.

Bensoussan explains that he was already “trained” from having literally worked and lived with the Cuban Guillermo Cabrera Infante and his complex work ‘Three sad tigers’.

Vargas Llosa He received it in Barcelona, ​​where he lived at the time, and after reviewing the translation, he told him: “it’s better than the original,” says Bensoussan, laughing.

“Then he said: ‘you can translate at your leisure, I won’t control anything else’.” She was always traveling, she trusted me,” she adds.

“Well, sometimes I needed confirmation,” Bensoussan explains.

To translate “you have to have the text in your mind, but then you have to recreate it. You have to make a void (in your mind), that is, intuitively look for the word that in French will really correspond to the notion of what the text meant.” author,” he explains.

Translating involves “superimposing two circles: the translation circle covers the original, but not completely. Something is always gained and something is lost,” he explains.

“The (novel) that took me the longest was ‘The War at the End of the World,'” set in Brazil, he recalls. “It took me two years. I had to understand it… When I translate, I need to have the same bibliography as the author at my fingertips,” he says.

For an intellectual with a Latin American, Spanish and European background, entering the French Academy is not a rarity, emphasizes Bensoussan. “He will represent French culture with a different look. That’s why I describe him as ‘a writer of the world’.

(With information from AFP).


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Mario Vargas Llosa: When will the Spanish-Peruvian Nobel Prize in Literature enter the French Academy?