The Hispanic-Peruvian writer and Nobel Prize winner Mario Vargas Llosa is “impatient” to enter the French Academy, according to the institution’s perpetual secretary, Hélène Carrère d’Encausse, who revealed that, given the anxiety of the author of “La fiesta del chivo “, among other works, he already told him that he cannot “perform miracles” to speed up his income.
“They just chose him. He has to prepare his speech, and the person who receives it has to prepare his. That takes time. But he is very interested. He is a little impatient,” explained the head of the French Academy to the AFP news agency.
On November 25, Vargas Llosa, 85, was chosen to be part of the institution and the designation is a historic milestone: it is the first time that an author who does not write in the French language will enter that institution founded in 1635 .
Now, shortly after the entry is finalized, the author of “La fiesta del chivo”, “Conversaciones en la Catedral” and “La ciudad y los perro” -novels that form part of a prolific oeuvre with a variety of genres that includes story, novel, essay, play, and autobiography – feel anxious.
“He always asks us to send him things, he visits the website, he sends us comments permanently. He is passionate about this new intellectual adventure,” said Carrère d’Encausse, a 92-year-old historian who holds the permanent secretariat of the Academy and which, according to the official definition of his position, is perpetual.
Vargas Llosa’s haste to seal his entry occurs within the framework of the rigid protocol of the institution founded by Cardinal Richelieu. The document establishes that the new members are received during a ceremony behind closed doors, in which the candidate reads his speech and an academic “host” answers him.
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“I have already told you that I cannot perform miracles. He writes; he is not one to rest on his laurels. He is interested, and he thinks that he is not fast enough, especially in today’s world. But in today’s world, in in which there is no longer anything fixed, institutions are something fundamental”, reasoned the academic about the times of the process that worry the winner of the 2010 Nobel Prize.
Vargas Llosa, considered the last representative of the Latin American literary “boom”, has been a member of the Royal Academy of the Spanish Language since 1994. And although he speaks French fluently, after living for a few years in Paris in the early 1960s, his admission to the institution was the center of a controversy.
Days after the news of his entry became known, a group of intellectuals signed a petition in the Libération newspaper, a well-known left-wing publication in which a large part of the social and political debates in France take place. There, the signatories – among whom are the university professor César Itier, the research director of the Development Research Institute (IRD) Evelyne Mesclier, the professor at the University of Paris Valérie Robin Azevedo, the researcher Sylvie Taussig and the anthropologist Pablo del Valle – question the role of the Peruvian writer in Latin American political debates, his positions always close to the anti-democratic right and his participation in the so-called “Pandora papers”, where it was revealed that he had companies in tax havens to evade taxes.
In the text, they consider that including him in the Academy “tarnishes the image of France in Latin America, where its extremist positions are well known and arouse strong rejection” and that his inclusion among the defenders of the language “threatens to legitimize positions that trample the values of democracy to which France wants to be associated, such as freedom of expression, acceptance of voting results and the right to defend causes without risking losing one’s life”, they add at the end of the request.
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Vargas Llosa, impatient and eager to enter the French Academy