Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Juicy Literary News

The Independent has a nice and detailed report on the long feud between between two latin American literary greats, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Mario Vargas Llosa. There was some news a couple of months ago saying that they have made up and that Llosa was going to write a foreword to the new edition of One Hundred Years of Solitude but things are not so simple it seems. The article also has some juicy details:

Mario had an eye for the ladies. First, at the age of just 19, he married his uncle's sister-in-law, Julia, who was 13 years his senior. The marriage was not a success, save that it gave the young author the subject for his barely disguised autobiographical work Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter. The year after they divorced, Mario married his first cousin Patricia, with whom he has three children.

But Mario strayed. He fell in love with a beautiful Swedish air stewardess whom he met while travelling. He left his wife and moved to Stockholm.

Distraught, his wife Patricia went to see her husband's best friend, Gabriel. After discussing the matter with his wife, Mercedes, he advised Patricia to divorce Mario. And then he consoled her. No one else quite knows what form this consolation took.

According to sources close to the Colombian, he told her that she should leave her husband, if he returned," Saldivar writes.

Other sources close to the Peruvian say that on the same night, Marquez committed the worst (or best) kind of treason towards his friend Vargas Llosa. But eventually Mario returned to his wife, who told him of Gabriel's advice to her, and of his consolation.


The Times has another report with a great headline, "Two giants of literature, one black eye and 30 years of silence."

In case you are curious about the "black eye" in question, Bhupinder has a picture of a beaming Marquez. Another photo, this time glum, here.

links via complete review which also says that Llosa is working on a new pornographic novel. He has written a couple in the past too, In Praise of Stepmother and its sequel The Notebooks of Don Rigoberto. I have read the former and it is quite good.

12 comments:

bhupinder said...

Thanks for the news. I think it only strengthens the image of Gabo- as an innocently steadfast man, and Llosa, more intelligent, but opportunistic.

Alok said...

Haha. Yes, but still nobody knows what really happened between Marquez and Llosa's wife :)

Szerelem said...

I knew about the feud, but the articles provides interesting details.
I haven't read Llosa. Have The Feast of the Goat on my table, so hopefully will start on that soon.
I don't agree with his politics though. But then again I don't agree with all of Marquez's either.

Alok said...

Feast of the Goat is quite good though brutal and disturbing at places. One of my favourite of his book is Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter, very romantic and very, very funny.

reg politics, I think both of them are more complex in their politics than is generally reported in the media. I was just reading somewhere Marquez saved the life of many dissidents and artists in Cuba through his influence and Llosa also has complicated views on Iraq war for example.

KUBLA KHAN said...

alok: havent you felt that the prose works of llosa lack the beauty and subtleness of other more contemporary writers?
i have read two of his novels.....the end of the world and some other book.....i liked them but felt that they were quite tedious.....
on the other hand, marquez writes lilting prose, the beginning of love in the time of cholera for instance.
perhaps, the styles reflect the men, their views etc....i think they both are famous, perhaps too famous than other brilliant latin american writers worldwide...is it the reflection of a bias, a critical one on the part of critics.....
i get such thoughts often, but.....

Alok said...

I will generally agree with you that Llosa's language is pretty straightforward, though he does play around with narrative, time sequence and plot a lot and manages to bring in multiple perspectives in the same novel. I love his War of the End of the World very much. It sure is a little old fashioned in its style and structure -- those big nineteenth century novels -- but it also creates a fantastic sense of place and brings an obscure (at least for people not from that place) historical event alive with an analysis which has a lot of contemporary significance, specially the way we think about religion and progress.

What I like most of latin american writers is this sense of place, sense of a shared culture, beliefs, past and history and not so much a concern with the individual and his psychology. even when they write about individual characters, it is only in a wider cultural context. some may call it ethnography and not literature but I don't agree. again my reading has been very limited and they may not reflect the complexities of latin american literature but this is what I feel.

KUBLA KHAN said...

YES, you are right about the psychology thing in latin american fiction.in contemporary or recent and past so called western lit., there is a shadow of too much id, oedipus etc....as if this sort of thing cd not have existed before.
there is too much emphasis on things freudian, which in an unfreudian age like this seems boring.the emphasis on everything greek , with too much Homerian and less and less existential has shaded good literature into poor babble. and even most philosophy but NOT french(with exceptions) has been plagued with this malaise.
latin american fiction thrives on not the psyche but the action, which is uplifting.

Alok said...

It is also about the difference between modern and pre-modern societies. Unlike the west, in the third world the traditions and the community still have a strong hold on individual psyche (in general) and it is reflected in their literature too. In fact magical realism is nothing but an expression of this "mythical" consciousness. This is also why it is comparatively rare to encounter alienation, existential angst, isolation (and other by-products of modernity) which are the main themes of modern western literature, in literatures of the third world.

Of course this is a broad generalization and things are changing a lot too...

Antonia said...

what other brilliant latin american writes do you mean, Kubla? (I entirely agree with your judgement on Llosa, he is way overestimated.)

bhupinder said...

Kubla Khan: I'd say that Llosa's quality is rather uneven. His experimentalism is superb, and I just have to give him 10 out of 10 at places- The Real Life of Alejandro Mayta, The Storyteller. The War of the End of the World has very little technical innovation but still is a great novel in the tradition of the 19th century novel.

Some others, like, Aunt Julia, Feast of the Goat, The Way to Paradise, A Time of the Hero, in Praise of Stepmother are reasonably good. Captain Pantoja is passable. Who Killed Palomino Molero? and is ridiculous. I found Diaries of Rigoberto unreadable.

I have admired Llosa despite his ideas, as Sub Commandante Marcos once put it in an interview with Gabo.

I am not too sure if Llosa's political ideas are complicated, or just confused. Sometimes I feel it is just his ego and his desire to be different from Garcia Marquez.

KUBLA KHAN said...

alok: you are right about magic realism. this seems a fancy term for what most middle eastern literature, and other asian literature had already achieved.
antonia:by other brilliant writers i meant....Manuel puig, Mempo giardenelli, Julio cortazar and so on. i have had the good fortune of reading them all....and even great writing seems a cheap term to signify their work.
bhupinder:Llosa's work lacks verve. but to be fair to him, he takes sides in politics, making his position quite apparent. i forget the novel about the shining path movement. there is no allegory in that book. well written and taut, it is like a piece of journalism.
yes, taut is the word for his prose.it lacks music. political fiction without music supported by words is like a lifeless heart. dead.

Antonia said...

I am not so familiar with latin american authors in general, but cortazar is great.