SURCLA Seminar | The Politics of Style: Mario Vargas Llosa's La guerra del fin del mundo.
9 April, 2013
5.30 - 7.00pm
The Politics of Style: Mario Vargas Llosa's La guerra del fin del mundo.
Jeff Browitt, University of Technology, Sydney
Mario Vargas Llosa claims that his historical novel, La guerra del fin del mundo (1981), is his favourite. It is basically a re-writing of Euclides de Cunha's celebrated Os sertões (1902), about the infamous Canudos massacre of an idealistic, messianic community by the Brazilian army at the end of the nineteenth century in the newly-formed Brazilian republic. Notable literary critics of Latin American literature have hailed it is a masterpiece, a kind of Latin American War and Peace and a very ‘open’ text. I see it as neither. In fact after several readings and much analysis, I find the text to be quite ideologically closed and sermonistic, foundering on the political-philosophical contradictions at its core. In terms of its historical value, it is much less important than da Cunha's Os sertões, which is, in spite a definable coastal (liberal progressive) elite viewpoint that saw the inevitability and desirability of European modernization, remains an open text that asks a fundamental question about progress at all costs.
Jeff Browitt is the Head of the International Studies Program and Coordinator of the Mexico and Colombia Majors in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at UTS. In his research he has tracked the formation and function of literary writers as public intellectuals as well as the impact of modernity and nation-state formation on cultural products and processes in Latin American countries. He has published on cultural theory, Latin American popular culture, Colombian political economy and Latin American modernismo. Since 2000 he has specialised in contemporary Central American literature.
Location: Old Teacher's College Room 438