Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter (Magill's Literary Annual 1983)
For about twenty years, the dreadful announcement that “the novel is dead” has been made with monotonous regularity, yet the corpse seems to be in good health, at least in Latin American narrative. A number of Latin American novelists—Mario Vargas Llosa prominent among them—have employed the self-conscious devices of metafiction in such a vital way that what in other writers is merely clever contrivance becomes, in their hands, humane, sympathetic, even humorous, appealing to the senses, the emotions, and the intellect alike.
Vargas Llosa’s Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter is unquestionably a metafiction—a fiction about fiction—and yet, like many contemporary Latin American novels, it escapes from the dead-end in which so many works in that genre are trapped. If literature has exhausted its possibilities so that it has to turn to itself to find a subject, Latin American writers still have the power to make of that very exhaustion a vehicle for an adventure of the human intellect, a means to tell a story. This has been the primary end of fiction from time immemorial, and now, even as the death of the novel is being proclaimed, Latin American writers show that they are still, above all, storytellers.
Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter is divided into twenty chapters, of which the odd ones tell the...
(The entire section is 1937 words.)
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Bibliography (Masterplots II: American Fiction Series, Revised Edition)
Booker, M. Keith. Vargas Llosa Among the Postmodernists. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1994. A thorough examination of Vargas Llosa’s works from a postmodern point of view. Includes a comparison between Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter and Italo Calvino’s If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler.
Castro-Klarén, Sara. “Mario Vargas Llosa.” In Latin American Writers, edited by Carlos A. Solé and Maria I. Abreau. Vol 3. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1989. Offers a comprehensive and critical discussion of Vargas Llosa’s life and works. Provides a selected bibliography for further reading.
Dipple, Elizabeth. “Outside, Looking In: Aunt Julia and Vargas Llosa.” The Review of Contemporary Fiction 17 (Spring, 1997): 58-69. Dipple argues that Vargas Llosa’s The Storyteller and Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter are examples of the author’s tendency to separate reality and fiction, revealing that the main characters are a limited version of himself. However, Vargas Llosa believes that the representation of himself in his works is distorted by his own beliefs and obsessions.
Gerdes, Dick. “Mario Vargas Llosa.” In Spanish American Authors: The Twentieth Century, edited by Angel Flores. New York: H. W. Wilson, 1992. Profiles Vargas Llosa and...
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