Captain Pantoja and the Special Service (Magill's Literary Annual 1979)
This excellent translation of the 1973 novel Pantoja y las visitadoras is a significant contribution to the substantial body of Hispanic fiction that has been made available in English in recent years. Mario Vargas Llosa is not as well known in this country as some other contemporary Latin American prose writers, such as Gabriel García Márquez, Carlos Fuentes, and Julio Cortázar. The publication of this translation should enhance his reputation among English-speaking audiences.
Captain Pantoja and the Special Service presents clear evidence that Vargas Llosa is very much a part of the Latin American group, for there are many similarities between his approach to the creation of a fictional world and theirs. His experimentation with narrative techniques is reminiscent of Carlos Fuentes’ in The Death of Artemio Cruz and of Manuel Puig’s in Heartbreak Tango. Much of the storytelling is developed through a montage of letters, official communiques, and news reports reproduced verbatim with annotations by the correspondents of those documents. When the narrator does speak, his voice is objective and his role is limited to presenting the dialogue without commentary. He always speaks in the present tense, and constructs a broad view of concurrent happenings by moving freely within a passage from one set of characters...
(The entire section is 1811 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1979)
Booklist. LXXIV, January 1, 1978, p. 732.
Library Journal. CIII, February 1, 1978, p. 387.
Nation. CCXXVI, April 1, 1978, p. 377.
New Republic. CLXXVII, May 20, 1978, p. 36.
New York Times Book Review. April 9, 1978, p. 11.
Saturday Review. V, February 4, 1978, p. 32.
(The entire section is 30 words.)