(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

The Feast of the Goat has two narrative strands: one set during the time leading up to Trujillo’s assassination and the other set more than thirty years later and focusing on Urania Cabral, a middle-aged businesswoman who remembers her youth under the Trujillo regime. Now living in the United States, Urania returns to Santo Domingo, the capital city that during Trujillo’s administration was renamed Ciudad Trujillo after the dictator. Urania’s trip leads her into reveries and evocations of the traumatic political past of her youth. Her father had been a confidante of Trujillo’s, and his collusion with the dictator led to Urania’s sexual abuse.

As an adult, Urania is celibate and lonely, despite being professionally accomplished. This sexlessness contrasts with the fervid sexual power of many of Vargas Llosa’s other heroines, such as Jurema in The War of the End of the World or the title character in Travesuras de la niña mala (2006; The Bad Girl, 2007), as well as the more creative ebullience of Flora Tristan in El paraíso en la otra esquina (2003; The Way to Paradise, 2003). Vargas Llosa has often linked the sexuality in his work to the twentieth century French thinker Georges Bataille’s ideas of excess and expenditure; in contrast, Urania’s asexuality indicates a certain vacancy in her consciousness that still enables it to operate in a keen, observant fashion.

Urania is the muse of...

(The entire section is 532 words.)