Mario Vargas Llosa Additional Biography


(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Jorge Mario Pedro Vargas Llosa was born in Arequipa, Peru, in March of 1936. As a child, he endured an unstable family life, his mother compensating for his having been abandoned by his father. The family moved to Bolivia and later to Piura, a city in northern Peru that would later figure importantly in The Green House and in Captain Pantoja and the Special Service. Eventually, they moved to Lima, where Vargas Llosa was enrolled in the Leoncio Prado Military Academy. The trauma related to his schooling at this military institution found its later expression in Vargas Llosa’s first novel, The Time of the Hero.

In 1951, Vargas Llosa began to work for the newspaper La crónica; he would later employ his insight into the journalistic life in Conversation in the Cathedral, Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter, and The War of the End of the World. He studied at the San Miguel School in Piura, and the student strike that he organized there is reflected with unusual immediacy in his short story “Los jefes” (“The Leaders”). He participated more seriously in the literary milieu, collaborating on newspapers and literary magazines, and he, Luis Loayza, and Abelardo Oquendo edited the journals Cuadernos de composición and Literatura. He married Julia Urquidi and saved the delicious parody of his own romance for Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter.

The short story “El desafío” (“The Challenge”) earned for Vargas Llosa a trip to France in 1958. A scholarship to the University of Madrid gave him the opportunity to study the novel of chivalry, prototype of the modern novel, a form that has continued to interest him. After his collection The Cubs, and Other Stories was published in Barcelona in 1959, Vargas Llosa returned to Paris. He completed the first draft of The Time of the Hero while he was working at Berlitz, at Agence France-Presse, and at the French Radio-Television Network (ORTF). His work for the ORTF provided the necessary entrée to the many Latin American writers in Paris, where Vargas Llosa met Julio Cortázar, Jorge Luis Borges, and Carlos Fuentes; it also took him to Cuba, where he met Carlos Barral, whose publishing house in Barcelona would...

(The entire section is 931 words.)


(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Jorge Mario Pedro Vargas Llosa (VAHR-guhs YOH-sah) was born in Arequipa, Peru, on March 28, 1936, the son of Ernesto Vargas Maldonado and Dora Llosa Ureta. His parents, who separated before he was born, divorced shortly after, and his mother took him to Cochabamba, Bolivia, where he lived until the age of ten, attending Colegio La Salle. In 1946, his parents sent him to a parochial school, the life of which he portrayed in Los cachorros (1967; The Cubs, in The Cubs, and Other Stories, 1979), a novella. His father, alarmed at Mario’s desire to become a writer, decided to enroll him in the Leoncio Prado, a Peruvian government military boarding school, which he attended from 1950 to 1952. At this institution, he was exposed to a brutal reality that marked him to the core. Vargas Llosa transposed his experiences in the Leoncio Prado in his novel La ciudad y los perros (1962; The Time of the Hero, 1966), the publication of which provoked a serious official reaction in Peru. After his two years in the Leoncio Prado, Vargas Llosa completed high school in Piura, where he instigated student unrest and a strike that later served as the basis for his short story “Los jefes” (“The Leaders”). This short narrative won him the Leopoldo Alas Prize in Spain.

In 1953, Vargas Llosa enrolled in the School of Law at San Marcos University in Lima. He became an advocate of socialist causes while studying at San Marcos, although communist ideology turned out to be disappointing to him. In 1955, when he was nineteen years old, he married Julia Urquidi, one of his uncle’s sisters-in-law. The economic pressures brought about by his marriage were magnificently re-created in his novel La tía Julia y el escribidor (1977; Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter, 1982).

By 1957, Vargas Llosa’s short stories were appearing in journals and newspapers, and he was the editor of several literary journals. In 1958, his short narrative “El desafio” (the challenge) won first place in a competition sponsored by the French journal La Revue française, and he traveled to Paris. At this time, he also traveled through the Peruvian Amazon jungle along the upper Marañón River, which gave him culture shock but also gave him insight into the lives of the inhabitants of that remote area. His second novel, La casa verde (1965; The Green House, 1968), and El hablador (1987; The Storyteller, 1989) reflect the observations made during this and another expedition to the jungle in 1964.

In 1958, he obtained a scholarship to the University of Madrid, Spain. Eventually, he completed a doctoral dissertation on Gabriel García Márquez, an outstanding Latin American writer of his generation, who would...

(The entire section is 1144 words.)


(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Mario Vargas Llosa is one of the most prominent and prolific writers of the literary “boom” in Latin America. His works demonstrate that he has successfully developed a great variety of themes. Social injustice, political oppression that brings about societal decadence, the abuse of human beings, the creative act of writing, the dangers of fanaticism and of utopias, and the intrinsic value found in primitive cultures are some of his major preoccupations. He sees the mission of the Latin American writer as one of a spiritual nature, through which life may become better for all.


(Short Stories for Students)

Mario Vargas Llosa was born on March 28, 1936, in Arequipa, Peru. His family was well to do, and when his parents separated shortly after his...

(The entire section is 488 words.)


(Literature of Developing Nations for Students)

Although born in Arequipa, Peru, in 1936, Vargas Llosa spent his early boyhood with his mother, Dora Llosa Ureta, in Cochabamba, Bolivia,...

(The entire section is 495 words.)