Andrea's Reviews > Death in the Andes

Death in the Andes by Mario Vargas Llosa
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Jun 22, 2008

really liked it
Read in November, 2011

I have enjoyed everything I have read by Vargas Llosa, so I am biased. This was a great read, I didn't want to put it down. I was quite surprised that it had a (relatively) happy ending, considering the whole novel is about the death and destruction brought on by terrorism and corrupt government.

I first read this novel in Spanish in June 2008. Three years later, I am reading it in English, planning to teach it in a freshman seminar, and trying to read it through the eyes of an 18-year-old.

This time around, the novel seemed more vulgar (I guess the English words are more shocking to me than the Spanish), and Lituma less likeable. I still loved Tomás and his storytelling, and I still found this to be a masterfully written novel. But I was much more attentive to the misogynistic and racist language characteristic of Vargas Llosa's works. My love-hate relationship with him continues: I love everything he writes (above all, I love a well-told story) but I hate the blatant racism, elitism, misogyny, etc., that fill his pages.

Read for the third time in Spanish, with a group of Spanish majors. Blown away again by Vargas Llosa, this time because I paid more attention to the numerous narrative voices that are woven together to tell this story. I don't understand why this novel is not more widely read. Despite my own issues with his ideology, he is undoubtedly a master of language, character development, and stylistic experimentation. In fact, I am tempted to give the novel five stars this time!

Read again in English and Spanish with students who don't understand how amazing this novel is. Frustrating. Also frustrating to reread all the horrifically racist descriptions of the serranos. Lots of emotions this time!
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Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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Linda Abhors the New GR Design I teach Spanish as well. Am interested in what made you think of it as a Freshmen Seminar choice? Just curious, wonder if I should suggest it as well.

Andrea I designed a freshman seminar on LA Nobel prize winners (in translation). Readings include this novel, One Hundred Years of Solitude, Mirror of Lida Sal, Sons of la Malinche, and poetry by Neruda and Mistral. The objective of the course is to identify and analyze the ways in which the authors represent racial and national identity.

Linda Abhors the New GR Design Interesting! Great! I have one colleague in English who's always looking for ways to shake up the reading list. Depending on what happens with our core revision, I might wind up teaching a portal myself. Thanks so much for the feedback!
I'll give you one that's (still not really) well known, my kids just love it--Sepulveda's "Un viejo que leia novelas de amor" Precious. Simple (complex vocab, but someone's done a great wikispace), yet has several layers, poignant, and it touches upon identity and exile. Only about 135 pages. It's been getting more attention of late.

Aldo Ramírez Dear Andrea, indeed MVLL is a liberal, he supports abortion, gay marriage, etc. He describes characters and these characters coming from Latin America societies were (and still are) machist, misogynistic and racist, his deep critic to our societies has meant many enemies for him. I don't really think he supports any idea in his books, he describes many kinds of characters (compare Lituma to Don Rigoberto and you'll see two opposite guys), he always post questions never answers. If you can read "In Praise to the stepmother", "The notebooks of Don Rigoberto" and even "The bad girl" and you'll see how everything changes regarding to this particular novel. Best

Linda Abhors the New GR Design Andrea, when you have them read it in Spanish, how many novels do you get through per semester?

Andrea In this course, they read three novels, a handful of short stories, another handful of articles, a few poems, and watch three films. I don't think they appreciate my thoroughness... But my approach is to stuff them with primary materials and try to get them to focus on recurring themes, techniques, etc, rather than get lost in the details.

Linda Abhors the New GR Design Andrea wrote: "In this course, they read three novels, a handful of short stories, another handful of articles, a few poems, and watch three films. I don't think they appreciate my thoroughness... But my approach..."

Wow, a lot! We have them three hours a week. In the survey course, it's hard to get them through the anthology (Modernism forward) and a novel of 135. I can get them to do about 15 pp per class (we meet three times a week), or 50 if we meet once a week. Is this undergrad?

I thought about using this one for a course but just couldn't find the way to chop it up that made me happy.

No, thoroughness is something they won't appreciate, among other things...:(

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