El fuego de la imaginación / The Fire of the Imagination
Journalistic Work , 2022
What does Mario Vargas Llosa read? Why did he become a writer? What is his conception of the art of fiction? What books have marked his life?
Culture is the protagonist of El fuego de la imaginación, the first volume of Mario Vargas Llosa's journalistic work, organised into themes. In its pages the reader will find invaluable reflections on the profession of writing and the literary vocation, as well as a vast number of reviews – devoted to literature, cinema, theatre, art, architecture, alongside recommendations and passionate readings, with the focus on Latin American, French and English literature.
There is an abundance of classic authors, including Flaubert, Balzac, Tolstoy, Dickens, Kafka and Faulkner, and contemporary ones too, such as J. M. Coetzee, Svetlana Alexiévich and Michel Houellebecq. In fact, the list is endless: Carmen Laforet, Romain Gary, Irène Némirovsky, George Orwell, Susan Sontag, Arthur Koestler, Laurent Binet, Stieg Larsson and a long et cetera of other authors, where Vargas Llosa, in his prominent role as a critic, transmits his enthusiasm for reading. On more than one occasion he has affirmed that learning to read was the most important thing that ever happened to him in his life.
“These are reflections that have matured throughout a life devoted to reading novels and contemplating art, theatre and cinema. They also constitute a comprehensive formulation of the human condition.” —From the foreword by Carlos Granés (The Fire of the Imagination)
“His books contain the most intricate, passionate, and persuasive vision of the novel and the novelist's craft that I am aware of; they also contain the greatest inspiration that a novelist can find to write, an inspiration second only to the one found within Vargas Llosa's own novels.” Javier Cercas, El País
“The unyielding independence of judgment, personal criteria, the accumulation of experiences, and Vargas Llosa's extensive readings transform this work into a sort of literarized biography, a vital GPS, the raw material for his novels.” Culturas, La Vanguardia
“An outstanding lesson from a great reader.” Babelia, El País
“Much like Rayuela (Hopscotch), Julio Cortázar's masterpiece, The Fire of the Imagination is, in its own way, many books.” ABC