Mario Vargas Llosa is the 2008 recipient of The Harold and Ethel L. Stellfox Visiting Scholars and Writers Program award

“We’d best be what we are. The one who gives up fulfilling his own obligation so as to fulfill that of another will lose his soul.”

Passage from Mario Vargas Llosa’s
The Storyteller, 1987

12–03–2008
Book-signing
Whistlestop Bookshop
4 p.m. Free admission

An Evening with Mario
Vargas Llosa
Anita Tuvin Schlechter (ATS) auditorium
7 p.m.  Free admission

12–04–2008
Lecture
Rubendall Recital Hall,
Weiss Center for the Arts
Noon. Free admission

mario11
Jorge Mario Pedro Vargas Llosa, a Peruvian novelist, playwright, essayist, journalist and literary critic, is the 2008 recipient of The Harold and Ethel L. Stellfox Visiting Scholars and Writers Program award. Vargas Llosa is one of Spanish America’s most significant novelists and essayists, and one of the leading authors of his generation. Some critics consider him to have had a larger international impact and worldwide audience than any other writer of the Spanish American Boom.

Vargas Llosa rose to fame in the 1960s with novels such as The Time of the Hero (1963), The Green House (1965), and the monumental Conversation in the Cathedral (1969). He continues to write prolifically across an array of literary genres, including literary criticism and journalism. His novels include comedies, murder mysteries, historical novels, and political thrillers. Several, such as Captain Pantoja and the Special Service (1973/1978) and Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter (1977), have been adapted as feature films.

Like many Spanish American authors, Vargas Llosa has been politically active throughout his career; over the course of his life, he has gradually moved from the political left towards the right. While he initially supported the Cuban revolutionary government of Fidel Castro, Vargas Llosa later became disenchanted. He ran for the Peruvian presidency in 1990 with the center-right Frente Democrático (FREDEMO) coalition, advocating neoliberal reforms.

Bio sketch taken from Wikipedia

2003-04, while the German writer Michael Augustin spent a year at Dickinson College as the Kade Writer-in-Residence, coincided with the creation of the international and multilingual journal of poetry and art entitled Sirena: Poetry, Art and Criticism. This period of time also coincided with the writing of an important series of poems by German poet Günter Kunert, entitled Der Alte Mann (The Old Man). As Kunert was writing his poems, one by one, he faxed them to Michael Augustin and we would work on the translations into English and Spanish with Michael and his wife, Sujata Bhatt, to publish a few of them in Sirena. Kunert’s poems, consequently, appeared first as a publication in Sirena and then in book format. In 2005, Michael Augustin and myself visited the poet in his home, and he gave us permission and the rights to translate the entire book into Spanish for publication.

It wasn’t until now that we had been able to make some progress with this beautiful project. In 2007, the Irish publishing house Coiséim published a trilingual edition (German, English, Irish); we hope that our Spanish edition soon will become available to all. Until then, for the interested reader, here’s a sample of these translation:

El viejo a la medianoche

El viejo
a la medianoche conversa
con los fantasmas
de su pasado: por un momento éstos
se escapan del empapelado
de la pared. El viejo no esperaba
que esas apariciones
fuesen tan breves.

El viejo apunta

El viejo apunta:
hoy olvidé
masturbarme. Mi mente
sigue viva. Envejeces y
continúas envejeciendo.
Bendito sea
aquél que olvida
lo que ya no importa.

El período comprendido entre 2003 y 2004, durante la estadía como escritor en residencia de la fundación Kade, en Dickinson College, del escritor alemán Michael Augustin, coincidió con la creación de la revista internacional y multilingüe titulada Sirena: Poesía, arte y crítica. A la vez, el poeta alemán Günter Kunert escribía una importante serie de poemas titulados Der Alte Mann (El viejo). A medida que Kunert componía los poemas, uno a uno los mandaba por fax a Michael Augustin y juntos los traducíamos al inglés y al castellano – con la ayuda de la esposa de Michael, Sujata Bhatt – a fin de ser editados en Sirena. Algunos de estos poemas, consiguientemente, fueron editados primero en Sirena y luego en forma de libro. En el 2006 Michael y yo visitamos al poeta en su casa y éste nos dio la autorización y los derechos de traducir y publicar la serie completa en traducción al castellano.

No ha sido hasta ahora que hemos podido lograr algún progreso en este proyecto tan bonito. En 2007 la casa editorial irlandesa Coiséim publicó estos poemas en una edición trilingüe (alemán, inglés, e irlandés); esperemos que muy pronto nuestra edición castellana vea la luz también. Hasta entonces, he aquí, para el lector interesado, un par de traducciones:

El viejo a la medianoche

El viejo
a la medianoche conversa
con los fantasmas
de su pasado: por un momento éstos
se escapan del empapelado
de la pared. El viejo no esperaba
que esas apariciones
fuesen tan breves.

El viejo apunta

El viejo apunta:
hoy olvidé
masturbarme. Mi mente
sigue viva. Envejeces y
continúas envejeciendo.
Bendito sea
aquél que olvida
lo que ya no importa.

Every day new souls kept springing up beside the host of old ones, making clamorous demands and creating confusion; and now I saw as clearly as in a picture what an illusion my former personality had been. The few capacities and pursuits in which I had happened to be strong had occupied all my attention, and I had painted a picture of myself as a person who was in fact nothing more than a most refined and educated specialist in poetry, music and philosophy; and as such I had lived, leaving all the rest of me to be a chaos of potentialities, instincts and impulses which I found an encumbrance and gave label of Steppenwolf.

Steppenwolf
- Herman Hesse

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