In his acceptance speech as winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, entitled In Praise of Reading and Fiction, (*) Peruvian writer Vargas Llosa paid tribute to his mother, his grandfather Pedro and his uncle Lucho.
It was, however, his wife Patricia who made the literary figure's voice tremble, and won applause from the audience, when he said that he had the good fortune to marry her 45 years ago, and that she is so generous that even when she bawls him out she does it with the utmost praise: Mario, the only thing you're good for is writing.
And indeed it was his skill at storytelling that won him the sought-after prize, which this Friday he will receive from the hands of King Carl Gustaf of Sweden, all due, he said, to his stubbornness and a little luck, and the fact that it became a passion if not a vice.
In his speech at the main auditorium of the Swedish Academy Vargas Llosa praised reading as “the most important thing” he has ever done, and literature, which unites us without regard for languages, beliefs, habits, customs or prejudices.
He then praised fiction to the point of saying that it is indispensable if civilization is to continue to exist
The author said it is as important for him to read - a pursuit that brings dreams to life and life to our dreams - as it is for him to write.
Without fiction, man would be less aware of the importance of freedom if life is to be livable, and of the hell it becomes when taken over by a tyrant, an ideology or a religion, Vargas Llosa said.
He expressed gratitude for the secrets revealed to him by Flaubert, Faulkner, Cervantes, Dickens, Tolstoy, Thomas Mann and Sartre. If I could bring together with this speech all the writers to whom I owe a little or a lot, their shadows would plunge us in darkness, he said.
He also gave thanks for the contribution of Spain, his adopted country, represented by Culture Minister Angeles Gonzalez-Sinde.
All his books have been published in that country, where he has received, in his opinion, exaggerated recognition. To France he attributed not only unforgettable literary learning, but also his discovery of Latin America.
There I discovered Peru, said the author of The War of the End of the World, who considered that living outside his country for a time has strengthened his ties with it, providing a clearer perspective and deepening my nostalgia, which knows the difference between description and substance and keeps my memories echoing forever.
Among the crowd in the auditorium giving the writer resounding applause were Peru's Culture Minister Juan Ossio, the director of Spain's Cervantes Institute, Carmen Cafarell, and members of the diplomatic community
(*) The full speech can be enjoyed at Nobelprize.org