Emory Report
March 20, 2006
Volume 58, Number 23


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March 20 , 2006
Peruvian writer to deliver Ellmann Lectures, April 2–4

BY Michael terrazas

When Peruvian author and man of letters Mario Vargas Llosa visits campus April 2–4 to deliver the biennial Richard A. Ellmann Lectures in Modern Literature, he will focus his three addresses on three great Spanish and Latin writers.

Vargas Llosa himself is a luminary in contemporary Latin American literature, perhaps second only to Gabriél García Marquéz in worldwide recognition. But for his first lecture, the Peruvian novelist will tackle the best-known work by the best-known Spanish author in history when he speaks on “Cervantes and Don Quixote,” Sunday, April 2, at 4 p.m. in Glenn Auditorium.

The following two lectures—“Jorge Luís Borges, Today,” on Monday, April 3, at 8:15 p.m.; and “Ortega y Gasset and The Revolt of the Masses,” on Tuesday, April 4, at 4 p.m., both in Glenn—focus on 20th century writers from Argentina and Spain, respectively. All three of Vargas Llosa’s subjects share something in common with the speaker: Each produces work colored by political commentary.

Indeed, Vargas Llosa, 70, not only writes about politics—he participates. In 1990, he ran for Peru’s presidency against Alberto Fujimori, an engineer of Japanese descent who eventually fled the country in disgrace after his administration became mired in corruption and scandal. In a reading group of graduate students formed in anticipation of Vargas Llosa’s visit, the political/cultural angle to his work has attracted students outside of literature.

“It’s quite an interesting group; we have students from Latin American studies backgrounds who knew a lot more about the context out of which Vargas Llosa was writing and who can contribute to some of the more historical and cultural parts of the conversation,” said English doctoral student Katy Crowther, who organized the groups and is helping to coordinate the author’s visit.

Crowther’s group has met twice, and will meet once more before the Ellmann Lectures. On March 29 at 7 p.m., the group will discuss Vargas Llosa’s Death in the Andes (1993).

“It’s also helpful to have students who have read or could read the books in Spanish and help with things that might have been lost in translation,” said Crowther, who herself specializes in 19th century Victorian literature. “That’s always a fascinating moment.”

When Salman Rushdie delivered the last Ellmann Lectures in fall 2004, he spoke broadly about literary traditions across a range of authors. But Ron Schuchard, Goodrich C. White Professor of English and director of the Ellmann series, said past lecturers such as Helen Vindler have focused on particular authors and/or works, much like Vargas Llosa plans to do. Schuchard said he has not had a chance to speak personally with
Vargas Llosa yet, but he eagerly awaits the author’s visit.

“With people like this, you almost feel you know them as soon as you see them,” Schuchard said. “I’ve been anticipating his arrival so much and reading about him that I feel like I’ve known him all my life.”

A public reception on the Glenn Auditorium lawn will follow the April 2 lecture. In addition to his lectures, Vargas Llosa will give a public reading and book signing, Tuesday, April 4, at 8:15 p.m. in Glenn. All events are free and open to the public. For more information, contact Schuchard at 404-727-7985 or e-mail engrs@emory.edu. For information about the reading group, e-mail Crowther at kcrowth@learnlink.emory.edu.