Urioste, José Castro () “Maria Vargas Llosa’s El hablador as a Discourse of Conquest,” Studies in 20th Century Literature: Vol. A peace prize given in to Mario Vargas Llosa by the German Book Trade and stories told by the other narrator of the text: the hablador (chapters 3, 5. In Mario Vargas Llosa’s El hablador,” Inti: Revista de literatura hispánica: No. anonymous narrator who is a Vargas Llosa persona and tells of an obsession.

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WhUe other Westerners—missionaries, anthropologists, traders —likewise penetrate remote zones and encounter other peoples, Mascarita goes further than they.

He not only adopts Machiguenga language and Machiguenga ways and beUefs, but also appears to have completely abandoned Western values and Western practices. Mascarita does not encounter the Other; he has become the Other. For Mascarita, as for Gregor Samsa, there is no going back on his metamorphosis. My comparison of Mascarita to Gregor Samsa is not arbitrary, for traces of Kafka’s text vaegas throughout El Hablador.

Before quitting the West for the Machiguengas, Mascarita had adopted Gregor Samsa as a fictional totem. Mascarita revered Kafka; he knew Die Verwandlung by heart and hablsdor to it repeatedly, employing its fictions to help articulate his own marginaUzed position as a Jew in a CathoUc world, as a man stigmatized by a lurid birthmark hence his nickname.


He has even named his parrot Gregor Samsa Rejecting a society that has rejected him, Mascarita develops an enthusiasm for so-called primitive cultures, cultures that he claims have not forever lost the capacity to Uve in harmony with nature, like Gregor Samsa’s “becoming-animal,” Mascarita’s “becoming-primitive” signifies a flight from an unauthentic existence.

Kafka’s tale has a further importance in El Hablador, as weU. StructuraUyVargas Llosa’s novel has a double-braided narrative, lllsa of two clearly distinct voices alternating chapter by chapter.

The first belongs to a Western narrator engaged in a project of systematic reminiscent narrative: The novel’s second voice belongs to an anonymous Machiguenga storyteller who weaves a long, strange, and shifting tale out of fragments of creation myth, tribal history, legend, helpful hints for planting and hunting, recipes for magic potions, news from afar, and a good bit ofthat speculation on the lives of neighbors we caU gossip.

As the Western narrative VcH. Hidden if not entirely forgotten, it resurfaces at the critical moment in the text where the two narrative strands converge.

El Hablador by Mario Vargas Llosa (2 star ratings)

The Machiguenga storyteller tells his listeners a tale we readers recognize as Kafka’s Verwandlung. His story follows Kafka’s only in its broadest contours: This man-bug, this Machiguenga-Westerner, suffers roughly the same fate as Gregor Samsa: Through this story we are able to solve the mystery of the Western narrator’s missing friend. Mascarita has not in fact been absent from the text, but his voice had been transformed to such a degree that we were unable to identify it.


Mascarita has been the Machiguenga storyteller from the outset. Vargas Llosa’s appropriation of Kafka’s Die Verwandlung raises a number ofinteresting questions, questions about the crossing ofcultures as weU as the crossing oftexts.

My aim here is to address these questions through a double reading: Project MUSE bargas the creation and dissemination of essential humanities and social science resources through collaboration with libraries, publishers, and scholars worldwide.

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The Storyteller by Mario Vargas Llosa

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