Mario Vargas Llosa (Arequipa, Peru, 1936) laughs energetically at many points in the conversation.
His laughter is sonorous and enveloping, the kind that unintentionally spreads.
Two months ago, the coronavirus chained him to a hospital bed, but he is fully recovered.
At 86 years old, the Nobel Prize does not stop.
In April he published an essay on Pérez Galdós, he has just returned from the Buenos Aires Book Fair and is already planning his next novel.
What is most surprising, however, is the lucidity that he maintains when revisiting the past.
“In all the countries in which I have lived: France, England, Spain…, I have tried to find myself at home linking myself to his books.
Thanks to this I have never felt like a foreigner”, he explains in the video of this new episode of
In the library of
With such a nomadic and exciting life, Vargas Llosa's personal library is spread over half the world.
In his apartment in Paris, where he finished writing
The City and the Dogs
, he keeps some of the French classics that most marked him in his early years.
To the public library that bears his name in Arequipa —where all his books will end up when he is gone—, he has given away some 20,000.
The jewel in the crown is in the center of Madrid.
On this bright and spacious floor, he has built one of his most extensive and complete libraries.
Spread over several rooms and a basement, there he keeps some of his most precious books.
Among them, the first edition of
“I am very excited to know that Flaubert, whom I admire so much, could have played it.
I know what I want in life thanks to him”, he comments excitedly while running his finger over the year of publication.
Vargas Llosa frequently reads theater and likes to have books on politics, history and philosophy near the glass table where he works without a computer and surrounded by his iconic figures of hippos.
He, who as a young man played Cyrano de Bergerac by writing the letters that his colleagues from the military college sent to their girlfriends, has a large collection of poems: Góngora, Miguel Hernández, Lorca… “I also started writing poetry, although at first I thought that in Peru it did not make sense to dedicate oneself to literature.
When I learned to read at the age of five, I remember how the world expanded and my life was enriched.
I have never lost that feeling.
Who is the writer that Vargas Llosa has reread the most?
And the novel that definitively awakened his literary vocation at the Leoncio Prado Military College?
Why did Gustave Flaubert's work show him the kind of writer he wanted to be?
What are his essential novels?
How is his library organized?
What book that appears in
defends and vindicates?
Mario Vargas Llosa reflects on these and other issues in this interview at his library in Madrid.