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The Dream of the Celt: A Novel Hardcover – June 5, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


In the star-studded world of the Latin American novel, Mario Vargas Llosa is a supernova. (Raymond Sokolov, The Wall Street Journal on Mario Vargas Llosa)

Vargas Llosa speaks in his own voice, sees through his own eyes. His vision is unique. His genius is unmistakable. (Eugenia Thornton, The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) on Mario Vargas Llosa)

The bold, dynamic and endlessly productive imagination of the Peruvian novelist Mario Vargas Llosa, one of the writing giants of our time, is something truly to be admired . . . As with any great writer, [he] makes us see clearly what we have been looking at all the while but never noticed. (Alan Cheuse, San Francisco Chronicle on Mario Vargas Llosa)

Generous in friendship, unfailingly curious about the world at large, tireless in his quest to probe the nature of the human animal, [Vargas Llosa] is a model writer for our times. (Marie Arana, The Washington Post on Mario Vargas Llosa)

[Vargas Llosa] is a worldly writer in the best sense of the word: intelligent, urbane, well-traveled, well-informed, cosmopolitan, free-thinking and free-speaking. (Merle Rubin, Los Angeles Times on Mario Vargas Llosa)

Mario Vargas Llosa has long been a literary adventurer of the very first order . . . [He], I am convinced, can tell us stories about anything and make them dance to his inventive rhythms. (Lisa Appignanesi, The Independent on Mario Vargas Llosa)

About the Author

Mario Vargas Llosa was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2010 "for his cartography of structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual's resistance, revolt, and defeat." Peru's foremost writer, he has been awarded the Cervantes Prize, the Spanish-speaking world's most distinguished literary honor, and the Jerusalem Prize. His many works include The Feast of the Goat, The Bad Girl, Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter, The War of the End of the World, and The Storyteller. He lives in London.

Edith Grossman has translated the works of the Nobel laureates Mario Vargas Llosa and Gabriel García Márquez, among others. One of the most important translators of Latin American fiction, her version of Miguel de Cervantes's Don Quixote is considered to be the finest translation of the Spanish masterpiece in the English language.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 1 edition (June 5, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780374143466
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374143466
  • ASIN: 0374143463
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #906,610 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

MARIO VARGAS LLOSA was born in Arequipa, Peru, in 1936. In 1958 he earned a scholarship to study in Madrid, and later he lived in Paris. His first story collection, The Cubs and Other Stories, was published in 1959. Vargas Llosa's reputation grew with the publication in 1963 of The Time of the Hero, a controversial novel about the politics of his country. The Peruvian military burned a thousand copies of the book. He continued to live abroad until 1980, returning to Lima just before the restoration of democratic rule.

A man of politics as well as literature, Vargas Llosa served as president of PEN International from 1977 to 1979, and headed the government commission to investigate the massacre of eight journalists in the Peruvian Andes in 1983.

Vargas Llosa has produced critical studies of García Márquez, Flaubert, Sartre, and Camus, and has written extensively on the roots of contemporary fiction. For his own work, he has received virtually every important international literary award. Vargas Llosa's works include The Green House (1968) and Conversation in the Cathedral (1975), about which Suzanne Jill Levine for The New York Times Book Review said: "With an ambition worthy of such masters of the 19th-century novel as Balzac, Dickens and Galdós, but with a technical skill that brings him closer to the heirs of Flaubert and Henry James . . . Mario Vargas Llosa has [created] one of the largest narrative efforts in contemporary Latin American letters." In 1982, Farrar, Straus and Giroux published Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter to broad critical acclaim. In 1984, FSG published the bestselling The War of the End of the World, winner of the Ritz Paris Hemingway Award. The Real Life of Alejandro Mayta was published in 1986. The Perpetual Orgy, Vargas Llosa's study of Flaubert and Madame Bovary, appeared in the winter of 1986, and a mystery, Who Killed Palomino Molero?, the year after. The Storyteller, a novel, was published to great acclaim in 1989. In 1990, FSG published In Praise of the Stepmother, also a bestseller. Of that novel, Dan Cryer wrote: "Mario Vargas Llosa is a writer of promethean authority, making outstanding fiction in whatever direction he turns" (Newsday).

In 1990, Vargas Llosa ran for the presidency of his native Peru. In 1994, FSG published his memoir, A Fish in the Water, in which he recorded his campaign experience. In 1994, Vargas Llosa was awarded the Cervantes Prize, the Spanish-speaking world's most distinguished literary honor, and, in 1995, the Jerusalem Prize, which is awarded to writers whose work expresses the idea of the freedom of the individual in society. In 1996, Death in the Andes, Vargas Llosa's next novel, was published to wide acclaim. Making Waves, a collection of his literary and political essays, was published in 1997; The Notebooks of Don Rigoberto, a novel, was published in 1998; The Feast of the Goat, which sold more than 400,000 copies in Spanish-language, was published in English in 2001; The Language of Passion, his most recent collection of nonfiction essays on politics and culture, was published by FSG in June 2003. The Way to Paradise, a novel, was published in November 2003; The Bad Girl, a novel, was published in the U.S. by FSG in October, 2007. His most recent novel, El Sueño del Celta, will be published in 2011 or 2012. Two works of nonfiction are planned for the near future as well.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 31 people found the following review helpful By John L Murphy TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 5, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
After a distinguished career with many historical novels exploring the human toll taken by political idealism, Mario Vargas Llosa follows his 2010 Nobel Prize for Literature with the lightly fictionalized life of Sir Roger Casement. Familiar more to Irish nationalists for his anti-slavery activism and his execution for actions which were judged traitorous to the British crown which had knighted him for his services as consul, Casement's reputation since his 1916 death after the failed Easter Rising has suffered. Before his hanging in a London prison, British intelligence released his "Black Diaries," full of not the humanitarianism which fueled his career uncovering the victims of the African and Amazonian rubber trades, but the "gloomy aureole of homosexuality and pedophilia" still debated from these fevered diaries as true, exaggerated, or invented--planted, grafted, or organic within the secret soul and clandestine identity of a lonely, driven Anglo-Irish activist for justice.

Situated often in Vargas Llosa's native Peru, where the core of this novel burrows into the depredations of colonialism owned by Britain and controlled by Peruvians far from the control of their capital or the law, the placement of Casement within late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century capitalism sharpens the author's portrayals of Latin Americans and Europeans complicit in raping the jungles, its women, and its resources. Vargas Llosa had run for president of his own struggling Third World nation; he shows a keen understanding of all sides in the debate over the fate of the "3 C's" of capitalism, colonialism, and Christianity.
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32 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Roger Brunyate TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 7, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In the middle of this long book by Mario Vargas Llosa, there is a surprisingly moving chapter in which the prison official responsible for guarding Sir Roger Casement in prison puts aside his vindictively hostile attitude and speaks of the death of his only son in the Battle of Loos in the previous year, 1915. In English terms, he is speaking to a traitor under sentence of death, for Casement (since stripped of his knighthood) was captured in 1916 in Ireland after being set ashore by a German submarine to contact the leaders of the doomed Easter Rising against the British. Casement's life and death have passed into history, but the conversation with the sheriff is, I'm sure, made up. This is what a novelist can do: bring together different historical perspectives in an emotional human connection. All the more surprising, therefore, that Vargas Llosa dilutes the scene of the grieving man with Casement's self-absorbed musing on the details of what went wrong with his own mission, the parade of facts only slightly less dry by being couched as an inner monologue.

The 2010 Nobel Prize committee praised Vargas Llosa "for his cartography of structures of power and for his trenchant images of the individual's resistance, revolt, and defeat." So you would think the story of Roger Casement could not have been better suited for his pen. Born in Ireland in 1864, he worked in various places in Africa before being appointed a British consul. Joseph Conrad credited Casement with opening his eyes to the colonial exploitation that he would feature in his HEART OF DARKNESS of 1902. In 1903, Casement made his own journey upriver, returning to write a report on human rights atrocities that would make him a household name in Britain.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Gene H. Bell-Villada on June 24, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Vargas Llosa never ceases to surprise his readers. He takes on big subjects--Peru in the 1950s, the Canudos rebellion in Brazil, the Trujillo dictatorship, Gauguin in Tahiti--and brings them to life on the page. In this, his latest novel, he reconstructs and depicts the horrors of rubber exploitation, with all its human cost, early in the 20th century, first in the Belgian Congo, later in the Amazon (as seen and reported on by Irish natinalist Roger Casement).

What is amazing is that, for the last 20 years, Vargas Llosa has been a frank libertarian, a defender of the capitalist "free" market who openly ridicules the welfare state and who, in his opinion pieces for the general press, invokes the likes of Hayek, von Mises, and Milton Friedman as his model ideologues.

And yet, when dealing with something so stark as this dark history, the author puts aside the standard, formulaic praise of capitalism for "creating wealth" (a darling phrase of libertarians, including Vargas Llosa himself) and instead shows the system at its most violent and inhuman. We see here Gulag-style slave labor, though under the control of Brits, Belgians, and white Latin Americans.

THE DREAM OF THE CELT may not be one of Vargas Llosa's very best works, but it still demonstrates his masterful objectivity as a novelist, his gift for telling a gripping, suspenseful story, along with an ability to transcend his libertarian dogma and get at the central truth of the events themselves. The book is a worthy successor to Joseph Conrad's HEART OF DARKNESS, with which it will inevitably be compared.
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