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The Storyteller: A Novel by Mario Vargas…
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The Storyteller: A Novel (original 1987; edition 2001)

by Mario Vargas Llosa, Helen Lane (Translator)

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6851413,926 (3.78)51
Member:RebaRelishesReading
Title:The Storyteller: A Novel
Authors:Mario Vargas Llosa
Other authors:Helen Lane (Translator)
Info:Picador (2001), Edition: First Edition, Paperback, 245 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***1/2
Tags:Nobel

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The Storyteller by Mario Vargas Llosa (1987)

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English (11)  Norwegian (1)  Spanish (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (14)
Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
I picked this up rather at random for the next stage of my campaign to consolidate my Spanish by immersion. Possibly not the best choice, as the effect relies partly on deliberately unfamiliar vocabulary, so I spent a lot of time looking words up to find out whether they were names of Amazonian plants and animals I was expected to know, or invented words used to reinforce the strangeness of Manchiguenga culture.

The book is essentially about the ways indigenous traditional cultures work and how they are affected by external change. It's not really a novel in the conventional sense, but more a frame on which to hang thoughts about the collision between "western" and "traditional" culture and experiments aimed at capturing — or rather imagining and representing — the form a narrative by a traditional storyteller might take. To do this, Vargas Llosa alternates chapters in the voice of the storyteller with chapters narrated in conventional style by a narrator who seems to be a slightly-fictionalised version of himself.

The political and ethical message of the book is more nuanced than I was expecting: although part of the book's aim is certainly to show us the elegance and harmony of the timeless and sustainable lifestyle of the Manchiguengas and the way this is threatened by any contact with the outside world, Vargas Llosa also wants us to see that it isn't as simple as that: human beings are not wild animals that we can lock up in a wilderness reserve as an ecological monument. There are benefits to living in modern society as well as drawbacks, and indigenous people shouldn't have to be exposed to the negative side only. For Vargas Llosa, the culture of his fictional indigenous tribe, the Manchiguengas, is not a static tradition, but it is one that has adapted with their conditions of living. Even if contact with the modern world brings big changes to their outward way of life, their culture seems to be robust enough to take this in its stride. Especially if they have a storyteller with the chutzpah to translate Kafka and the Jewish diaspora into the narrative idiom of the rainforest. ( )
  thorold | Mar 10, 2014 |
Going back to books by Nobel prize winners, I read [The Storyteller] by [[Mario Vargas Llosa]] which I found to be a rather difficult read. Partly because I found it a little difficult to tell who was speaking at times (although it may not matter) and partly because I'm not a big fan of mythology. The book has two narrators, one unnamed and the other a school friend of the first. The first narrator is a Peruvian anthropologist living in Florence. Saul, the second narrator, is the son of a jewish man and his indian wife. The first narrator tells the story of Saul who transforms from being a law student to a liberal interested in Amazonian tribes to someone convinced that change is destroying the tribes but much of the book is spent relating stories of the various tribes which explain to them the way the world works. Only at the very end does the book come back to the story of Saul. The stories are interesting and sometimes rather charming but the indian names of the gods, devils, humans, etc. made them difficult for me to follow. I'm glad I read it and I imagine I would get a lot more out of it if I read it again, but I don't think I liked it well enough to spend my time doing that. ( )
  RebaRelishesReading | Dec 14, 2012 |
I read this book, which I have owned for years (I found an airline ticket stub from 1992 in it) for the Reading Globally rainforest/jungle theme read. In it, Vargas Llosa's narrator, a Chilean writer visiting Florence, merges his story with his imagined story of a former classmate who apparently left behind his middle class urban existence and integrated himself so fully into the life of a tribe in the Amazonian jungle that he became a "hablador," a storyteller, who roamed the jungle recounting the stories and myths of the tribe. The most powerful parts of the book are these tales, which give a vivid and moving picture of the life of "primitive" people who frequently move from place to place and who are fully integrated with the fauna and flora of the jungle, much of it threatening. The novel also touches on the place of outsiders in society and the modern world and the nature of identity. Some of the non-jungle material was a little didactic and I found this distracting. This book doesn't have the breadth of scope of some of Vargas Llosa's larger works, but it was interesting and thought-provoking.
  rebeccanyc | Apr 19, 2010 |
Excellent story. The book weaves together the narrator's memories of a college friend and the mythology of the Machiguengas, an Amazonian tribe. I loved the lyrical style of the mythology sections and the myths themselves. In this tribe, when something bad happens, they just move on (keep walking so the sun doesn't fall from the sky). Isn't that true for many of us (though we don't have such an amazing explanation for it)? ( )
  kjacobson1 | Jan 22, 2010 |
First of Llosa's books I read; and I was so impressed to discover his unique style ! Confused at the beginning, it took me a while to figure out the structure of the novel; and even more - to get the point.
A story of a special guy who feels like he couldn't fit in this world... having an out-of-ordinary sign on his face. While studying for the university he was teaching at, he discovers an ancient world that he might be welcome in... and ends up as one of the spiritual mentors of it.
Read this one after the first year in college... from the local library. ( )
  Myhi | Jul 12, 2009 |
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A Luis Llosa Ureta, en su silencio, y a los kenkitsatatsirira machiguengas
口を閉ざすルイス・リョサ・ウレータとマチゲンガ族の語り部(ケンキツァタツィリラ)に捧ぐ (Japanese)
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I came to Firenze to forget Peru and the Peruvians for a while, and suddenly my unfortunate country forced itself upon me this morning in the most unexpected way.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312420285, Paperback)

At a small gallery in Florence, a Peruvian writer happens upon a photograph of a tribal storyteller deep in the jungles of the Amazon. He is overcome with the eerie sense that he knows this man...that the storyteller is not an Indian at all but an old school friend, Saul Zuratas. As recollections of Zuratas flow through his mind, the writer begins to imagine Zuratas's transformation from a modern to a central member of the unacculturated Machiguenga tribe. Weaving the mysteries of identity, storytelling, and truth, Vargas Llosa has created a spellbinding tale of one man's journey from the modern world to our origins, abandoning one in order to find meaning in both.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:47:52 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

From the Publisher: At a small gallery in Florence, a Peruvian writer happens upon a photograph of a tribal storyteller deep in the jungles of the Amazon. He is overcome with the eerie sense that he knows this man-that the storyteller is not an Indian at all but an old school friend, Saul Zuratas. As recollections of Zuratas flow through his mind, the writer begins to imagine Zuratas's transformation from a modern to a central member of the unacculturated Machiguenga tribe. Weaving the mysteries of identity, storytelling, and truth, Vargas Llosa has created a spellbinding tale of one man's journey from the modern world to our origins, abandoning one in order to find meaning in both.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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