The War at the End of the World

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The War at the End of the World

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Mar 29, 2011, 12:16pm

I just started The War at the End of the World. I thought I'd set up this thread in case others read it too! My copy is well over 500 pages and some of the smallest most densely packed font I've ever seen in a novel. I'll be busy for a while.

Edited: Apr 4, 2011, 8:44am

I'm going to read this novel soon, and I'll read my Norwegian edition "Dommedagskrigen"

Apr 6, 2011, 10:55pm

I read it at the beginning of the year. It is a bit slow and confusing at first as it changes from one character's perspective to another's, sometimes switching into first person, sometimes into present tense. And, yes, the print is tiny! Reading 20 pages at a sitting is an achievement. But it isn't too long before the characters become familiar and the suspense builds. It is a magnificent novel.

Here is a link to my review.

Apr 7, 2011, 12:56pm

OK-- now I'm hooked. It took about 75 pages (3 days!!) for me to get acquainted with the characters (and keep them straight), the novel's structure, and language. It was confusing until I noticed the little "dots" that delineate one voice/time/character from the next. This is a "one martini only" book.

Apr 10, 2011, 8:29pm

This is a "one martini only" book.

Ha! Thanks for the warning. I'll be starting this book soon, too, so thanks for setting up the thread.

Apr 11, 2011, 11:16am

This was my first Vargas Llosa and remains my favorite.

Apr 26, 2011, 1:11am

I don't usually post until I've completed a book-- but this one is taking sooooo long. It really is good, but not a quick read at all. It's almost exhausting to read. The storytelling style is reminiscent of Roberto Bolano and you can't force it. You just have to relax and read. No page count per night goal, finish by a certain date, etc. Just take it in at its own pace, not yours. Kinda Latin American don't you think?

May 19, 2011, 1:44am

finally finished! My review is at
4.25 stars

Jun 19, 2011, 9:07am

It took me forever to finish this book - a month to read 500 pages! But as you all have pointed out, it isn't one to rush. I loved all the perspective changes, and how he'd give away the outcome of battles long before we get to the actual battle scenes.

I found the differences between the characters' opinions of their own thoughts/motivations/behavior and their actions to be jarring. I'm thinking, in particular, of all the rape scenes. And there were lots of them. Not so much the ones with the soldiers, but ***SPOILERS AHEAD*** Galileo Gall's and the Baron's. I had liked both characters up to the points where they commit their rapes, but then their justifications ("its no big deal in the grand scheme of things" and "but I'm doing this for you, honey"?) are horrifying. Gall, especially. He claims to be all pro-worker and class-struggle and all that, but then his actions toward a member of that class and his total lack of remorse show that he really isn't out to help the proletariat, despite what he tells himself. Not that Rufino was any better. These scenes in particular made me wonder whether MVL was trying to make a point (both upstanding members of society, the baron and Gall, just don't care what their victims want, unlike the criminal-turned-saint Pajeu, who wants Jurema if she comes willingly), or if he is one of those authors who just doesn't see rape as that big a deal.

Sorry about harping on this one point, but I found those scenes really hard to read, mostly because I couldn't believe that this character who I had liked would act like that. But then they did.

Jun 19, 2011, 12:27pm

Thought I'd repost my original review of this (I read it a few years ago):

It took me a little while to get into this book, as Vargas Llosa introduces a lot of characters and a lot of plot segments, but oh it is wonderful as they all start to come together.

This is the story of a group of misfits/criminals/suffering people of all types who fall under the sway of a charismatic preacher and who create their own community on land taken from an aristocratic landowner in the northeastern Bahia region of Brazil at the end of the 19th century. The existence of this community gives rise to all kinds of political theories, plots, and reactions among the new republican leaders of Brazil, the aristocracy, revolutionary dreamers, and the army, leading to a series of wars. Vargas Llosa's ability to get inside the heads of all these people, each of whom believes his way of viewing the situation is correct, often to the point of fanaticism and delusion, is marvelous, and the novel is both moving and thrilling. Also wonderful is the vivid sense of the remote and harsh environment in which the story unfolds.