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The novel thematizes the Westernization of indigenous peoples through missions and through anthropological studies, and questions the perceived notion that indigenous cultures are set in stone.
The plot develops an extended argument of two sides of what to do with Peru's native Amazonian populations. One side argues that tribes should be left alone to live as they have for millennia, leaving them full access and use of their ancient lands. The other side posits that such ancient ways cannot survive the exploitation of economic interests.
In order to save them, natives must be protected by modern intervention of missionaries and government agencies. Through the book, each character seeks ways to protect these groups. Odd chapters are narrated by Mario Vargas Llosa, both a character and the author of the text. These chapters are set in San Marcos University, the radio station where Mario is employed, and several pubs around the city.
Those chapters are set throughout the Amazon as the Storyteller travels from one group to another. The two characters meet only in the odd chapters from time to time, debating politics, university life, and occasionally the rights of the native tribes to either exist as they have or be saved by modernization.
The narrator creates a commentary for public television to shed light on the plight of the Machiguenga, with the hope of convincing himself that the tribe is in better shape for the interventions of modern civilization imposed upon them.
Fellow student at San Marcos and friend of the overall narrator. Is a name used in the storytelling chapters throughout Vargas Llosa's book, one that can cause considerable confusion.
Because the Machiguengas do not use personal names, "Tasurinchi" is not a consistent individual, but the name used for the person or god about whom someone is talking.
It is used, roughly, to mean "revered male about whom we are speaking". Early in the book Saul defines Tasurinchi as "the god of good", but this is just one use of the name. During his storytelling, Mascarita uses "Tasurinchi" as a pronoun used to stand for oneself, other males, and even the sun. Converted to Judaism upon moving to the capital of Peru. After Don Salomon dies, Saul leaves the city to become the storyteller.
To analyze the themes in a broader concept, Vargas asks the reader to think about the positive and negative effects of globalization, specifically through the roles of the Viracochas White men, most typically used in negatively describing the ruthless rubber merchant of the rubber boom and the missionaries. The Viracochas used the native Indians to harvest rubber, promising them food, shelter and goods to come work for them.
The Viracochas treated the Indians horribly once they got to the camps and began pitting the tribes against each other once manpower became scarce. They would send Mashcos to capture three Machiguengas or vice versa to buy their "freedom. Regarding the missionaries and linguists at the Summer Institute, the line between negative and positive impacts are blurred.
By studying the Machiguengas, learning their language, and teaching them English and religion, some may argue that the native Indians are being saved from extinction in modern civilization. Others argue that the linguists and missionaries are a "tentacle of American imperialism which, under the cover of doing scientific research, has been engaged in gathering intelligence and has taken the first steps toward a neocolonist penetration of the cultures of the Amazonian Indian.
The Machiguenga are described as "walkers". A vital aspect of their character is the nomadic nature of social tradition. This transient lifestyle informs their ability to learn from new experiences and encourages curiosity for other cultures. The narrator, Mario, begins to tell the story of Saul who he suspects is the subject in a mysterious photograph displayed in a gallery in Florence. Through Saul's stories of his ethnological research, Mario illustrates the Amerindian general thirst for the unknown.
This custom manifests as acceptance of the other. Despite his physical imperfections and cultural differences , the Machiguenga accept Mascarita. The issue of cultural tradition and abomination are discussed and highlights this very idea of multi-cultural acceptance. Mascarita astutely remarks on the traditional killings of newborns that are born with imperfections. This tradition truly exemplifies Machiguenga respect for the foreigner.
If Mascarita was native to the tribe, his birthmark would have led to his immediate demise. By allowing Mascarita to live and learn from their culture the Machiguenga implicitly accept him by sparing his life. This acceptance is guided by a tenet that is so essential to the fabric of their society: cultural nomadism. The narrator notes that this was "the only time he ever alluded, not jokingly but seriously, even dramatically, to what was undoubtedly a tragedy in his life" The mark also helps accentuate the Machiguenga's practice of unity and collectivism.
In the end, they accept him as a person more than any Western culture did. As indicated by the novel's title, storytelling is a very prominent theme in The Storyteller. After hearing about the special role of Hablador or Storyteller in Machiguenga culture, he is immediately intrigued by it. Something primordial, something that the very existence of a people may depend on. Maybe that's what impressed me so.
In this way, The Storyteller can be seen as a work of metafiction on a self-aware level in the author's chapters and on an unconscious level in the Storyteller's chapters.
Throughout the novel, both the author and the Storyteller question what it means to tell stories and why they are important. This is done through the questioning of the many different stories told in the novel. In the storytelling chapters this is done by the constant qualification of statements with the words "perhaps", "maybe", "it seems", and "That, anyway, is what I have learned.
The parts of the novel narrated by the storyteller are mostly the accounts of the mythological figures in the Machiguenga culture. These native myths often do not have explicit lessons, but instead narrate the complicated Machiguenga mythology. The early parts of the novel begin with creation myths which explain the nomadic, non possessive nature of the Machiguenga people. As the novel progresses, however, the myths begin to relate to Jewish and Christian figures such as Jesus.
Ultimately, it is revealed that the storyteller has begun to hybridize the native myths with Western stories and traditions. Religion is one of the forefront motifs in The Storyteller. While the author's own religion is not explored deeply, he is shown to see religion as a system of rituals and this view is demonstrated early in the novel. However, he and his mother who was a Jewish convert would play games together to pass the time in the synagogue.
Gregor Samsa , the protagonist of Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis , is mentioned many times in the story as a motif.
In The Metamorphosis , the protagonist Gregor Samsa wakes up transformed into a monstrous verminous bug. He even names his pet parrot Gregor Samsa, indicating an intimate association with the story. He even uses that term as a way to bring attention to his own disfigurement, his birthmark. In the stories he tells, he eventually fuses the idea of the thunder god Tasurinchi with Gregor Samsa in the later chapters -- "Gregor-Tasurinchi"—as an example of his eventual cultural hybridism.
The academic world, represented in the novel by the University of San Marcos and the Summer Institute of Linguistics , is actively engaged by the author. He not only completes his studies at the University of San Marcos in Literature, but he also participates in expeditions done by the Summer Institute of Linguistics.
In fact, it is revealed in the beginning that the author is in Italy "to read Dante and Machiavelli and look at Renaissance paintings for a couple of months in solitude. They work their way into the tribes to destroy them from within, just like chiggers.
Ultimately, he leaves the University of San Marcos presumably for Israel. Mario Vargas Llosa made a journey into the Amazon Jungle in He felt that "The absence of law and institutions exposed the jungle natives to the worst humiliations and acts of injustice by colonists, missionaries and adventurers, who had come to impose their will through the use of terror and force. Instead of finding the landscape exotic, he was faced with violence and cruelty of the native tribes.
This trip into the jungle would be Vargas Llosa's inspiration for several of his novels, including The Storyteller. Since its original publication 25 years ago, "The Storyteller has become a classic and is required reading for most anthropology students in the universities of the United States and South America". The "storyteller" hablador of the title refers primarily to a position within Machiguenga culture—to a person who preserves and recites the culture's history and beliefs to the rest of the tribe.
The "storyteller" has a secondary reference to the narrator himself, a writer who briefly runs a television show that tries to copy the work of the hablador by presenting assorted stories of cultural significance. The storyteller is full of many provocative ideals and opinions.
Vargas Llosa commonly writes about violence, corruption, and struggling against authoritarian regimes. Over the last few decades, missionaries have occidentalised the Amazon Indians. There are few tribes that are still isolated from the rest of the world. A clear question brought into mind by the novel is: Is it better to back off and leave native tribes such as the Machiguenga alone, or will their lives be worse off without outside influence?
This, amongst other questions, put the novel at the center of a large debate. The Storyteller was regarded highly among most literary critics. Ursula K. Le Guin , NY Times correspondent for the book review supplement, briefly summarized her reactions to the novel, describing the Storyteller as a science fiction novel; it portrays a fictitious tribe that has been immune to acculturation and Western influence and its influence on a Jewish ethnologist seeking to learn more about their culture. She gives the book an impressive review, praising Vargas Llosa's ability to discuss the role of Western influence on the native and the overpowering impact of primitive culture on the white man.
She writes, "To me this is Mr. Vargas Llosa's most engaging and accessible book, for the urgency of its subject purifies and illuminates the writing. I was spellbound, as if by the voice of that storyteller in the circle of listeners Le Guin The Kirkus review comments on Vargas Llosa's fruitless efforts to emphasize the role of storytelling.
This formal review criticizes this essential component to the novel, accusing Vargas Llosa of writing a novel that is "unsatisfying and cobbled-up" Kirkus Review The Publisher Weekly gave the Storyteller a rave review. A whole culture is contained within these dreamy narratives". Time magazine comments on The Storyteller: "A fascinating tale.
Because of its focus on the role of storytelling within culture, the novel has received numerous critical studies, including:. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article has multiple issues. Please help improve it or discuss these issues on the talk page. Learn how and when to remove these template messages. This article includes a list of references , but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations.
El Hablador Novela by Vargas Llosa Mario