Friday, May 6, 2011

We invent fictions in order to live somehow the many lives we would like to lead

Mario Vargas Llosa
... thanks to literature, to the consciousness it shapes, the desires and longings it inspires, and our disenchantment with reality when we return from the journey to a beautiful fantasy, civilization is now less cruel than when storytellers began to humanize life with their fables. We would be worse than we are without the good books we have read, more conformist, not as restless, more submissive, and the critical spirit, the engine of progress, would not even exist. Like writing, reading is a protest against the insufficiencies of life. When we look in fiction for what is missing in life, we are saying, with no need to say it or even to know it, that life as it is does not satisfy our thirst for the absolute – the foundation of the human condition – and should be better. We invent fictions in order to live somehow the many lives we would like to lead when we barely have one at our disposal.

An extract from Mario Vargas Llosa’s acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize for Literature. The whole thing is free as a pdf download.

My thanks to UK writer Kathleen Jones for spotting this, and for her thoughtful discussion of it (and more quotes) on her blog. I love this about blogs - there you are on an ordinary day, contemplating walking the dog before heading out the door to work at the bookshop, and suddenly BAM - you find something that sends the brain cells in complex, satisfying loops. 

I don't have time to read the whole thing now, but Kathleen's given me a taste and a link and I can come back to it tonight - with a glass of wine - before American Idol.

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