Summary of Mario Vargas Llosa’s “Why Literature”
Published 07 Jun 2017
Mario Vargas paper, “Why Literature,” basically highlighted the crucial roles that literature played in shaping the world and also the showed the importance of reading in all of humanity. Llosa first claimed that the notion “no time to read” does not truly exist. He also belied the concept that literature is simply a luxury or a form of entertainment afforded to people who have time.
Moreover, he deplored the fact that there are less people in the world who read literature or who read books and other good materials. According to his observations, there are more women who read than men and that in certain countries, like Spain, half of the nation’s population has never read a book. The main reason behind this, Llosa claimed, is the rapid development of science and technology which caused the specialization of knowledge. While this development and specialization of knowledge has benefits, it also has severe consequences as it removes the cultural and intellectual traits that allow humans to communicate and coexist. In short, due to technology, humans become too compartmentalized or too specialized that they no longer interact with one another.
On the other hand, according to Llosa, literature, unlike technology, integrates human beings and binds them together. Through literature, people can always converse with one another regardless of their respective professions, races, and cultural and geographic locations in the world. When people read a good piece of literature, they are in a way unified as they are brought to the alternate world that a book or a poem creates. In short, in the world of literature, there is a brotherly link or a common ground for people unlike in the world of science where each person has his or her own specialization and boundaries. However, Llosa noted that literature does not begin when the author simply creates a poem or a novel. It exists only when it is shared and adopted by other and becomes a part of life, which is done primarily through reading.
Furthermore, Llosa claimed that one of the major benefits of literature is that it enriches and enhances language. It generally allows people to express their thoughts and emotions clearly and in the most creative ways. In addition, reading literature also enhances one’s intellect and imagination.
Most important, he claimed that literature drives the critical mind of people because it is radical and allows radical thoughts. It more or less promotes non-conformity to the harsh realities that are often perceived to be normal. According to Llosa, literature transports people to a timeless world where virtually everything is perfect. When these people are brought back to reality, they suddenly possess the desire to recreate the alternate dimension, which they may read in a poem or a book, in the real world. In short, it can then be deduced that literature played an important role in shaping history because it gave people the means to think outside the box and allowed them to constantly reshape the world so that it closely resembled the place where they want to live in. Likewise, he argued that a world without literature would halt humanity’s progress and development because they would remain primitive and barbaric. Therefore, he concluded that that in order for the world to further develop and not be overwhelmed by the rapid evolution of technology, people must start reading.
In general, I agree with the author’s points in the paper. It is a fact that as technology continues to develop rapidly today, people are less inclined to read good literature because they are caught up in the limits and boundaries that science has set. This is an unfortunate scenario because like what the author said, in literature there are no limits. Through reading the books of Don Quixote and the poems of Shakespeare, among many others, we can escape the harsh realities of life and temporarily exist in a world where time does not pass. In other words, people should always find time to read a good novel or a great piece of literature because it stimulates the imagination and broadens creativity, which is essential in life.
- Llosa, M. V. (2001, May 14). Why Literature? The New Republic.