Out of the Wings

You are here:

Mario Vargas Llosa

Personal information
Surname: Vargas Llosa
First name: Mario
Born: 1936, Arequipa, Peru

Mario Vargas Llosa is best known as the Nobel Prize-winning novelist from Peru. He spent much of his early childhood in Cochabamba, Bolivia, then moved with his parents to a middle-class suburb of Lima. He attended the University of San Marcos in Lima in the mid-1950s which was a turbulent time in Peru, and he draws upon this period in his novel, Conversation in the Cathedral, published in 1969.  After university, Vargas Llosa left Peru and began his literary career abroad, living in London, Paris and Madrid. Despite Vargas Llosa’s tremendous success and recognition as a novelist, he has described theatre, not fiction, as his first love.


Vargas Llosa is concerned with the fragile boundaries between fantasy and reality, truth and lies.  His interest is in exploring this notion through the theatrical medium.  As in his fiction, Vargas Llosa’s contention is that fantasy and imagination have the power to be more authentic than non-fictional narratives such as history and journalism which we blindly put our faith in, believing it to be the ‘truth’.


Vargas Llosa’s drama bears the mark of a novelist.  Characterisation is meticulously prescribed by the stage directions and the lyricism of the description of place and time betrays a literary quality.  Some episodes are dreamlike; however, the overall presentation of the drama is firmly rooted in naturalism and representational theatre.

Plays in the database
Other works
  • Vargas Llosa, Mario. 1952. La huida del inca (The Flight of the Incas) (in Spanish)

  • Vargas Llosa, Mario. 1981. La señorita de Tacna (The Young Lady from Tacna) (in Spanish)

  • Vargas Llosa Mario. 1983. Kathie y el hipopótamo (Kathie and the hippopotamus) (in Spanish)

  • Vargas Llosa, Mario. 1993. El loco de los balcones (The Madman of Balconies) (in Spanish)

  • Vargas Llosa, Mario. 2007. Odiseo y Penélope (Odysseus and Penelope) (in Spanish)

  • Vargas Llosa, Mario. 2008. Al pie del Támesis (At the Foot of the Thames) (in Spanish)

  • Vargas Llosa, Mario. 2010. Las mil y una noches (A Thousand and One Nights) (in Spanish)

Useful reading and websites
  • Bixler, Jaqueline. 1988. ‘Vargas Llosa’s Kathie e y hipopótamo: The Theatre as a Self-Conscious Deception’, Hispania 71.2, 254-61

  • Gerdes, Dick and Holzapful, Tamara. 1990. ‘Melodrama and Reality in the Plays of Mario Vargas Llosa’, Latin American Theatre Review 24, 17-28

  • Vargas Llosa, Mario. 1996. Making Waves, trans. John King. London, Faber

Entry written by Gwendolen Mackeith. Last updated on 19 September 2011.

Post a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment. Please log in or sign up for a free account.

  • King's College London Logo
  • Queen's University Belfast Logo
  • University of Oxford Logo
  • Arts and Humanities Research Council Logo