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THE TIME OF THE HERO by Mario Vargas Llosa


A Novel

by Mario Vargas Llosa & translated by Lysander Kemp

Pub Date: Aug. 26th, 1966
ISBN: 0374520216
Publisher: Grove

Not since Calder Willingham's End as a Man has there been such an unflinching view of life within a military academy, this time in contemporary Peru where 1000 copies of this book were burned at the Leoncio Prado Military Academy, its site. Here all the indurated brutality of the army combines with the random cruelty of adolescence, particularly apparent in their ritualistic hazing. The story, which is actually quite straightforward, begins with the theft of a chemistry examination and polarizes around two boys; the gentler Ricardo whom they call The Slave; his only friend, Alberto, the Poet, in whose interests the paper is stolen. Ultimately Ricardo will rat on the offender, only to be shot, fatally, during field exercises. Alberto's claim that he has been murdered in reprisal is quickly silenced. If this reduces the book quite simply, the intention has been deliberate: critical commentary to the contrary ("states of mind, the contradictory realizations...the painful confusions of adolescence") -- much of it takes place on an external level and the characters are not very markedly individuated. It is easier to be impressed than involved--Llosa, a young writer, uses direct experience authentically, authoritatively