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Vargas Llosa on: A World Without Fiction

  Mario Vargas Llosa, a famous Peruvian novelist, once gave a speech entitled “A World Without Fiction” at the “Education and Value” seminar held in Madrid. That event was co-hosted by the Spanish Ministry of Culture and Education and the Argentaria Foundation. His speech reflects the strong sense of social responsibility of a cultural person, as well as his analysis and concern about the current situation of culture. The following is an excerpt from his speech to share with you:
  I have had this experience many times: a man with my work came to me, asked me to sign the book, and said that the book was bought for his wife Some say it is for the daughter, and some say it is for the mother. I asked him, “What about you? Don’t you like reading?” The answer was almost the same: “Yes, of course, but I’m busy.” The man, and thousands of men like him , they have too many important things to do, too many responsibilities and obligations, so they can’t “waste” time on reading.
  For them, literature is nothing but a pastime, and only those who have spare time read novels. I would like to raise a few different points of view, because I hope everyone realizes that not only can you get full spiritual enjoyment from literary works, but reading literary works is an irreplaceable and necessary activity for people living in the process of modern democratic society. Therefore, reading novels should start from childhood, and reading should be part of education.
  We live in a special era of rapid technological development. It brings a lot of convenience to people, makes in-depth development and experiment possible, and is the driving force for progress. But at the same time it also makes the cultural commonality gradually disappear. It is with these cultural commonalities that human beings can live together, communicate with each other and support each other. We can’t lose the big because of the small, and we can’t focus too much on the leaves and forget that the leaves are part of the big tree, and the big tree is a part of the forest. To truly realize that the existence of forests, to a large extent, depends on the sense of belonging of the people who connect the whole society. Technology cannot accomplish this task. Only literature reflects what is common to human experience. Readers of Cervantes, readers of Shakespeare, or readers of Dante and Tolstoy, everyone understands each other, because in those works you can learn that we humans can share something, reflecting what occupation, geographical location, Living environment and historical period are irrelevant.
  The special role played by excellent literary works in opposing prejudice, racial discrimination, xenophobia, religious or political sectarianism, and extreme nationalism is obvious to all. No form has taught people to appreciate the rich human heritage of different peoples and cultures more than the outstanding work of fiction. Reading excellent literary works can also learn how to be a person and how to be a person. The sense of belonging to a human group that spans time and space is an advanced harvest of culture, and nothing can evoke a sense of belonging among generations like literature.
  So, what does literature give to human beings? First of all, it can harvest language. A nation without written words must be inaccurate or inaccurate in expression, lacking depth and passion. Humans without fiction are like a world of stutterers and aphasics. Literature does more for the individual. A person who does not read novels, or rarely reads novels, or only reads junk works, he or she may be quite talkative, but it is very likely that he or she is poor in vocabulary, boring and not exciting enough. In addition, a person will also be limited by culture and the limitations of ideas and knowledge, and some things can only be perceived by reading. The organization of literary language is unique and cannot do it for you. Science and technology books will not teach you personality expression. The author may be a leader in a certain research field, but he is not good at expressing his wonderful and rich spiritual world.
  Without fiction, the spirit of criticism, the drive for historical change, and the promotion of the spirit of freedom may be irreparably weakened, because every good piece of literature reflects the fundamental problems of the world we live in. This is another reason why I want to fight for the novel to have an important place in people’s lives.
  Literature is an escape for the somewhat less happy. Traveling to the La Mancha region with Rusin, drifting at sea with Captain Ehaber for the capture of beluga whales, etc., are all wise ways to escape the unfair life. Fiction can ease your grievances, and in that magical moment when the novel’s plot intervenes wonderfully, in that moment when real life comes to a temporary standstill, we become other people – a fuller, richer, happier, more radiant people. Literature allows us to live in an unrestrained world, free from real life, without the constraints of space and time, and become the masters of sovereign territories. After reading “War and Peace” or (“Finding the Lost Time”, when we return to this limited and mundane reality again, borders and prohibitions are always watching us, and every step we take will destroy our dreams. How can we not be disappointed in this moment?
  That is to say, life in fiction is more exciting and satisfying than real life. It can even be said that that life is a great contribution of literature to social progress: it reminds people that, The world is not as good as it should be, but it will definitely improve in the future. We are not far from the beautiful world depicted in the novel.
  A democratic and free society needs responsible citizens. They have a critical spirit, an independent spirit, and will not be easily fooled. Spiritually There is always a pursuit. They make the world closer and closer to the living world that the common people want. Without this spirit of contentment and determination to reform, human beings may still live in a primitive state, there will be no development of science and technology, and people will not know No matter what human rights are, freedom cannot exist. Literature plays a role in the process of human pursuit and realization of dreams. For example, the works of famous artists such as Cervantes and Kafka. At the beginning of “Don Quixote” , the first readers laughed at the bizarre fantasies of the work. Today we understand that those bizarre fantasies are a rebellion against the poverty of the world, and try to change it. Whenever we are afraid, Kafka’s novels will be in The mind flashed. The tortured Prague Jew made us understand the lonely people and the painful and helpless inner world of the minorities who suffered discrimination and harm…
  Of course, the novel also showed the readers unpleasant things, such as horror , murder, violence, sexual abuse, etc. However, the most terrifying thing is not the blood, torture, and brutality in the novel, but finding that such things are not very unfamiliar to us…
  Indeed, the development of information technology has revolutionized people’s communication. The problem is that it occupies more and more of people’s leisure time, and has the potential to replace reading, which is reminiscent of a social scene in the near future. : There are computers, monitors, and stereos everywhere, but there are no books. That fully computerized world, I fear, may be a downright uncivilized society, a mindless society of robots.
  Of course, we would prefer that this vision never materialize. No future is presented the way we designed it. Whether this imagination becomes a reality or is shattered depends on everyone’s views and wishes. If we don’t want to make it a reality, let’s do it. Good books must be read, and future generations should be encouraged to read.

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