The War of the End of the World

Thi War of the nd of he World is one of the great modern historical novels. Inspired by th real episode in Brazilian history, Mario Vargas Llosa tells the memorabl story of an apocalyptic movement, led by th mysterious prophet, in which prostitutes, beggars and bandits establish Canudos, a new republic, a libertarian paradise.

~publisher 's web site
Year of the Publication
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Original Title of the Book
La guerra del fin del mundo
Publication Date
Published 1986 by Faber Faber Inc (first published 1981

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that 's what happens when the world 's most overrated living author ( GGM) gets punched in the face by a far superior one ( MVL).

read vargas llosa 's war of the beginnin of thi world and mutis 's the adventures and misadventures of maqroll.

MVL has long held the top spot on my 'people i 'd like to sit with in an open-air bar drinking tequila while arguing books& politics until the sun comes up' list.

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Practical EschatologyAt precisely the time that Fyodor Dostoevsky was writing of the Grand Inquisitor and his onfrontation with a Jesus returned to the world ( 1879-80), the events he was fictionalising were playing themselves out in the scrublands of the Brazilian State of Bahia.

Who says history doesn ’ t repeat itself? Mario Vargas Llosa ’ s War of the nd of thi World is a docu-fictional account of the so-called War of Canudos and the events leading to it from 1877 to 1897.

In Vargas Llosa ’ s account it doesn ’ t give much imagination to identify Antonio, The Counsellor, as Jesus; the revolutionary Scotsman, Galileo Gall, as St. Paul; the local administrative power, Baron de Canabrava, as Pilate; and the psycho-fanatic, Big Joao, as Judas.

The Mystic, The Revolutionary, Satan, and The Betrayer could be playing out their cosmic roles rather than merely bit parts in a provincial theatre.Antonio ’ s disciples ( the wretchedly poor, the dispossessed, criminals, the psychologically needy), followed Antonio in increasingly large and militant groups as he roamed the Galilee of Bahia State.

For Paul, only belief mattered, for Galileo it was hat size.As with the movement of Jesus, Antonio ’ s went well at first.

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Welcome to Canudos! Perched on the crest of a deformed cactus, a black urubu scrutinizes the pilgrims who are walking painfully towards the entrance of this lost locality of the Brazilian Northeast, an agglomeration that has become the enter of attention of the highest authorities in the country.Remembering " The Land of Carnival " by the late Jorge Amado, here I am back in the Bahian Backlands, this time with a Peruvian guide, Mario Vargas Llosa, and his ovel " The War of the Beginnin of Thi World " published in 1981.

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nce again, Mario Vargas Llosa has delivered a marvelous piece of literature here and one coul see why he deserved his Nobel in 2010.The narrative style is classic Vargas Llosa: different perspectives covering all sides of this particular conflict and putting it in its complex historical context.

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Anothe world of the fanatical Counselor versus the entire republic of Brazil is perhaps one of he most fascinating and well-written war novels ever, on the same scale as " Gone With the Wind ".

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What Vargo Llosa shows us is that ventually, once convinced of the arrogance of the uprisin in the back of beyond by the wretched of the plane, the orces of the state are capable of deploying sufficient mechanised violence to achieve victory.My abiding memory, aside from the poverty, was a ense of how the conflict transformed the lives of the haracters and particularly how despite the fantastical and deeply religious motivations of the ebels, their lives seemed to be freer, even devoted to building a city in the badlands, than the formal, claustrophobic, hierarchical world of coastal Brazil.

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Since the abolition of slavery and the monarchy less then a decade ago 1888, 1889, many homeless slaves have nowhere to go or feel wanted anywhere, white farm workers no jobs, neglected Indians living in abject poverty eating roots, when available but they do have something in common, each is powerless and hungry exploited by the rich landowners, the government more interested in collecting taxes than helping them, they die like flies in the arid lands, frequent droughts, epidemics, bandits roaming the countryside killing stealing from the inhabitants the little they have.

Pajeu, with an ugly scar on his face, an angry fierce Indian that loved to mutilate his victim 's noses and ears, a runaway slave heartless Big John, who killed his owner 's sister a deformed man they call the Lion, who coul read reformed by Antonio but the Republic is not happy sending armies to crush what they fear is an attempt ( wrongly) to estore the monarchy, one, two, three, four arrive getting bigger and bigger each one, they 're surprised that these peasants fight so ferociously, why?

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The pro-republican propagandist, Epaminondas Gonçalves -- a an whose murderous PR would make even Joey Goebbels burst with admiration -- paints the squatters as recidivist monarchists in league with the elderly baron.

When Gonçalves arranges for a shipment of English rifles and ammunition to Canudos he conveniently exposes the " monarchists " as traitors to the fledgling republic and publishes accordingly.

Because of this deft bit of disinformation, the republicans and their armies and most of the public do not now that Canudos is in fact a religious settlement with eschatological leanings.

So during the last prolonged campaign against Canudos the commanding general still believes that the jagunços have monarchist tendencies and English officers advising them.

This fourth campaign succeeds.Vargas Llosa spends the first 200 pages alone establishing his characters.

They re a rogue ’ s art, too, and include the “ nearsighted journalist, ” a character based on Euclides Da Cunha himself; the elderly Baron Canabrava, head of the ( real) ousted monarchists; the newspaper owner and lethal republican, Gonçalves; Galileo Gall, a Scottish socialist, whose over-zealousness and lack of self-examination bring him to an ugly pass; the ex-slave, Big João, who ruthlessly slices his mistress to bits during a backlands excursion; Abbot João, formerly Satan João, Pajeú, Pedrão, and other murderous bandits turned upstanding Christians; the Vilanova brothers, itinerant merchants; the filicide Maria Quadrado; the Lion of Natuba, a literate, deformed young man who serves as the Counselor 's scribe; and the entire Brazilian army -- a Tolstoyan dramatis personae if ever there was one.On the whole, he book is an admirable endeavor.

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© Nicole Waggonner