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Mascarita's Metamorphosis : Vargas Llosa and Kafka

Mascarita's Metamorphosis : Vargas Llosa and Kafka Roy Chandler Caldwell, Jr. The eponymous storyteller of Mario Vargas Llosa's novel El Hablador (1987) undergoes a transformation nearly as radical as Gregor Samsa's in Kafka's Die Verwandlung. Saúl Zuratas--better known as Mascarita, 'Mask-face'--leaves his promising university career and disappears into the Amazonian jungle to Uve among an isolated Naturvolk, the Machiguengas. WhUe other Westerners--missionaries, anthropologists, traders--likewise penetrate remote zones and encounter other peoples, Mascarita goes further than they. He not only adopts Machiguenga language and Machiguenga ways and beUefs, but also appears to have completely abandoned Western values and Western practices. Mascarita does not encounter the Other; he has become the Other. The role he plays in his chosen culture symboUzes the depth of his assimüation: a storyteller, he has made himself the repository of Machiguenga narrative, thus assuming responsibüity for preserving his new people's threatened identity. For Mascarita, as for Gregor Samsa, there is no going back on his metamorphosis. My comparison of Mascarita to Gregor Samsa is not arbitrary, for traces of Kafka's text appear throughout El Hablador. Before quitting the West for the Machiguengas, Mascarita had adopted Gregor Samsa as a fictional totem. Mascarita revered Kafka; he knew Die Verwandlung by heart and referred http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Comparatist University of North Carolina Press

Mascarita's Metamorphosis : Vargas Llosa and Kafka

The Comparatist , Volume 25 (1) – Oct 3, 2001

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Publisher
University of North Carolina Press
Copyright
Copyright © Southern Comparative Literature Association.
ISSN
1559-0887
Publisher site
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Abstract

Roy Chandler Caldwell, Jr. The eponymous storyteller of Mario Vargas Llosa's novel El Hablador (1987) undergoes a transformation nearly as radical as Gregor Samsa's in Kafka's Die Verwandlung. Saúl Zuratas--better known as Mascarita, 'Mask-face'--leaves his promising university career and disappears into the Amazonian jungle to Uve among an isolated Naturvolk, the Machiguengas. WhUe other Westerners--missionaries, anthropologists, traders--likewise penetrate remote zones and encounter other peoples, Mascarita goes further than they. He not only adopts Machiguenga language and Machiguenga ways and beUefs, but also appears to have completely abandoned Western values and Western practices. Mascarita does not encounter the Other; he has become the Other. The role he plays in his chosen culture symboUzes the depth of his assimüation: a storyteller, he has made himself the repository of Machiguenga narrative, thus assuming responsibüity for preserving his new people's threatened identity. For Mascarita, as for Gregor Samsa, there is no going back on his metamorphosis. My comparison of Mascarita to Gregor Samsa is not arbitrary, for traces of Kafka's text appear throughout El Hablador. Before quitting the West for the Machiguengas, Mascarita had adopted Gregor Samsa as a fictional totem. Mascarita revered Kafka; he knew Die Verwandlung by heart and referred

Journal

The ComparatistUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: Oct 3, 2001

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