Nobel Winner Vargas Llosa Taught at Georgetown
Serafina Hager, a retired Georgetown professor of Italian, said she’s been waiting 15 years for Mario Vargas Llosa to win the Nobel Prize in Literature.
“Every year it was a disappointment – until this year,” she said.
Hager met the Peruvian author when he came to Georgetown as the Spanish and Portuguese department’s first Ibero-American Literature and Culture Chair in the early 2000s. He also served as the Parker Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at Georgetown in 1999 and as a visiting professor in 1994.
“Mario guided his students in the discovery of the world of imagination, the world of books,” she said. “He has more than demonstrated his unique writing talent and continues to transport us in the world of fiction.”
Vargas Llosa is the author of numerous works, including The Feast of the Goat, Time of the Hero and A Fish in the Water: a Memoir. His next book, called El Sueño del Celta (The Dream of the Celt), is based on the life of Roger Casement, an Irish rebel executed in 1916 after trying to run guns from Germany to Ireland.
The author also has been a politician – he ran unsuccessfully in Peru’s presidential election of 1990 on a platform of democracy, a free market and individual liberty. Many of his books have political themes, and he has remained politically active throughout his career.
But at Georgetown, where he received an honorary degree, he is best remembered for how he taught students.
“Through the years, hundreds of Georgetown students have benefited from his wisdom, intellect and his deep sense of humanity,” Hager said. “A disciplined and fully committed individual, Mario interacted with students, listened to their questions and invited a dialogue. No matter how trivial a question, what I remember about Mario is the attention he gave to each student, his encouragement and his unflinching engagement with the life of the mind.”
In keeping with Hager’s observations, Vargas Llosa told Georgetown’s alumni magazine in 1994 that his “only ambition as a teacher is to incite the students to read.”
“Reading literature has been so very rewarding that I would like very much for young people to enjoy the same pleasure that literature has been for me,” he said.
(October 13, 2010)