Literature and the Search for Liberty
This essay by Mario Vargas Llosa is a month old now. It has been available since then behind paywalls. I only today found a site where the whole essay is available free.
This is the first few paragraphs:
What is lost on collectivists is the prime importance of individual freedom for societies to flourish and economies to thrive.
The blessings of freedom and the perils of its opposite can be seen the world over. It is why I have so passionately adhered to advancing the idea of individual freedom in my work.
Having abandoned the Marxist myths that took in so many of my generation, I soon came to genuinely believe that I had found a truth that had to be shared in the best way I knew—through the art of letters. Critics on the left and right have often praised my novels only to distance themselves from the ideas I’ve expressed. I do not believe my work can be separated from its ideals.
It is the function of the novelist to tell timeless and universal truths through the device of a fashioned narrative. A story’s significance as a piece of art cannot be divorced from its message, any more than a society’s prospects for freedom and prosperity can be divorced from its underlying principles. The writer and the man are one and the same, as are the culture and its common beliefs. In my writing and in my life I have pursued a vision not only to inspire my readers but also to share my dream of what we can aspire to build here in our world.
Yes. Simply being ‘transgressive’ does not make something art. Art, in whatever form, is art because it helps us to see things in a new way. Good art, art that has lasting value, tells the truth. Bad art may be beautifully executed, but if it is not truthful, it is not good.