The City and the Dogs: Book by Mario Vargas Llosa

In this article, the reader will enjoy a reading about events that occurred in a Leoncio Prado Military College, entitled: The City and the Dogs: Book of Mario Vargas Llosa, being the living reflection of a Peruvian society.

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The city and the Dogs

The literary work known as the City and the Dogs is the first written action that the famous Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa initiates and takes him to the top among the most famous playwrights in literary history.

The city and the dogs, is a literary work that catapulted the author who through this story became worthy of the Biblioteca Breve Award in 1962, and later published in January 1963, obtaining the Spanish Critics Award.

Initially, the literary named the novel as The dwelling of the hero, later he changed it to Los impostores, marked a great relevance because it gave opening to the Peruvian contemporary narrative. It is a work that enjoyed many editions, as well as translated into thirty languages.

The story is set in the Leoncio Prado Military School. The characters that star in this attractive narrative are a group of boys who study, under the severity of an inclement and imposing military education, learn to survive in an environment where suspicion of race and the distinction between social and economic classes are rooted.

It is an environment where the participants present themselves as they really are and the violation of the constituted norms is usually the only way out.

The city and the dogs, is not only a censorship against harshness, but it is a direct attack on what is held as the wrong concept of manhood, and a misunderstood military-style education.

Publication of the work The City and the Dogs

Between 1950 and 1951, the author Mario Vargas Llosa, was one of the participants of those years, who came to study high school at the Military College known as Leoncio Prado, which is why with his experience that marked his life deeply; being the year 1956, and that of course, he had already planned, that once he would begin to write in his own handwriting, his first novel would be based on that experience as a student, giving him the opportunity to write the work the City and the dogs .

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However, time did not help him at that time, since he will dedicate himself completely to the work. Precisely in this year 1956, that he traveled to Spain to study as a scholarship holder, and once he had some book space left, he was ready to continue with the story.

He began to capture the literary work The city and the dogs, in the autumn season in 1958, in the city of Madrid, in a tavern known as "El Jute" in the city of Madrid, currently a restaurant that It bears another name, and he finished it in the winter of 1961, in a small room during his stay in Paris.

The development of the narrative was done with the writing and rewriting of the novel that felt overwhelming. The literary Mario Vargas Llosa, revealed to Abelardo Oquendo, in a letter that he exclaimed at the beginning of the year 1959, the following:

“In the novel The City and the Dogs, I move forward and twist. I have a hard time… I spend whole hours correcting a page or trying to close a dialogue and suddenly I start writing a dozen pages without stopping. I have no idea how it's turning out, but I feel intoxicated. Writing is the only really exciting thing there is.

Initially, the working paper where he wrote his first letters of the novel the City and the dogs, reached about 1.200 pages, then the enthusiastic author took it to many Spanish and Latin American publishers, however, they were all discarded and underestimated.

Although in Spain, he had just won the "Leopoldo Alas" award, for his ingenious text of stories "Los Jefes", which was published in 1959, but, with his first literary work, a stumbling block appeared that seemed difficult to overcome: Francoist criticism.

During his stay in Paris, he got the French Hispanist Claude Couffon to read his manuscript on the City and the dogs, who was enthusiastic about the story, to the extent that he recommended that he entrust its publication to the editor Carlos Barral, at the Seix Barral publishing house. of Barcelona, ​​being only he who could hit the way to adequately avoid censorship.

Prior to reading the manuscript, Carlos Barral received damaging information about the work from his advisers. However, the editor of Barcelona origin, one day while he was immersed in leisure, rummaging through the papers in one of the desk drawers of his office in Seix Barral, or came across the original of what was the novel the City and the dogs, and he amused himself reading it.

From the first moment, he was shocked and fascinated with the narration, so he thought that he would do everything in his power to divulge such a charming work called The City and the Dogs. However, he recommended Vargas Llosa, who will first show the literary work for the Biblioteca Breve Award, and in the way he had envisioned it, resulting in the winner.

The famous Spanish critic José María Valverde, being one of the jurors, expressed that the novel The City and the Dogs, qualified it as “The best novel in the Spanish language, since Don Segundo Sombra”which was published in 1926.

After extensive agreements to evade Franco's censorship, the novel was published in 1963. It was awarded the Spanish Critics' Prize, and was a trifle away from becoming worthy of the Formentor Prize, which it did not win by a scant vote. .

Origin of the title

In general, it often happens that many of the readers wonder where they would get the title of this book from, in this case, we will let them know its origin.

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The first title that the author originally sounded out for his work was "The Hero's Abode", which he later changed to "The Impostors", however, none of the titles made them crystallize to baptize his novel.

During one of his stays in Lima, he met one of his great friends, the Peruvian connoisseur and critic known as José Miguel Oviedo, whom he did not hesitate to ask about the dilemma that accompanied him.

The writer Oviedo, who was already aware of the content of the work the city and the dogs, and since he had already read it and shared it with a small group of friends, recommended the title "The city and the mists", emphasizing to the mist that covers the coastal territory where the military school is located, which is mentioned in the narration.

Observing that Vargas Llosa was not satisfied, Oviedo then proposed another title such as "The city and the dogs", insinuating the "dogs" or third-year cadets, characters that intervene in the novel. Vargas Llosa, is delighted with the title, to which he expresses: "That's the title", being in this way that the first work of the literary is baptized.

Plot of The City and the Dogs

The literary work the City and the dogs, is developed in the Military College known as Leoncio Prado, it is a house of studies, attended by young people and adolescents who will be interned to receive secondary education, to a strict style of military discipline.

In this famous work, the City and the Dogs, different stories are told of young people who reveal and are instructed in an altered way of living together, which does not allow them to grow as people, they are also dominated and bowed down. However, many of the participants, through this learning system, manage to have the strength necessary to achieve their challenges and victories.

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Mario Vargas Llosa, questions the way of life and military culture, in which behaviors and values ​​such as aggressiveness, bravery, courage, manliness, sexuality, among others, are evidenced and consolidated, which silently mutilate the personal growth of young people during their stay in the school.

The multiplicity of characters, their lives are intertwined in the military student coexistence, until completing the attractive work. The tangle of the narrative is centralized in the fact of the theft of the questions of a chemistry exam, which is confessed by a cadet identified with the alias El Esclavo, who dies, presumably because of another cadet with the pseudonym El Jaguar.

Meanwhile, another cadet nicknamed the Poet tries unsuccessfully to denounce the so-called Jaguar. All this event, makes them face each other, and with the authorities of the military college, who are army officers.

The plot of the literary work the city of dogs, he affirms, which means the school for the protagonists: it is an ephemeral enclosure that has contributed to a formation of good behavior and good citizens, or alternatively it has falsified them so that they join a civil society that awaits them.

Structure of the play The City and the Dogs

The literary work The City and the Dogs is divided as follows:

  • First part: It is subdivided into eight chapters marked with Roman numerals
  • Second Part: Subdivided into eight chapters
  • Epílogo

Each chapter is made up of 16 chapters, and with independent events, which differ graphically, as they are separated with blank spaces.

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The events are not ruthlessly and chronologically advanced, but on the contrary, jumps can be evidenced, resuming several times to find their sequence. She finds herself divided, in such a way, from narrating the facts, that she glimpses the urgency of recounting the unique stories of some characters, who only focus on the institution of military education.

Technique of the City and the Dogs

The central and direct theme of the narration occurs in the middle of the matter, which translates into the essential event of the work, which all originates from the theft of the chemistry exam questions.

Although, the narration in its content is not direct, due to the fact that preliminary chronological facts intrude around the central theme, in addition to being linked to the lives of the main protagonists, namely: Ricardo Arana, nicknamed the Slave; Alberto Fernández, nickname the Poet; and a third party unidentified until now, but which will later be revealed dubbed the Jaguar.

These similar stories go back to the times when the cadets enlist for the first time to study at the military college, however, through the flashback technique, which means retrospective scene, they go back in time, when the protagonists were still children; in the months before he entered the Castro school.

The history of the city and the dogs, in all its content, takes place in different times and territories, with the participation of various events that increase the central plot.


In this work The city and the dogs, you can find different narrators and their different approaches.

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It can be seen that the first visibly recognizable narrator is "the Poet", Alberto Fernández, who has a double approach: in one part his vision, seen from the outside, as the objective narrator, and from another point view the transcript of your inner speech.

Another of the narrators is the one nicknamed the "Boa", one of the cadets that belongs to the "Circle", who with an unconscious and emotional impulse, speaks about the events from an interior, subjective approach, with an outpouring of conscience.

Similarly, the other cadet Ricardo Arana, nicknamed the "Slave", narrates in an interior monologue, as well as Lieutenant Gamboa, does it in the same way. Much of the time, the Boa, does the work of narrator, being the case where it is evident that in fact when Serrano Cava is expelled.

From another perspective, seen from the outside, it corresponds to the Jaguar, being in the first person, narrates about his life and how he entered the military school, however, it can be seen that his mysterious identity is revealed at the end.

Synopsis of the City and the Dogs

The literary work The City and the Dogs recounts the experiences of the boarding students at the Leoncio Prado Military School, especially by Alberto Fernández “el Poeta”; The jaguar; Ricardo Arana "el Esclavo", Cava, El Boa, El Rulos, Brigadier Arróspide, and Vallano, who are in their last year of high school, first section, and yearn once and for all to leave the place where they are find.

Of all this group of students, the shyest is Ricardo Arana, so he constantly

mind is subdued by his classmates, so they nickname him "The Slave", being only him, who does not manage to fit in and feels that he does not fit in at school, despite living daily with his classmates in the classrooms and in the stables, named after the city and the dogs.

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Every dawn, the students get up first thing in the morning to line up and go to the classrooms. Lieutenant Gamboa is in charge of directing the formation and punishing the last three who take time to enlist. Young interns lead an intense and aggressive lifestyle for many.

The story of the work goes back to past times, when Alberto Fernández together with his classmates who have recently entered the military school, to study for their third year of high school, and receive "baptism", which is carried out by the students. fourth year, where fifth year students participate.

Baptism was treated in a humiliating way in front of the members of the school as if they were "dogs", aliases to identify them as students of lower grades.

Being, the Jaguar, the only cadet that they cannot "baptize", he resists violently and even dominates in the fight with a fourth year student. The baptism event lasted a month, the Jaguar and the students of the same section, make the decision to create a "Circle", to protect themselves and take revenge on the fourth year students.

Meanwhile, the Circle is discovered by Lieutenant Gamboa, which causes the entire section to be heavily punished. However, Jaguar keeps the group, but this time small with only three of his closest friends: Cava, Rulos, and Boa.

All of these carry out various feats, such as stealing uniforms to resell them, planning to enter alcoholic beverages and material classified as prohibited among pornographic magazines, cigarettes, among others, inside the school.

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They play games of dice and cards, they plan to steal exam answers; the literary work begins just at the moment that the theft of the chemistry exam is perpetrated.

The person in charge of carrying out the mission is Serrano Cava, who does not keep safety and care standards, so he damages and breaks a window pane, so the members of the "Círculo" are fearful and distressed by the fact to be discovered.

But, you are all confident of being discreet and not ratting anyone out or anything that happened. However, that same night, the Slave and Alberto, are assigned as guards on duty, and realize the theft.

In their sharing, Alberto and the Slave begin to get along and become friends, to the extent that they tell each other about all their intimacies. The slave was eager to go out for the weekend to visit the house of a young woman named Teresa, her neighbor, with whom he was infatuated, but he dared to declare her love for her.

The cadet Alberto, alias the Poet, was a very sought after companion by the other cadets, so that he would write love letters to his lovers and erotic novels, so the Slave asks him to write him several letters.

When the day of the chemistry exam arrived, and during the presentation, a carefully rolled paper with the answers to the exam is dropped on Alberto's folder, Lieutenant Gamboa observes and discovers it, to which he orders that the person in charge stand up.

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Nicknamed El Esclavo, he gets up pleading guilty, to which Gamboa punishes him by not letting him go out to enjoy the weekend. Precisely, that same Saturday, Alberto decides to take advantage of his outing to visit the famous "Golden Feet", a woman from the happy life of Jirón Huatica, in the district of La Victoria, likewise, he offers to take a letter that he sends him The Slave for Teresa, who lived in the district of Lince.

Alberto takes advantage of the occasion to invite Teresa to the movies, and feels that he begins to fall in love with her, however, he feels remorse for being disloyal to his friend. He returns to his house in Miraflores, to spend the night, he has no desire to visit "Golden Feet".

As the members of the Circle did not expect and feared, they discover the theft of the chemistry exam questions, and Lieutenant Gamboa locks up the cadets who were on duty that night, being the Slave and Alberto, forbidding them to leave until discover the real culprits.

The Slave, who already had several confinements to his credit, can no longer bear the punishment, and making the decision to stealthily leave the school, chooses to discover the culprit, Cava; then, he is dismissed and expelled from school. It was a punishment with a ghastly connotation, since the expelled student has no effect for all the years of study while he was in school.

The Jaguar and the other members of the Circle promise to find out who was the gossip and bring him his well-deserved punishment. Meanwhile, the Slave gets permission to leave school that same afternoon, and thus go to Teresa's house.

Alberto feels jealous, because he has fallen in love with Teresa, and runs away from school to buy time for the Slave. Once he gets to Teresa's, he realizes that the Slave hasn't come to visit her yet.

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Alberto takes the opportunity to declare his feelings and love for Teresa and she reciprocates. The Slave is not going to visit Teresa that day, because her parents did not allow him to leave her house.

The existence and development in the school, seems to carry the customary rhythm, but an unfortunate event occurs. Being a shooting practice outing, on the way to the camp on the outskirts of the school territory, Lieutenant Gamboa orders them to form lines to climb a small rise in the terrain, but during the operation, one of the students collapses fainted to the ground.

It was about the cadet El Esclavo, none of them realizes, until a long while, when they realize that he is seriously injured. An alleged bullet, apparently accidentally, hit him in the head.

Immediately, the Slave is transferred to the school clinic, but dies shortly after. His funeral rites are held throughout the military compound. While the school officials report that the cadet was the victim of his own failure, when he got entangled with the trigger, causing his gun to fire causing him to fall to the ground to death, the truth is that they hide the event when verifying that the shot came from behind.

They suspect a failure in the operations and hold Lieutenant Gamboa and the other officers responsible for not paying attention, however, in order to prevent a major scandal, they prefer to maintain the official option of the cadet's own fault.

Upon hearing the news, absolutely the entire section is impressed by the event. Alberto does not accept, so he does not believe in the official version of the death, and begins to suspect that it was an act of revenge by the members of the Circle, for the report of the theft of the chemistry exam.

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The act of the Jaguar being right behind the Slave at the time of the operations convincingly maintains his suspicion. Feeling overwhelmed by this idea, he leaves the school to visit Teresa, to tell her about the unfortunate event, she is stunned by the news, she only answers that she knows Ricardo very little, despite the fact that he is her neighbor, while she tries comfort Alberto, to which I ask him what other matter distressed him.

Alberto feels uncomfortable so he gets upset with Teresa, considering that she has an indolent attitude due to the death of his friend, and they end up arguing. Finally, Alberto says goodbye to Teresa, with a hunch from her that he would never see her again.

Between Alberto's desperation, he decides to go visit Lieutenant Gamboa at his house, in order to denounce Jaguar for being the Slave's murderer. Thus, as he tells her about the trafficking of alcoholic beverages, cigarettes, dice games, cards, and the theft of uniforms that the members of the Circle carried out hidden in the stables.

Lieutenant Gamboa tries to take the case to a real investigation, taking the decision to punish the Jaguar in the Prevention dungeon, and executes an inspection in the stables, checking everything that Alberto reported, however, to what it reveals about the murder, it is unsuccessful due to the lack of reliable evidence.

Cadet Alberto is persistent in the face of his complaint, but the officer with the highest rank, a colonel, calls him to come to his office, to demand that he not continue with his insistence, otherwise his version would be refuted, because the inspection made in the stables, revealed his requested erotic novels, with which his great imaginative mind would be demonstrated, leaving his reliability as a witness without effect.

Besides, he would be expelled as sexually depraved, so he would not be received in any other school. What makes Alberto give up and not continue with his complaint. For the moment, he is locked in the cell where El Jaguar was, waiting for the order from the lieutenant, to be sent back to the stable. Jaguar and Alberto contend.

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Every moment the Jaguar refuses to be the murderer of the Slave; while Alberto, for his part, reveals that it was he who blamed him before the lieutenant. The two get into a fight and hit each other a few times, with Alberto getting the worst of it. They were taken to the infirmary, and return to the stable.

The entire section is led by Brigadier Arróspide, they think that Jaguar was the one who confessed to the entry of liquor and cigarettes, and absolutely everyone is against him, many students surround him to beat him cruelly.

Despite what happened, El Jaguar does not denounce Alberto as the true informer, but he feels terrible about the mistreatment of his companions, whom he taught from the beginning how to defend themselves against the injustices of the elders.

Due to his persistence in investigating the death of the Slave, Lieutenant Gamboa is frowned upon by his superiors, and they decide to send him to a distant military base in Juliaca, a place where he will not have access to continue insisting on the case.

Prior to his departure, the Jaguar delivers a written letter to Lieutenant Gamboa in which he confesses that he was the one who murdered the Slave, thinking that with the confession the Lieutenant would be reinstated, however, he replies that it is already too much. late, because the Army authorities had made the decision that the death of student Ricardo was due to an accident, with the purpose of avoiding a scandal of great magnitude.

Before his transfer, Lieutenant Gamboa asks Jaguar to change his behavior and obtain some benefit from what happened.

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Over time, after finishing his studies at the military college, Alberto, who no longer keeps the young Teresa in his memories, makes his arrangements to travel to the United States, while the memories of the experiences at the College Leoncio Prado, are fading and becoming vague.

He gets to know a new member of his neighborhood, who goes by the name Marcela, and falls in love with her. Meanwhile, the Jaguar manages to find a job and meets his childhood love, Teresa, and marries her, which transforms the image that the reader had up to now about the Jaguar, he becomes a more complicated than expected at the moment.

What is particular about the history of the city and the dogs is that during the development the story of the Jaguar interferes, before his admission to the Military College, despite the fact that his name is not mentioned; It is only at the end that the reader who is not attentive to the details of the story realizes that it refers to the same character.

Main characters

In this part of the article, we are going to make known the different main characters that participated in this attractive play by the playwright Mario Vargas Llosa, the city and the dogs, which we will start with:

Alberto Fernandez "The Poet"

Alberto Fernández, known in the Circle by the nickname the Poet, is in his last year of high school, first section of the fifth, at the Leoncio Prado military school. He has the ability and intelligence to write erotic novels, as well as careful letters on the subject of love, which he gladly does and exchanges for money and cigarettes.

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Among his characteristics, he is a young man with white skin and lives in the Miraflores neighborhood. Alberto was still a child when he entered school, and comes from a separated family. Like his other companions, it was not easy for him to adapt to the new way of life applied by the military institution.

Alberto, the Poet, as well as other students called leonciopradinos, must assign themselves to a double identification: within the school grounds, and he himself expresses, that he has to be indifferent, strong and rude, but still not considering himself good for fights.

They were devised to get into the contests, seeking to avoid being "scrubbed", which has the meaning in the concept of the Leoncipradinos, which involved from unpleasant pranks to sexual abuse.

However, outside of the military school, when sharing with his friends from the Miraflores neighborhood, such as Tico and Pluto, his attitude was completely different: with them he did not have to appear indifferent or rude, because with them he did not dare to live distressing moments. nor violent.

The personality of Alberto, the Poet, was very different from that of Ricardo, the Slave, but this did not prevent them from becoming good friends, but he fell madly in love with Teresa; Ricardo's attractive loveliness, looking like this, the little esteem he felt at that time for the friendship that linked him to the Slave

In a regular activity of the military school, being a shooting maneuver, Ricardo Arana, falls dead. Alberto admits that his death was due to revenge against the Slave, for discovering Serrano Cava, when he stole the chemistry exam.

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After the event, Alberto feels the need to find the real culprit that caused his friend's death, to achieve this he reveals all his non-consensual exploits within the school, such as: smoking, drinking alcohol, among others, what generates many problems with the Jaguar.

The jaguar  

The Jaguar is a young man who comes from the Chalaco district of Bellavista, among his characteristics he is shown with a rough, agile and spirited temperament, his character is a product of the social environment where he grew up.

Once he enters the military school, he reveals his royal personality, by not accepting to be baptized, thus breaking the tradition of the students. So, it is he himself who is nicknamed the Jaguar, because of his speed to evade blows and his skill to deliver them.

From that moment of his nickname, the Jaguar, he has the initiative to form a group of his companions in the so-called "Circle", with the purpose of attributing a warrior spirit and courage, in the face of a violet and unjust life that they suffered daily.

In this environment, the Jaguar has a very significant role, all the experience within the military school, allows the young man, when facing any difficulty that may arise, to use all the knowledge he has to protect himself.

The Jaguar is a young man who does not defeat any fact, always demonstrating his strength and superiority before other people, he does not allow anyone to trample on him, acting with power and control that he has in front of his companions.

The Jaguar is present throughout the development of the novel, as can be seen not only in the central plot set in the Leoncio Prado military school, but also in many other narratives that interfere within it.

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However, his identity is not transparent from the beginning: he is a young man who recounts his life in the first person, before he entered the student campus, when he lives with his mother in a simple house, around Plaza Bellavista, and goes to the 1 de Mayo school in Callao.

Similarly, he talks about his intentions to win over his neighbor, a young woman his own age, named Teresa, whom he usually visits after leaving school, Rosa de Santa María; He also narrates the way that he was affected by harmful companies, which leads him to culminate in theft, then he escapes from his house, to go live with his godparents, being them the ones who make him enter the School Military.

It is usually interesting, when in the last part of the literary work, the mystery of this young man is known: it is Jaguar himself, who takes over the story, and ends up marrying Teresa, his friend and childhood lover. So, he can be described as the hero of the literary work The City and the Dogs.

Ricardo Arana, "The Slave"

This young man is one of the characters that marks protagonism within the literary work. His character is personified by having a submissive and obedient character, derived from his childhood where women had a decisive behavior.

Because of this behavior, his father, being an authoritarian and regal man, decides that he enter the Leoncio Prado Military School, where he is baptized along with his other classmates, just to transform him into a man.

Being in the military boarding school, where the law of the strongest prevailed, Ricardo received the nickname of the "Slave", because he appears as a victim in front of his companions.

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Despite the fact that the character has a passive character, he reveals his sentimental side when he shows his great affection that he secretly feels for Teresa, a young woman he met before entering the military school.

But, sadly, the Slave had a disastrous fate awaiting him, since his life would end with a shot to the head that ended his existence, it is likely that the murder was caused by the Jaguar, for reasons of revenge.

The gloomy fact ended up being covered up from the beginning by the military authorities of the student campus, because for them the main thing was to maintain the reputation of this famous university.


Teresa is the most important feminine personification that the literary work has. The author shows Teresa as an attentive, helpful, neat and delicate young woman, with what she projects to be a perfect feminine image in the existence of the three main characters who are: The Slave, the Poet and the Jaguar. Becoming, like the conquest of the love of the three, in specific parts of the novel.

Absolutely, all men have aspects in common, although the socio-economic and cultural differences are based on the very attribute of the human being, which is what the writer Mario Vargas Llosa, in his work The City and the Dogs, wants to express through Theresa's character.

They agree in wanting what they do not have, in longing to be loved, in the need for the spiritual, among many other aspects.

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The author Mario Vargas Llosa, highlights the human dimension, this being the most significant of the physical and economic. Presenting Teresa as a deserving and clean person, even though she is submerged in poverty, he reiterated that she does not dissipate humanity because of her scarce resources.

The fact that the protagonists fall in love with the young Teresa, in her personifies what the boys had to leave behind, in order to survive a stay in the military school.

For the Slave, it meant the peace he wanted after a stormy and brutal life. For the Poet, he represents lost innocence, when he is forced to enter the military school. While for the Jaguar it means life in a home that he never had.

At the beginning of the novel, the author narrates about Jaguar's obsession with the young Teresa, and everything he does motivated by the love he feels for her. Since her childhood, El Jaguar, always wanted to be by her side, looked for her to study, and always insisted on her way to school.

In the next part of the work the city and the dogs, it is found that the Jaguar is lost from sight, and then the Slave appears, who was secretly in love with Teresa. Later, as a result of the Slave, the Poet gets to know Teresa, and it happens that he sees her in the same way as her other companions.

He visualizes her as perfect and pure, knowing that his best friend was interested in her. However, after the death of the Slave, it is evident that the illusion of love for Teresa is vanished.

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But, finally, the destiny of the lives of Teresa and Jaguar, come together again, that after leaving the military school, they meet again and he proposes to marry her. The young Teresa accepts it, and says “yes”.

Secondary characters

The literary work the City and the dogs, has several secondary characters that are mentioned in the form of an outline, such as:

"The Boa"

El Boa, earns this nickname, thanks to his fierce behavior and great physical strength, he is also a participant in the chosen fifth-year group, called "El Círculo", made up of the bullies of the military school.

In addition, his nickname, which he dislikes, originates from his virile member, which is highly developed. Boa is also one of the narrators of the story, clearly one of only two in the first person.

El Boa, is the best friend of the leader of the Circle, El Jaguar. Boa is loyal to his friend and carries out all the instructions received, although he does not always agree with them, because he knows his friend's intelligence and barbarity will always prevail.

Boa is the only one who protects Jaguar, when all the classmates blame him as an informer, he also ends up holding hands and getting into heavy blows with Brigadier Arróspide.

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Boa is always cruel and impetuous, because the nature of the school rewards those qualities, and forms a system where whoever does not win will be defeated.

Although her stay is in a rough and brutal environment, Boa has a friend, the dog "Malpapeada", who is the school mascot. He admires the loyalty of the animal, which makes it become an escape from the environment where it is, it is the reason that his life moves according to that of the animal, he feels as a way to free himself and delivery of affections of protection and warmth. which he shares with the naive pet.

According to it, it is that Malpapeada personifies Boa himself, and his bond with the pear is similar to his relationship with the Jaguar, because the Boa is faithful and friendly with the Jaguar, without considering what happens or the abuses that he does to him. , just as Malpapeada does to Boa.

Porfirio Cava, "The Serrano"

Porfirio Cava, alias "el serrano", is one of the members of the "Círculo", his nickname is due to the fact that he is originally from the mountains, they still call him "el cholo". He is a physical peculiarity, special that he has hair growing all over his forehead, so he must shave, which generated ridicule among all his classmates.

After the Jaguar, it was the Slave who was most shaken, and several teachers, such as the French teacher, Fontana. El Serrano was one of the few students who truly had a vocation for a military career, and his dream was to become an artillery officer.

He was the one who was entrusted with stealing the chemistry exam questions, but, attacked by nerves, which causes him to break a glass of the window through which he enters to perpetrate the bad deed. His companions from the "Circle" claim him and call him ordinary.

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He is discovered by the Slave, which causes him to be publicly demoted and in turn expelled, loses all his years of study at the military school, and returns to his homeland, in utter frustration.

“The mountain people have bad luck, everything bad happens to them. It's lucky not to have been born in the mountains", comments the "Boa".

Lieutenant Gamboa

Lieutenant Gamboa is the tutor of the first section and is in charge of ensuring that everything runs smoothly and correctly.

It carries out an important role within the military institution, because it must be the patron and model to be followed by the cadets, as well as amend any abnormal situation that occurs within the school.

Lieutenant Gamboa rigidly complies with a training and teaching method, based especially on a rigorous and strict military discipline, his severe attitude makes him have the respect he requires to lead this society where the law of the strongest is imposed.

Although his behavior is generally fierce and brutal with the cadets, most of them, especially the Jaguar, respect and admire him for his courage and combat experience. Unlike most of the other officers at the college, Gamboa is a career soldier, who ensures and believes in the order, discipline, hierarchy and honor of the army.

The city and the dogs 22

When the death of Ricardo Arana, the Slave occurs, which is presumed by an accident, Gamboa, the cadet Alberto Fernández approaches him, to confess to him, who truly the Jaguar, had murdered the Slave.

Given the statement, Gamboa tries to cope according to his ethical principles, and prepares a report about the event to deliver to the school authorities, but they strictly choose to keep the theory that it is an error to cause of an accident, to prevent a scandal where everyone would be strongly compromised.

After personally questioning the Jaguar, Gamboa observes and verifies that he is truly the culprit, and urges him to continue with a severe investigation, which leads to his dismissal, and incidentally, they send him to an abandoned military post, a base that was left behind. far from any importance within the city of Juliaca.

Observing what was happening, the Jaguar reveals the truth, who it was that murdered the Slave, and states that he communicate it to the higher authorities, to rescue his military career, however, Gamboa tells him that it is already too late to do that, and that he has to change his attitude, and "make the best of it all." Gambia's departure causes a deep sequel to Jaguar, feeling guilty for everything that happens, and leads him to transform the course of his existence.

"The Rollers"

The one nicknamed the Curlers, is another member of the "Circle", of the bullies of the first section of the 5th year. He has the peculiarity that he entertains himself by bothering the Poet, and many thought that his behavior was out of envy.

Once all the companions jump on top of the Jaguar, accusing Curly of being the informer, he escapes, leaving his friend defenseless. Which is why he gets upset with Jaguar, to whom he never speaks again.

Brigadier Arróspide

Arróspide, is the brigadier in charge of collaborating with the section, and in the company of the Poet, of the few "white boys" called Miraflores from the military college, and the only ones in the section. He is a very diligent student, "a chancón", which in the Peruvian language, translates that he puts effort and interest, and is constant to achieve a job, especially when it comes to study.

The city and the dogs 23

This is the reason why he is elected as a brigadier for three continuous years. Likewise, he is the one who leads the entire section against the Jaguar, to the extent that they yelled at him in chorus and loudly “snitch”.

"The Black" Vallano

He is a cadet, with Afro-Peruvian origin, everyone calls him “el negro”, a nickname that in Peru is not insulting, depending on whether it is said in a derogatory tone. The fact of wearing the uniform and displaying it makes him feel great pride, especially on outings, according to him: “the cadet uniform attracts the females”.

The black man is the one who suggests to those on his block that they go visit the "Golden Feet", the prostitute of the Huatica jirón. Recurringly, he has verbal struggles with the Poet, however, he always comes out victorious.

"Golden Feet"

Golden Feet, is the name by which the prostitute is known who satisfied in the red zone of Lima, the jirón Huatica, in the district of La Victoria. She was a woman with small, thin features, curly blonde hair, with a very soft and clear complexion.

The alias of Golden Feet, is assigned to him because his feet were small, white and well cared for. She becomes the favorite of all the cadets of the first section of the 5th year.

He charged 20 soles for his services, and many of the cadets did everything they could to raise that sum of money, to attend on weekends, among them the Poet, who got the money by selling his passionate and pornographic novels, and writing letters addressed to love, which they made at his request.

The city and the dogs 24

The author of the work narrates that "Golden Feet" is the only character in real life, who has been loyally taken to the work, starting with his alias.


Paulino, known as the "graft", for his mix between a Japanese, black and cholo mestizo, was the one who ran a kiosk called "La Perlita", located near the back wall of the school, he sold candies, cookies and drinks.

He was the one who secretly took cigarettes and pisco to school, merchandise that he hid very well, and that he resold at a good high price. During the weekends, the cadets crowded into "La Perlita" to drink alcoholic beverages and smoke.

Paulino was homosexual, and in one of the scenes of the play, he is narrated having oral sex with a group of students, with the offer of awarding prizes, ten soles and a bottle of pisco, to those who will "last" longer.

Captain Garrido

Immediate superior of Lieutenant Gamboa, and his closest friend at the military college, he is also the only one who supports him to carry out the investigation of Arana's death, and the only officer who says goodbye to him, after being expelled from college.

Captain Garrido is the one who found the body of Ricardo Arana, who had vanished on the ground and was wounded by a bullet to the head while they were on target practice.

The city and the dogs 25

They describe him as: “…a tall man, with a pale skin tone, with a greenish tint to his cheekbones. They called him Piranha, because those carnivorous animals of the Amazonian rivers, their double row and large white teeth, which protruded from their lips, and their jaws were always moving.

Lieutenant Huarina

A small and deteriorated man, his commanding voice caused laughter, his tantrums did not scare anyone, the non-commissioned officers gave him the news without paying attention, they also looked at him with contempt.

He is one of the officers, who has under command the first division of the 5th year, but his order of authority is always not taken into account, in the presence of that of Lieutenant Gamboa.

It is to him that the Slave comes to accuse the highlander Cava, as the executor of the theft of the chemistry exam, but, Huarina, is attributed to him alone, the recognition before what was discovered.

Once Gamboa is changed to Juliaca, due to his constant insistence on thoroughly investigating the alleged murder of Ricardo Arana, Huarina takes his place, has the desire to win, but fails to have the respect of the students.

Petty Officer Pezoa is a “small mestizo with stocky muscles and a big mouth. He likes to play soccer, which he practices well, with a strong violet kick that characterizes him”.

The city and the dogs 26

The cynical cadets assign him the alias "rat", because he is always in charge of dishing out the punishments to the cadets with great pleasure. He is the most detested officer in the entire military college. Petty Officer Joaquín Morte accompanies Petty Officer Pezoa.

The service lieutenant, named Pedro Pitaluga, Gamboa's friend and comrade-in-arms since his beginnings in military school.

The commander named Altuna, a tall and strong man, was a "silent and slippery" character, who was rarely seen around the stables or in the classrooms.

The Colonel, who was the director of the military college, a small man, very fat, who “had white hair and wore glasses; Behind the glass, gray, sunken eyes can be seen.”

He is the one who advises the Poet, so that he does not insist on his complaint about the probable murder of the Slave.

The Major, third in command, manifests himself once Lieutenant Gamboa and Captain Garrido present the news about Cadet Arana's death, and he is the one who delivers the report about the attitude towards his superiors regarding Lieutenant Gamboa.

The Chemistry teacher, a run down and timid man.

Fontana, the French teacher. According to the narration of the author himself, this character is infused in the poet César Moro, who was actually a teacher at the Leoncio Prado military school.

Due to his delicate and fine expressions, apart from his soft voice, he is described as a “faggot” by his students; the most impertinent ones spit on him, while he has his back to the blackboard, or start making noise with razor blades, while he is giving the class.

Fontana serenely puts up with everything they do to him, and does not say anything to the officer on duty, so that he applies order, except once, when Lieutenant Gamboa interceded, an experience that made him feel very humiliated.

The chaplain of the school is a white priest, with blonde hair and a jovial and cheerful character, always enunciating patriotic scoldings, preaching love for God and country. But, he did not face the different events that were presented in the military school.

Other alternate story characters

The friends and relatives of the Poet: his parents, his friends from the Miraflores Tico and Pluto neighborhood, his girlfriend Marcela, among many others.

Jaguar's friends and relatives: his mother Domitila, his friend skinny Higueras, who takes him to the criminal world, his fellow thieves, his patrons who receive him, among others.

The parents of the slave Ricardo Arana.

Controversy The city and the dogs

It happens to hear that the literary work has an "autobiographical" character, however, the most accurate thing would be to comment that the narration is a fiction influenced by the experiences lived by the writer in his stay, for two years, in the Leoncio Prado military school. The writer Vargas Llosa himself expresses this aspect, leaving it clearly reflected in his memoirs:

"Most of the characters in my novel The City and the Dogs, written from memories of my Leonciopradian years, are very free and deformed versions of real models and others totally invented."

It is unappealable that true facts of the writer's life are insinuated in the work, while he remained at school, several of them are reflected in his memoirs, however, ultimately it should not be taken as a true and meticulous story.

Although, since its publication in Peru, the literary work the city and the dogs, generated a scandal, especially among the members of the leonciopradina society, who considered the work as demeaning for the house of military studies, until now it enjoys great reputation.

Many of the senior members of the military armed forces considered and stated that the novel the city and the dogs tainted the prestige enjoyed by the army.

The behavior of the homosexual Paulino, with many of the cadets, is undoubtedly the one that generated the most scandal, as well as the frightening attitude carried out by certain students with chickens, and with the pet the Malpapeada dog, being observed as misguided and shameful practices, or as they say in colloquial language "cochinadas".

The general named José Carlos Marín, one of the founders of the military college, came to express that the literary work the city and the dogs, was "an instrument by which the armed institutions are attacked, a typical tactic of communism." It has not been confirmed, but the old burning of the copies of the novel did take place, due to the actions of the military in the schoolyard.

Review in The City and the Dogs

In the literary work the city and the dogs, the author Mario Vargas Llosa, is introduced in a social, economic and political environment of his country. The characters in the play originate from various social spheres, and manifest the micro part of a society: Lima and Peru.

Covert in an appearance where tyrannies and obfuscations of all kinds bubble up, with an emphasis on race: whites, Indians, cholos and blacks, who confront each other; the regional: coastal, mountain and jungle, and the socio-economic aspect.

Likewise, the city and the dogs are palpable in the novel, the writer's antipathy towards inhuman and anti-democratic militarism. As a faithful and honest playwright of modern Latin American literature, Vargas Llosa uses crude language and black humor to achieve the critical effect that he tries to leave in the range of readers.

The technique of "communicating vessels", applied for the first time in this literary work with great skill, as described by the writer, in associating facts that happened in different times or spaces within a narrative, to merge them and make a new experience, different from the present one, if the episodes had been reported separately.

It is the reason, that the novel is narrated at different times, that on occasions, can make the reader lose what had happened up to that moment, however, it gives the story a bold character.

Although, there is no doubt, that the greatest enigma of the work lies in the death of the cadet Ricardo Arana, the Slave. However, because the Jaguar, at the end of the literary work, takes responsibility for his death, leaving forever an air of doubt. Consequently, the writer has narrated the following:

“I went to Mexico to see a great French critic, who directed the Gallimard literature commission. He had read my novel and I went to see him at his Unesco office. He told me that he liked the Jaguar character a lot because he attributes a crime that he did not commit to regain his authority over his companions. I told him: "the Jaguar did commit that crime."

Then, he looked at me and said: “You are wrong. You don't understand your novel. For the Jaguar, losing the lead was an infinitely greater tragedy than being considered a criminal." (His version of him) convinced me; although when I wrote the novel I thought that he had indeed killed him”.

The author, recovered the importance of the authenticity of the reader, about the truth of the writer: “A writer does not have the last word on what he writes. I think it's a big mistake to ask an author what this or that is like," he explained. That is why since then he has tried to maintain the doubt about the responsibility of the Jaguar in the crime, arguing that his characters "took their own lives, [and] they got out of hand"


The appearance of this novel, titled the City and the Dogs, marked a signal in the development of Hispano-American literary works, representing the overcoming of expressive provincialism, in popularity in the Latin American environment, and of the social novel, still predominating among Latin Americans. writers of Spanish origin.

Apart from everything, the magnificent work the city and the dogs, allowed the opening of the doors of the Iberian publishing industry, to different and varied Latin American writers, propitiating what is called Latin American success. Over time, authors of the category of Gabriel García Márquez, Julio Cortázar, José Donoso, Carlos Fuentes and Guillermo Cabrera Infante, universally known in the literary environment.

This majestic and interesting novel The city and the dogs, was included among the 100 best literary works in Spanish, belonging to the XNUMXth century, according to information from the Spanish newspaper El Mundo.

Between reality and fiction

The writer Mario Vargas Llosa has always expressed his need to motivate himself in real life people, and his communication with them, this occurs when he writes his works, however, in the development of his writing he usually deforms the characters; Of course, this specific work, the city and the dogs, has not been left behind.

The character, the Poet, Alberto Fernández Temple, as is clear, is inspired by himself, however it should be noted that the phases of other characters, such as the Slave, are also inspired by his own experience.

Being the case, for example, the tempestuous relationship of the Slave, with a cruel and loud father, who spent his life hurting his mother, in fact hitting her, is motivated by his own family experience.

The young playwright of Lima origin, named Sergio Vilela, has investigated in more depth this exciting activity of identifying who were the real people in real life, who led the author to be inspired to narrate the characters in this work.

Mario Vargas Llosa himself confessed that the Jaguar character was inspired by a cadet who had the last name of Bolognesi, a sarcastic and fighting boy, who already appears in his memoirs.

The Slave was inspired by another young man with the surname Lynch, a cadet who spoke little and had a calm character, perhaps the same one he named in his memoirs as "El Huevas Tristes".

With all this information, the young man from Lima penetrates to investigate, verifying the archives of the military school, and interviews the former fellow cadets who studied with Vargas Llosa. From this investigation, he was able to obtain the identification of the personifications: The Jaguar, whose name in fiction was not mentioned, however, it turned out that in real life, his name was Estuardo Bolognesi Cedrón, great-grandson of the hero of the Arica hill, and his nickname was “el Loco”.

Unlike his epic great-grandfather, Stuart, he did not continue with a military career, he worked for a significant insurance company, he died in 1974 in a traffic accident.

El Esclavo, in fiction the character of Ricardo Arana, in real life, was named Alberto Lynch Martínez, alias “el Nene”, or contemptuously “el Huevas”, who when Vilela's book was published, was living in Houston , United States, dedicated entirely to the world of business, and absolutely banished from his native country.

To conclude, we will talk about Teresa, being one of the few female personifications found in the work, she is inspired by a young woman named Teresa Morales. Who was the author's first love, being the year 1952, she lived in Miraflores, near the home of who was the adolescent Mario.

What is the City and the dogs about

"The City and the Dogs" is a novel that was published in 1962, where the cruelty carried out by a group of students studying at the military school in Lima, called Leoncio Prado, is recounted.

That through different narration resources, sufficiently innovating for those times, Mario Vargas Llosa, demonstrates the results of a training and education with a wrongly conceived military style, which is clearly reflected in his work the city and the dogs, and also denounces the corruption that world contains, and its threat that is always haunted.

The christening of a dog

The Leoncio Prado Military School is an institution of study, where many young people from different places attend, with the intention of studying the last three years of high school.

During their stay, students are subjected to immersion in a cruel and miserable environment.

The students who are already in their fourth year at school prepare an inhuman ritual, which they apply to the new students when they enter as new in that current year. In response to this, some young people form the so-called "Circle" it is a group that decide to take revenge on the fourth year students.

In the case of the play the city and the dogs, the leader is the Jaguar, a boy with a violent personality who plans strong combats against his opponents, and who stands out as the leader of the rest of the students whom he stimulates. with violence and cruelty.

Ricardo Arana, is the only one of the boys who keeps a low profile, he does it involuntarily, for this reason he is the victim of a cruel beating. From that moment on, he is attacked and mocked by the rest of his classmates.

Incidents at the military school

In this part of the article, we will talk about the incidents that marked the events of the student campus, such as:

The theft of the chemistry exam and the death of the cadet

One of the students in the classroom of the military school, Cava, is the one who is in charge of stealing the chemistry exam, carrying out the instructions given by Jaguar. The superior military authorities of the institution find out about the event, but they do not consider dedicating themselves to the investigation to identify the person responsible.

For this reason, they decide to threaten the students, while they lock them up and imprison them inside the school in a definitive way. After several weeks of confinement, the character alias the Slave, betrays Cava, in front of the officers, for which he is expelled.

But, it happens that during some shooting practice, a fatal event occurs. One of the cadets is shot in the head, not knowing where the bullet came from that killed the young and unfortunate cadet.

Alberto's testimony and the involvement of the Jaguar

Alberto Fernández, nicknamed the Poet, felt esteem for Ricardo Arana, the Slave. Reason for which he makes accusations before the oddities of his classmates from the military school, and denounces the Jaguar with Lieutenant Gamboa.

He has strong suspicions that he was the one who killed the Slave, but he does not have enough evidence. Lieutenant Gamboa's intervention does not make any difference; the higher authorities of the school do not accept that the investigation be carried out to prevent a scandal, which damages the image of the military institution.

They demand that Alberto not continue and that he shut up, while they manage and authorize the change of Lieutenant Gamboa. The cadets, who were punished for the Poet's denunciation, mistakenly believe they were ratted out by the Jaguar, in a moment of anger.

From that moment on, his classmates despise and offend him, being the first time it happens to him, an action that makes him feel totally alone.

Life after military school

From this behavior, the Jaguar, is disenchanted by the attitude of the vast majority of his companions, he tells them that he was the one who executed the crime. He enters into repentance, is interested in surrendering and willing to accept the consequences.

But Lieutenant Gamboa knows why no superior military authority shows interest in knowing his confidence. He tells her, let him learn from his mistake, and from now on rectify his fault, and get on with his life. To conclude, the Jaguar comes to his family completing the members of his family nucleus.

Current context

It is a novel named after the city and the dogs, which remains within high literary levels, being something that really happens within this type of school where students are trained under the military regime.

The young people are totally loyal to each other, they behave and act like a real family, well, it's the only thing they have within the institution, and it's all they talk about for many years.

Assessment of the work the City and the Dogs

As can be seen in the work, it shows a cruel and vile reality of military life, and even remaining under this mandate, all military ranks, and even the cadets of the military college, make it stronger daily.

The novel The City and the Dogs, by the writer Mario Vargas Llosa, presents a master story with great feeling, which teaches the entire Peruvian society, with its different social classes, and its range of participants.

It manages to narrate a story that is in time with the story, as well as the personal description of each of the narrators. The work is somewhat brutal, however, at the same time it is energetic and strives to relate the facts, managing to keep the reader attentive and curious about the events described.

To end this segment, the importance of each person having their own image and opinion about military life and those who make it up should be clarified and highlighted.

Dog Town Scenarios

The primary setting, where the work of the city and the dogs unfolds, is the Leoncio Prado Military College in Lima, and it is set around open plains. The main entrance to the school is guarded by a sentry box, known among them as Prevention.

Likewise, it is the place where the cadets are locked up, once they must comply with their punishments, it has an external patio nearby, where the image of the hero Leoncio Prado is exhibited.

From the “La Prevention” checkpoint, you can see about three giant blocks built in cement, where the third, fourth and fifth year blocks are. Inside, there is a gigantic studio, the athletics track and an old and destroyed wooden stands, as well as a swimming pool, from where you can see a construction that supports four large columns, called the Glorieta.

Likewise, other scenarios participate, such as the Lima neighborhood, where many of its characters live, such as: the Slave of the Lince district; the Jaguar of the Miraflores district. Huatica street in the district of La Victoria, territory where the most famous brothel in the capital is located, is also shown.

In the different accounts of the Poet and the Slave, other main places in Lima appear, such as: Nicolás de Piérola Avenue, Alfonso Ugarte Avenue, Salaverry Avenue, as well as other main capital roundabouts. The scenario of different stories of the Jaguar is indicated in the Bellavista district, and other spaces in Callao.

Film adaptations of the City and the Dogs 

The novel The City and the Dogs, by the writer Mario Vargas Llosa, has been present in the imagination of great filmmakers, which is why it has been taken to film productions, with special emphasis on the Peruvian named Francisco José Lombardi, whose premiere was held in the year 1985.

The script of the film was under the responsibility of the author Mario Vargas Llosa himself, and by José Watanabe.

Among the characters present were the following actors: Pablo Serra with the role of the Poet; Gustavo Bueno impersonating Lieutenant Gamboa, Luis Álvarez acting as the colonel; Juan Ochoa in personifying the Jaguar; Eduardo Adrianzén acting as the Slave; Aristóteles Picho as Boa, among many other participants.

This magnificent film was described as one of Lombardi's best cinematographic productions, and a demonstration of Peruvian cinema.

Likewise, there is another film production, which refers to this novel, the one titled "Jaguar", directed by the Chilean producer named Sebastián Alarcón. This work of the seventh art was produced in the Soviet Union

About the Author

The writer Mario Vargas Llosa, of Peruvian origin, won the 2010 Nobel Prize for Literature, a writer with a grandiose expression that amazes with his many other novels.

Copyright author of El País, and polemicist born in certain places of the political geography of Latin American culture, from where questions such as these frequently govern: how can the impoverished, chaotic and underdeveloped country that it is today be?

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