“I am very excited to be the first Latin American that the Academy receives in its midst. When I began to write, French culture was immensely popular in Latin America and, of course, it had a great influence on me,” said the writer.
Vargas Llosa, who will occupy chair 18, becomes “immortal” with his appointment, the name by which the members of this institution founded in 1635 by Cardinal Richelieu to ensure the French language are known.
The decision had to be approved by an absolute majority and the session took place in private and without the presence of the applicants, among whom were also writers such as Éric Dubois.
Vargas Llosa, who has been a member of the Royal Spanish Academy since 1994, presented his candidacy on October 7 after sending a letter to the current perpetual secretary of the conclave, the historian Hélène Carrère d’Encausse.
It was an unusual candidacy both due to the age of the author (according to the regulations they cannot enter over 75 years) and because he writes in Spanish and not in French.
“I am very grateful to the academics who have been so generous to me,” he said.
The author of ‘The city and the dogs’, ‘Conversation in the cathedral’, ‘The feast of the goat’ or ‘Pantaleón and the visitors’ assured that his life in Paris, where he arrived for the first time in 1959 and where he lived in total eight years, definitively marked his career.
“In those years I became a writer,” he pointed out. “I believe that many of the things that I have practiced in literature came from the influence of Flaubert, whom I have read and reread and still reread from time to time, with great admiration and as a dedicated disciple of him.”
His candidacy had received the public support of several current members of the Academy, such as Alain Finkielkraut, Chantal Thomas, Érik Orsenna or Jean-Christophe Rufin, but that select club had already warned that the vote could also go blank if a agreement.
The Academy will organize in the coming months the ceremony of taking possession of its seat, open to about 300 guests and in which the writer will have to intervene.
At this reception, the new “immortal” – dressed in a recognized green embroidered uniform, with the traditional sword and welcomed by his two godparents within the institution – will praise his predecessor and take possession of a seat that will be exclusively yours until your death.
In that act a word from the dictionary will be attributed to him and he will receive an Academy medal engraved with his name and the motto “To immortality”.
As an academic, as he pointed out to Efe, he will turn his work into the defense of the purity and wealth of the French, but he will try that his position also in the Royal Spanish Academy serves to bring both entities closer together.
“The French Academy was founded a few years before the Spanish and I think they have been very separate; so one of my jobs will be to bring them closer together and see if they can work together, especially in the defense of the purity of languages, which I think it is very important from a literary and spoken language point of view, “he concluded.