Interpreting the World: Notes of the Uses of Fiction
"The duty and task of a writer are those of an interpreter", writes Marcel Proust in the last volume of In Search of Lost Time. In these four lectures, Juan Gabriel Vásquez discussed how that interpretation takes place and why it affords us an understanding of life that can't be found elsewhere. Fiction, he argued, is uniquely able to translate the complexities of experience—our mysterious lives, our relationship with the past, our political selves—into knowledge and illumination. These lectures asked us to refine the uses of fiction, how we understand what it does, and why, in our present time, it is probably more indispensable than ever.
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Juan Gabriel Vásquez is the Weidenfeld Visiting Professor in Comparative European Literature. An acclaimed novelist, his books include the International IMPAC Dublic Literary Award winner and bestseller The Sound of Things Falling (El ruido de las cosas al caer), and Man Booker International finalist The Shape of the Ruins (La forma de las ruinas), as well as the award-winning Reputations, The Informers, The Secret History of Costaguana, and the story collection Lovers on All Saints' Day. His books have been published in twenty-eight languages worldwide. After sixteen years in Europe, he now lives in Bogotá.