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the Complete Review
the complete review - drama


Kathie and the Hippopotamus

Mario Vargas Llosa

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Title: Kathie and the Hippopotamus
Author: Mario Vargas Llosa
Genre: Drama
Written: 1983 (Eng. 1990)
Length: 73 pages
Original in: Spanish
Availability: in Kathie et l'Hippopotame - France
  • All English editions of Kathie and the Hippopotamus are currently out of print
  • Spanish title: Kathie y el hipopótamo
  • Translated by David Graham-Young
  • Included in the collection Three Plays
  • Previously also translated as Kathie and the Hippopotamus by Kerry McKenny and Anthony Oliver-Smith, for the first English-language production in Edinburgh, 1986

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Our Assessment:

B : odd, surreal play, impressive in part

See our review for fuller assessment.

The complete review's Review:

       In Kathie and the Hippopotamus Kathie Kennety, a banker's wife, works together with a writer, Santiago Zavala, in creating an adventure story. Kathie tells her story, Santiago embellishes and transforms it, and it takes on quite a different shape from what either of them presumably expects. The telling itself also leads to the acting out of some of the scenes, the story quite literally taking on a life of its own as both characters burden it with their own expectations and dreams (including, amusingly, Santiago's Victor Hugo obsession).
       Vargas Llosa writes that:

My intention was to write a farce, by pushing the characters to the point of unreality (but not beyond because total unreality is boring)
       The episodes described in the story are often wild (including that around the hippopotamus of the title), and much is told in a fancy, ornate style. The confusion of conflicting hopes and stories and the transformation of ideas as first one then the other plays with them is fairly well done.
       It's an amusing play of the creative act, though parts can get tedious. It reads fairly well, and on the stage presumably much depends on how the actors manage this material -- if done well it probably makes for quite good entertainment.

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Mario Vargas Llosa: Other works by Mario Vargas Llosa under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Peruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa was born in 1936 and was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2010. He has written many works of fiction and non-fiction, and has run for the Presidency of Peru.

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