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Vargas Llosa has characterised himself as a ‘novelist intoxicated by reality, fascinated by the history being forged around us and by the past which still weighs so heavily upon the present’. This is an instructive description of the author of The Feast of the Goat (La fiesta del Chivo, 2000), a realist novel depicting historical events: the assassination in 1961 of the dictator Rafael Leónidas Trujillo Molina and the legacy of his regime, which was still very evident in the Dominican Republic in the 1990s,when some of its scenes are set.
Trujillo, known as ‘el Chivo’, both owing to his reputation as an indefatigable stud and because of the word's association with the Devil, ruled that country in person or by proxy from 1930 until his death. He was one of the most cynical, sanguinary and absurdly histrionic of twentieth-century dictators, creating a police state, terrorising his subjects through a network of thugs and informers, and accumulating political, legal, military and economic power that turned the Dominican Republic into his and his grasping family's private fiefdom. Even more sinister was the control his propaganda machine and cult of personality enabled this lethal megalomaniac to exert over the minds of his subjects. Trujillo was the creature of the USA, trained by the Marines and ruling with the support of successive administrations in Washington, which he was careful to cultivate by presenting himself as a bulwark against communism while bankrolling American politicians and opinion-formers.
What follows is a short report on the Business Meeting of the Astronomy and World Heritage Working Group held on Thursday August 6, 2009. This was the first formal Business Meeting of the Working Group since its formation following the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the IAU and UNESCO on Astronomy and World Heritage in October 2008.
There is a dearth of research into the mental health of gay men, lesbians and bisexual men and women in the UK.
To assess rates and possible predictors of mental illness in these groups.
A comprehensive assessment was made of the psychological and social well-being of a sample of gay men, lesbians and bisexual men and women, identified using ‘snowball’ sampling.
Of the 1285 gay, lesbian and bisexual respondents who took part, 556 (43%) had mental disorder as defined by the revised Clinical Interview Schedule (CIS – R). Out of the whole sample, 361 (31%) had attempted suicide. This was associated with markers of discrimination such as recent physical attack (OR=l.7, 95% CI 1.3–2.3) and school bullying (OR=l.4, 95% CI 1.1–2.0), but not with higher scores on the CIS-R.
Gay, lesbian and bisexual men and women have high levels of mental disorder, possibly linked with discrimination.
It is the fate of fine comic writers to be taken seriously. Masters of entertainment like Cervantes and Molière have been woefully misused by those who consider humour and the spinning of a good tale to be worthy of a distinguished artist only when a vehicle for something else. Reappraisals of these two writers have, however, helped to rescue them from critics intent on extracting complex philosophies or literary theories from their comic works. Such reappraisals suggest that García Márquez might similarly be examined with profit first and foremost as a humorist, for there are already clear signs that he is not to escape the fate of his predecessors. One Hundred Years of Solitude, the novel which brought him fame and on which his reputation still largely rests, has been called a work of ‘deep pessimism’, ‘an interpretative meditation’ upon the literature of the sub-continent, or an analysis of ‘the failure of Latin-American history’. Isolated passages of the novel could, at a pinch, be made to support such assertions, but these interpretations will not help us to understand it as a whole nor to account for its remarkable popularity among a heterogeneous readership which has scant knowledge of the history of Colombia or of the recent literary production of Spanish America. Humour, however, can cut across cultural and even linguistic boundaries, appealing to the least and most sophisticated and knowledgeable readers.
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