The Amazonian region occupies a singular place in the fiction and nonfiction of the Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa. Author of paradigmatic novels on the Peruvian Amazon, Vargas Llosa nevertheless has repeatedly defended extensive exploitation of Amazonian natural resources—at the expense of Indigenous rights and environmental conservation—in his essays and political activities. This article discusses this conflict between Vargas Llosa's fictional and nonfictional work on the Amazon through the lens of a theory of fiction that emerges from his essays across decades and that suggests that the fictional text is independent from the referential reality it represents. By revisiting his novels and writings about fiction, this article argues that Vargas Llosa's belief in the autonomy of fiction from its referential reality explains, to a certain extent, how the fascination with the Amazon present in the author's novels coexists with his defense of drastic changes in the region through environmental exploitation and the acculturation of Indigenous populations. While Vargas Llosa's work enjoyed a positive reception in the 1960s, the nontransitive notion of mimesis he proposed has gradually taken on reactionary undertones in the context of changing expectations since the 1980s and 1990s.

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