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Topic: Argentine Writers

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Subject: Argentine Writers
Date Posted: 4/10/2011 4:56 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
Posts: 1,427
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Jorge Luis Borges, "the single most immportant writer of short fiction in the history of Spanish American literature" was recommended in an earlier post.  Three other Argentinian writers worthy of consideration by those wishing to become familiar with Latin American literature are:Julio Cortázar (1914-1984); Ricardo Güiraldes ((1886-1927); and Domingo Faustino Sarmiento (1811-1888).

The best-known work of Cortázar is a strange one indeed, an experimental novel, Rayuela, published in 1963, and translated into English as Hopscotch, published in 1966. With it, the author would have the reader proceed as in a game of hopscotch, jumping back and forth among the 155 chapters.  Because Cortázar defied the narrative "rules" (such as the three "unities"), so that the story has no "end", some critics proclaimed it an "anti-novel".  Nevertheless, it was a success.  (If you hate "mind games" you will probably have difficulties with this book, no matter whether you read Chapters 1 through 56 in the "conventional"  manner, or follow the author's "Table of Instructions" and begin at Chapter 73 and jump back and forth between chapters.)   The London Times book critic called Hopscotch "the first great novel of Spanish America."   (The beginning of the "boom" in Latin American literature in the Sixties can be said to have been signalled by the award of the international Fomentor prize in 1961 to Borges.)

Ricardo Güiraldes' Don Segundo Sombra, an adventure novel published  in Spanish in 1926 and in English translation in 1935, is THE classic novel of the gaucho (horseman of the Argentine pampas).   This book is a kind of Latin American Huck Finn, for, in its pages, young Fabio, the bastard son of a rancher, neglected by his father, comes under the aegis of the elderly gaucho, Don Segundo Sombra, in late 19th century Argentina.  Fabio learns the skills and code of the gaucho and grows to manhood.  Towards the end of the book, Fabio inherits the ranch and becomes responsible for its operation.  The ultimate scene in the book is poignant, with Fabio obliged to say Adios, forever, to his beloved mentor.    The "gaucho novel" is the equivalent in Latin American literature of  the "Western" (e.g. a book by Zane Grey, Owen Wister, or Louis Lamour)., and the substantial amount of "gaucho poetry"  in Latin American literature rather out-classes (IMO) the "cowboy poetry" of English.

Civilización y barbarie: vida de Juan Facundo Quiroga (1845), by Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, was translated into English by Mrs. Horace Mann as Life in the Argentine Republic in the Days of the Tyrants, or, Civilization and Barbarism   The second of its three parts is an account of the gaucho leader, Facundo, in the fight against the mid-19th century dictator, Juan Manuel de Rosas, whose bloody tyranny lasted 17 years.  (Further information about the Rosas dictatorship may be found in Bloody Precedent, by Fleur Cowles (a U.S. journalist).

Last Edited on: 12/27/12 5:56 PM ET - Total times edited: 10