Argentine literature

Argentine literature

Argentine literature is among the most important national literatures written in the Spanish language. World-famous Argentine writers include José Hernández, Roberto Arlt, Jorge Luis Borges, Julio Cortázar, Manuel Puig, Juan José Saer and Ernesto Sábato. Like other aspects of the Argentine culture, literature in Argentina has been subject to heavy European influence, especially from Spain and France.



Argentine literature began around 1550 with the work of Matías Rojas de Oquendo and Pedro González de Prado (from Santiago del Estero, the first important urban settlement in Argentina), who wrote prose and poetry. They were partly inspired by oral aboriginal poetry--in particular, according to Carlos Abregú Virreyra, by the "lules", "juríes", "diaguitas" and "tonocotés". A symbiosis emerged between the aboriginal and Spanish traditions, creating a distinct literature, geographically limited (well into the 18th century) to the Argentine north and central regions, with the province of Córdoba as its center. Two names stand out from this period: Gaspar Juárez Baviano, and Antonia de la Paz y Figueroa, also known as "Beata Antula".

Gradually, with the economic prosperity of the port, the cultural axis moved eastward. The letters of the colonial age (Viceroyalty-neoclassicism, baroque and epic) grew under the protection of the independentist fervor: Vicente López y Planes, Pantaleón Rivarola and Esteban de Luca.

Cultural independence from Spain

Argentina's break with Spanish tradition, in favor of the French romanticism postulating the return to popular sources and to the medieval, allowed Esteban Echeverría to write the first local and realistic story, "El Matadero" ("The slaughterhouse"), as well as the poem "La Cautiva" ("The Captive"), with the Pampas as its stage. His barbed wit and opposition to powerful Buenos Aires governor Juan Manuel de Rosas forced him into exile. In the middle of the 19th century, José Mármol published the first Argentine novel, "Amalia". Poetry lessened in combative spirit and turned towards the anecdotal and sentimental: Carlos Guido y Spano and Ricardo Gutiérrez, the chronicle writers of folk literature; Vicente Fidel López, Lucio V. Mansilla and Juana Manuela Gorriti; and the historical ones: Bartolomé Mitre and Domingo F. Sarmiento.

Generation of 1880

The generation of 1880 emphasized the European color and cultural supremacy of Buenos Aires. The migratory current of mixed ethnicity accentuated the change of the "big village" for the "cosmopolitan metropolis". The poetry of this period is lyric: Leopoldo Díaz y Almafuerte.

Essay is a recent genre that developed in the late 19th century: José Manuel Estrada, Pedro Goyena and Joaquín V. González. Narrative works oscillated between social issues and folk literature: Miguel Cané, Eugenio Cambaceres, Julián Martel y Carlos María Ocantos.

"Literatura Gauchesca"

While European-oriented, indeed Euro-centric, themes and styles would remain the norm in Argentine letters, especially from Buenos Aires, a picturesque, imitation-gaucho literature, purporting to use the language of the gauchos and to reflect their mentality, arose in the 1880s as a part of that generation's understanding of national identity. The three great figures in this trend, José Hernández, Estanislao del Campo, and Hilario Ascasubi, immediately became, and have remained, among the most popular figures of a unique genre in Argentine and Uruguayan literature, the "gauchesco" or "gauchoesque" style.


Towards the end of the nineteenth century, led by the Nicaraguan Rubén Darío, modernism appears in Latin American literature. Preciosity of manner and a strong influence from symbolism sum up the new genre, which inspires the clearest voice in poetry, Leopoldo Lugones, who was the author of the first Argentine science fiction story. The first truly modern generation in Argentine literature is the Martinfierristas (c. 1922). The movement contributes an intellectual doctrine in which a number of current trends come together: the trend represented by the Florida group, adscript to ultraísmo, with Oliverio Girondo, Jorge Luis Borges, Leopoldo Marechal and Macedonio Fernández; and the trend of Boedo, impressed by Russian realism, with Raúl González Tuñón, César Tiempo y Elías Catelnuovo. Ricardo Güiraldes, however, remains classical in style, giving a whole new freshness to "gauchesca" poetry and writing what is perhaps the novel, "Don Segundo Sombra".

Benito Lynch (1885-1951), an eccentric short-story writer who, like Güiraldes, does not easily fit into any "generation", wrote his quirky tales in an enchanted new-"gauchoesque" manner about this time. Between the end of this decade and the beginning of the following one emerged the "Novísimos" ("Newest"), a generation of poets (Arturo Cambours Ocampo, Carlos Carlino and José Portogalo), fiction writers (Arturo Cerretani, Roberto Arlt, Luis Maria Albamonte and Luis Horacio Velázquez) and playwrights (Roberto Valenti, Juan Oscar Ponferrada and Javier Villafañe). The group promoted philosophical reflection and a new essence for "Argentinidad". Leopoldo Marechal's novel Adán Buenosayres, published in 1948 and praised by Julio Cortázar in 1949.

Also worthy of note is the literary work of Leonardo Castellani (1899-1981), a Jesuit priest who left a considerable bulk of essays, novels, tales and poetry. Expelled from the Company of Jesus, the outspoken Castellani was also widely ignored - like his contemporary Marechal - by the literary "intelligentsia" of his time due to his nationalist ideology.

Generation of '37

The "Generation of 1937" centers on poetry, where it developed the descriptive, nostalgic and meditative in the work of Ricardo E. Molinari, Vicente Barbieri, Olga Orozco, León Benarós and Alfonso Sola Gonzáles. Fiction writers subscribed to idealism and magic realism, (María Granata, Adolfo Bioy Casares, Julio Cortázar) or to a subtler form of realism Manuel Mujica Laínez, Ernesto L. Castro, Ernesto Sábato and Abelardo Arias) with some urban touches, as well as folk literature (Joaquín Gómez Bas and Roger Plá).

Essayists do not abound: Antonio Pagés Larraya, Emilio Carilla, Luis Soler Cañas are some of the few exceptions; but, of course, the greatest Argentine essayist after Sarmiento, Ezequiel Martínez Estrada, belonged to the Generation of '37. Many of these writers and a number of European ones contributed extensively to "Sur", a literary journal published by Victoria Ocampo, a noted commentator on the day's culture.

Neohumanism, Existentialism and other influences

In 1950, another milestone arose: the New Humanism, a response to World War II and its aftermath. On one level are avant-gardists like Raúl Gustavo Aguirre, Edgar Bayley and Julio Llinás; on another, existentialists: José Isaacson, Julio Arístides and Miguel Ángel Viola. Further away are those who reconcile both tendencies with a regionalist tendency: Alfredo Veiravé, Jaime Dávalos and Alejandro Nicotra. Other fiction writers left a highly charged testimony of the times: Beatriz Guido, David Viñas, Marco Denevi and Silvina Bullrich. In a majority of the writers, a strong influence of Anglo-Saxon and Italian poetry can be perceived. Of particular interest are the poetic works of two of Marechal's disciples, the poets Rafael Squirru and Fernando Demaría.

A new trend started in 1960, continuing until about 1990. Its influences are heterogeneous: Sartre, Camus, Eluard; some Spanish writers, like Camilo José Cela; and previous Argentine writers like Borges, Arlt, Cortázar and Marechal. Two trends were in evidence: the tracing of metaphysical time and historicity (Horacio Salas, Alejandra Pizarnik, Ramón Plaza) and the examination of urban and social disarray: (Abelardo Castillo, Marta Lynch, Manuel Puig, Alicia Steinberg).

Dark military days

The 1970s are a dark period for intellectual creation in Argentina. The sign of the epoch is exile (Juan Gelman, Antonio Di Benedetto) or death (Roberto Santoro, Haroldo Conti, and Rodolfo Walsh). Remaining literary journalists, like Liliana Heker, veiled their opinions in their work. Some journalists (Rodolfo Walsh), poets (Agustín Tavitián and Antonio Aliberti), fiction writers (Osvaldo Soriano, Fernando Sorrentino), and essayists (Ricardo Herrera, María Rosa Lojo) stand out among the vicissitudes and renew the field of ethical and aesthetic ideas.


The 1990s are marked by reunion among survivors of different generations, in an intellectual coalition for the review of values and texts as Argentina faced the end of the century.


Ernesto Che Guevara was an Argentine, born in Rosario. Besides his armed struggles and political involvement with Fidel Castro's government in Cuba, he wrote "The Motorcycle Diaries", about his travels around Argentina and South America, which was recently made into a movie.

ee also

*Latin American Boom
*Latin American literature
*Latin American poetry
*Cultural movement

External links

* [ Historia de la Literatura Argentina] (Spanish)
* [ Literatura Argentina] (Spanish)
* [ Generaciön del 37] (Spanish)
* [ Biblioteca básica de literatura argentina]
* [ Scanner cultural]
* [ La inmigración en la Literatura Argentina] (Spanish)
* [ Orígenes de la Literatura Argentina] (Spanish)
* [ Dossier Juan L. Ortiz]
* [ Argentine Literature in] (English)

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Literature by country — History of Literature Bronze Age literature Sumerian Egyptian Akkadian Classical literatures …   Wikipedia

  • Argentine cuisine — This article is part of the series …   Wikipedia

  • literature — /lit euhr euh cheuhr, choor , li treuh /, n. 1. writings in which expression and form, in connection with ideas of permanent and universal interest, are characteristic or essential features, as poetry, novels, history, biography, and essays. 2.… …   Universalium

  • Argentine rock — The moment when Argentine rock began as a distinct musical style can be traced to the middle 1960s, when several garage groups and aspiring musicians began composing songs and lyrics that related to local social and musical themes. Rock Roll… …   Wikipedia

  • Argentine air forces in the Falklands War — This article describes the composition and actions of the Argentine air forces in the Falklands War (Spanish: Guerra de las Malvinas ). For an overview of the air forces of the United Kingdom, see British air services in the Falklands… …   Wikipedia

  • Argentine Academy of Letters — The Argentine Academy of Letters (Castilian : Academia Argentina de Letras ) is the academy in charge of studying and prescribing the use of the Spanish language in Argentina. From its establishment, on August 13, 1931, it has maintained ties… …   Wikipedia

  • New Zealand literature — Literature Portal Topics Epic • Romance • Novel • Prose • Poetry • Books • Authors • Awards • Basic Topics • Literary Terms • Criticism • Theory Middle Eastern Literature Ancient… …   Wikipedia

  • Afro Argentine — Infobox Ethnic group group = Afro Argentine Africano Argentino caption = Notable Afro Argentines: Ramón Carrillo • Gabino Ezeiza • Fidel Nadal poptime = 52,000 [cite web |url= |title=Afro… …   Wikipedia

  • American literature — For the journal of the same name, see American Literature (journal). American literature is the written or literary work produced in the area of the United States and its preceding colonies. For more specific discussions of poetry and theater,… …   Wikipedia

  • 20th century in literature — History of modern literature The early modern period 16th century in literature | 17th century in literature European literature in the 18th century 1700s | 1710s | 1720s | 1730s | 1740s | 1750s | 1760s | 1770s | 1780s | 1790s | …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”