Chile Literature in the 20th Century

By | December 6, 2021

In the 20th century novel. the interest in the criollo environment is accentuated and starting from the Cuentos de Maule (1912) by M. Latorre the life in the fields, the struggle of man with the land constitute the central nucleus of the narrative. Venidos a menos (1916) by R. Maluenda, followed by Colmena urbano (1937), marks the start of a new orientation which he finds in the novels by O. Castro, Llampo de sangre (1950) and La vida simplemente (1951) an expansion of themes and a structural balance. In the early 1960s, the new Latin American novel exerted a disruptive effect on Chilean fiction, freeing it from the dogmas of social realism and the Criollo novel. The ensuing structural and ideological innovations give life to works in which reality is no longer faithfully described, but transformed by the imagination and sometimes deformed, as in El obsceno pájaro de la noche (1970) and Casa de campo (1978) by J. Donoso, one of the greatest architects of the renovation, and El peso de la noche (1962) by J. Edwards. The realist writers of the previous generation do not leave the scene, many of whom develop their work in new directions: Chile Droguett (Todas esas muertes, 1971; El hombre que trasladaba las ciudades, 1973); G. Atías, who published in France a novel on the presidency of S. Allende (Le sang dans la rue, 1978, original title La contracorriente); V. Teitelboim, committed to representing the Chilean reality in novels (The internal war, 1979) and essays; F. Alegría, author of novels (Amérika, Amérikka, Amérikkka, 1970; El paso de los gansos, 1975; Coral de guerra, 1979) and numerous critical works. The experience of the 1973 coup d’état provokes the choice of exile in various cases and ensures that many writers cannot ignore a strong reference to history. This is the case of Donoso, who continues to write outside of Chile and after his return home he publishes a series of novels on exile, the difficulty of returning, the disappearance of a regretted world (El jardín de al lado, 1981; Desesperanza, 1986). In exile or in the difficult conditions of the dictatorship, E. Lafourcade also continues to work (Salvador Allende, 1974; Adiós al Führer, 1982) and other writers. The younger narrators, who have suffered most from the crisis caused by the violent end of democracy, seem to prefer the theme of nostalgia and reflection on the country’s bloody recent history: for example, the lacerating stories of the novels Los recodos del silencio (1981) and El obsesivo mundo de Benjamín (1982) by A. Ostornol. The testimony is often proposed in a metaphorical and allegorical key, as in the short stories Entre paréntesis (1985) and in the novel Óxido de Carmen (1986) by AM del Río or in the novel Nada terminado (1984) by D. Muñoz Valenzuela; the interior monologue or the epistolary form support existential concerns in the stories of Atrás sin golpe (1985) by R. Díaz Eterovic and in those of No queda tiempo (1985) by J. Calvo, while in Lumpérica (1983) and Por la patria (1986) by D. Eltit a transgressive and highly experimental writing becomes a weapon of liberation, a vehicle for the reconstruction of a personal and collective history. In the large group of writers who lived the experience of the Allende government there are also authors who have known an international success, such as A. Skármeta, to whose fame the successful film adaptation (Il postino, 1994, played by M. Troisi) of the novel Ardiente paciencia (1985); and above all I. Allende, who has published a series of novels poised between autobiography and fiction, between past and present, between the Spanish-American world of origin and the Anglo-American one. The editorial success of L. Sepúlveda is also noteworthy. After novels engaged on the ecological side, he tackled the traditional theme in Spanish-American literature of the relationship between civilization and barbarism. Belonging to the same generation, but extraneous to the experience of exile, the writer M. Serrano who, to the lucky Nosotras que nos queremos tanto (1991), followed by other novels built around inner conflicts of women who, through sentimental experience, come to the awareness of the country’s social and political conflicts (Antigua vida mía, 1995; El albergue de las mujeres tristes, 1997). For Chile 1999, please check estatelearning.com.

The vitality of the Chilean theater is linked to the university theaters (Teatro experimental de la universidad de Chile and Teatro de ensayo de la universidad Católica), which have been active since the 1940s. In this context, a theater with a neorealist imprint is developed, militant and aimed at a popular public, which finds the happiest results in the Brechtian-inspired works of I. Aguirre (Los papeleros, 1963; Los que van quedando en el camino, 1969). In the 1960s, the university theaters became the place for welcoming avant-garde proposals, of which the maximum exponent was J. Díaz, animator of the independent group Ictus, which in 1961 staged Un hombre llamado Isla and El cepillo de dientes. In the 1970s, the phenomenon of collective theater became prevalent which, putting the author in the background, attributes the task of developing and critically controlling the text to actors and technicians. After a moment of crisis, around 1976 theatrical life begins to flourish thanks to the constant activity of the Ictus group and the creation of new independent theaters such as the Imagen Theater, the La Feria Theater, the Taller de investigación teatral, which recover authors of the past. or stage new authors such as J. Pineda, J. Radrigán (Testimonio de las muertes de Sabina, 1979), D. Benavente, MA de la Parra (La secreta obscenidad de cada día, 1984; El deseo de toda ciudadana, 1987), J. Miranda (Regreso sin causa, 1984), R. Griffero ( Historias de un galpón abandonado, 1983).

Chile Literature in the 20th Century