Uruguay Literature Part II

By | December 20, 2021

It is natural that the “generation of ’45”, also known as the “generation of criticism”, carried out a large and often qualified essay activity, both in the pages of magazines such as Marcha or in the Cuadernos de Marcha or in other magazines, and in volumes monographic or various. Non-fiction now of a historiographic nature, now of a sociological or political character, now of a literary nature. In the large number of writers interested in historical and social aspects, at least the names of CM Rama should be mentioned, author of a book also translated in Italy, The Latin American Labor Movement (Florence 1969), and of an essay on Garibaldi y el Uruguay (1968); by J. Barreiro, author of Violencia y política en América Latina (1971); by C. Quijano, director of Marcha and author of La reforma agraria en el Uruguay (1963); and by R. Faraone (born in 1929), author of El Uruguay en que vivimos (1972), a valuable guide to recent knowledge of the country. In the particular field of criticism and literary essays, the works of E. Rodríguez Monegal (born in 1921), now a professor at Yale University, author of books on Neruda, Borges, Quiroga, Bello, and two volumes on Narradores stand out. de esta América (1977-78); of the aforementioned M. Benedetti, author of Letras del continente mestizo (1967) and of the miscellaneous volume El recurso del supremo patriarca (1979); by C. Real de Azúa (1916-1978), author of essays on Artigas and Rodó, and of an excellent Antología del ensayo uruguayo contemporáneo ; and A. Rama (born in 1926), now professor at the Central University of Caracas, director of the series of Latin American classics Biblioteca Ayacucho, author of many essays and studies, including some on the literature of his country, on Rubén Darío (his is the long introduction to poetry full of Nicaraguan, 1977), the gaucho literature (poetry and prose), etc., and the recent book Los dictadores latinoamericanos (1976), which examines the novels of A. Carpentier, G. García Márquez and A. Roa Bastos on the theme of tyranny. For Uruguay 2010, please check programingplease.com.

Perhaps due to the influence of the boom of the Latin American novel or perhaps due to the impulse of the events that have suddenly changed the face of the already peaceful and democratic Uruguay (once called the “Switzerland of Latin America”) into a military dictatorship of a fascist type, the fact is that the younger generation is more oriented towards testimonial or strictly narrative literature, rather than towards poetry. In this regard, the most interesting example is that of E. Galeano (born in 1940), who begins with Los días siguientes (1963), a collection of stories very different from those of the following book, Los fantasmas del día del león ( 1967), already marked by a moral concern, and even more so with the chronicles of Días y noches de amor y de guerra (1978), where he narrates the recent events of violence and willfulness that have engulfed his country. Moreover, for the same reason, he has undertaken to write works which show his commitment as a journalist and as a militant intellectual, such as the two books that have been translated into Italy: one on Guatemala (Bari 1968) and the other, which in the original is entitled Las venas abiertas de América Latina, which appeared with us under the title The pillage of Latin America (Turin 1976). Similar is the itinerary of C. Peri Rossi (born in 1941), who first published the stories of Los muséos abandonados (1968) and later those of La tarde del dinosauro (1976), where the cruel world is often seen with the innocent and at the same time shadowless eyes of children: and that of two other finely gifted writers: S. Lago, author of Las flores conjuradas (1971), and of T. Porzekanski, by Historias para mi abuela (1970). The novel was given variously experimental contributions and solutions by J. Onetti (born in 1931), son of the famous writer, with Contramutis (1969), which was translated into Italian with the same title (Milan 1970), and which is a sort of psychological yellow, with visible dreamlike implications; F. Ainsa (born in 1937), author of four or five novels of excited, almost frenetic narration, perhaps influenced by cinema, such as El testigo (1964) and Con cierto asombro (1968); and M. Levrero (born in 1939), author of the almost obsessive La ciudad (1970). Ulalume González de León (born in 1932), educated in France and now living in Mexico, who published a volume of short stories, A cada rato lunes (1970), and one of poems, Plagio (1972), is, instead, a writer who passes from an ambiguous poetic prose, all allusions and implications, to a poem that is also stretched between ghosts and shadows.

For all these writers of the new generation, many of whom today in exile in Spain (such as Galeano and Peri Rossi) or elsewhere (and we do not know how many and which ones) , we must ask ourselves, in conclusion, what the split reality will offer in which they are forced to live. The question is, for everyone, and all the more for these Uruguayans, entrusted to the uncertain future.

Uruguay Literature Part II