Venezuela Literature Part I

By | December 16, 2021

Until the 1950s it had dominated a narrative tradition on social issues. G. Meneses (1911-1979), with his stories but above all with the novel El false cuaderno de Narciso Espejo (1953), inaugurates a writing that opens up to existential problems and revolves around the individual seen as being isolated and vulnerable. Among the later writers only a few followed the lines traced by Meneses, and among those of greater prominence the criticism has identified various tendencies. The first is represented by the works of S. Garmendia (b. 1928) who, with very crude language, tackles the themes of alienation, marginalization and man in the street. His narrative production, which began in 1959 with the novel Los pequeños seres, reveals the influence of Balzac’s reading. In the last stories, a genre favored by Garmendia, in which the urban environment is replaced by the rural one, the realism present in the first works fades, while the language is enriched with lyrical tones. In the short stories Escuchando al idiota, by O. Trejo (b. 1928), an innovative vein of intimism is evident, also present in his autobiographical novel También los hombres son ciudades (1962), pervaded by a nostalgic form of utopia. The social dimension returns to País portatil (1969) by A. González León (b. 1931), one of the best representations of the turbulent political events that shake the Venezuela of the Sixties. A separate case is constituted by the production of A. Rossi, whose work begins to be known in Venezuela only today. For Venezuela 2019, please check

The author has in fact spent most of his life abroad and has published almost all of his works abroad. In his Manual del distrraido (1978) philosophical reflection and invention coexist in a ruthless critique of the surrounding world. Irony, elegance and precision characterize the prose of the stories by El cielo de Sotero (1987) and Fábula de las regiones (1988).

The experimentation of new narrative techniques can be identified in the collections Rajatabla (1970) and Abrapalabra (1980), by L. Britto García (b.1940), in which we pass from the world of science fiction to domestic tragedies, from parody to utopia and denunciation of contemporary culture. In this process of innovation, only J. Balza (b. 1939) adopts the line inaugurated by Meneses. His ” narrative exercises ”, as the author himself likes to define his novels and short stories, reveal the constant search for an elegant language and a perfect rhythm. Of his six novels, Percusión (1982) takes up the existential themes derived, in fact, from Meneses.

Among the younger authors, in a literary landscape in which the story prevails over the novel in terms of quantity and quality, we can mention S. Ibáñez (b.1948), author of three short story books: Descripción de un lugar (1973), A través de una mirada (1978) and La noche es una estación (1990). The brevity and variety of the texts characterize the first collection; writing is the dominant theme of the second; sensuality and literary tradition permeate the third, mainly centered on the university world. The short story is also frequented by U. Mata, author of four short story books, Imágenes y conductos (1970), Pieles de leopardo (1978), Luces (1983) and Bull-Bull (1991). In all of them there is more than evident a not well controlled dependence on earlier Venezuelan literature (Britto García, Balza) and Latin American in general. E. Quintero passes from story to novel, through a reworking of the first collection, La muerte viaja a caballo (1974), of which, in a lyrical and dense prose, he expands twelve minimal texts in La linea de la vida (1988), for finally arrive at the novel The dance of the jaguar and the short novel La bailarina de Kachgar (1991). In the two novels there are keywords, metaphors as well as scenarios and recurring characters throughout his production. J. Calzadilla Arreaza (b. 1959), author of Parálisis andante (1988) and Album del insomnio, texts of difficult collocation, halfway between the fragment and the articulated narration, crossed by a single character who, from time to time, takes on a different name in which a sense of d perennial restlessness. For the historical novel, a genre with a consolidated tradition in Venezuela, En la casa del pez que escupe el agua (1975) and Los amos del Valle (1979), by F. Herrera Luque (1927-1991) are significant.

Overall, the narrative goes through a critical phase that also partly involves lyric and non-fiction production. In the latter field, the most successful work, Entorno al lenguaje (1985), is by the poet and essayist R. Cadenas (b. 1930). Other essayists include MI Barrios, A. Rojas Guardia, D. Miliani (author of Tríptico venezolano, 1985), R. di Prisco, director together with others of the literary critical review Escritura.

Venezuela Literature