Argentina Literature

Argentina Literature

According to, the territory within which the Argentine Republic is now included was originally inhabited by indigenous races who had no written literature, but whose languages, traditions and songs are known to us as part of folklore, or in the form of news in the first colonial chronicles, following the reconstructions of modern art and science.

During the sec. XVI the Spanish captains, priests, magistrates and artisans, who discovered, explored and colonized the Argentine territory, transplanted the Castilian language, the writing and the foundations of European culture, which developed in Spain from the Renaissance onwards.

The Spanish colonization thus also created in Argentina a Greek-Latin and Christian society, with many medieval residues and theocratic norms: however, when Argentina managed to emancipate itself (1810): like the other American peoples, it renewed its social conscience and politics under the influence of French encyclopedism and British liberalism; he only kept the Spanish language as an expressive sign of his nationality and his literature.

Finally, the Argentine Republic was established in 1853, the country opened up to European immigration, and at the same time the national culture was also open to all cosmopolitan influences, while maintaining its own national characteristic.

Chronologically, in Argentine literature we can therefore distinguish the following periods: 1. of indigenous prehistory with songs and oral narratives in Quechúa, Guarani or Araucano, which persist in popular tradition, or were collected after the 16th century by the colonizers and, in more recent age, by Argentine scholars; 2. of the Spanish colonization which includes three centuries, from 1535, the date of the foundation of Buenos Aires, up to 1810, the date of the fall of the viceroys, a period that presents a more historical than literary interest, because it is mostly written they refer to local events, now in the form of a prose chronicle, now in the form of historical works in verse; 3. of national emancipation, which embraces almost the entire nineteenth century and the present up to the present day, and is the only one in which the production expresses the ideals of the country in formation and describes its landscapes, its types, its customs, in all genres proper to modern European literatures, and with its own ever growing originality: indeed, even for the whole century. XIX, literature almost always remained at the service of political events, and it is necessary to reach the contemporary era after 1880 to recognize a real literature, inspired only by aesthetic ideals, and complete in all its multiplicity of forms.

Since chronology, which correlates political and literary history, is not enough to fully explain Argentine literature, a system of aesthetic dependencies on European culture has been resorted to. Under this system one should speak of classicism, romanticism, naturalism, modernism, symbolism, etc., as if Argentine intellectual production were a simple phenomenon of intercontinental imitation. Argentine classicism would in fact be represented by authors of the colonial era, who studied Latin in university classrooms, and imitated ancient models, often through other European imitators: such as, in the seventeenth century, Luís De Tejeda (1604-1681), author of El peregrino en Babilonia, of Soledades and other poems, and imitator of Góngora; in the sec. XVIII, Manuel Labardén, who wrote the Siripo, a pseudoclassical drama for the theater ; and finally, in the early 19th century, during the emancipation, Juan Cruz Varela, who composed songs imitated by Horace and Virgil, and tragedies such as Dido and Argía, imitated by Quintana and Alfieri. In reality, that there has been a classic filiation since the colonial era, it is undeniable; and it is easier to detect the analogous romantic filiation, which begins with Esteban Echeverría (1804-1851). Echeverría, a poet born in Buenos Aires, was a self-taught who completed his studies in Paris; took advantage of the teachings of Cousin and Hugo, and, returning to his homeland, began a romantic movement in 1837, which at one time invested political ideas (Socialist dogma), literary theories (Forma y fondo en las obras de imaginación), and poetic creation (La Cautiva and other poems), having repercussions in the novel, in the theater, in criticism, etc., and persisted throughout the century. XIX. Finally, at the end of this century Rubén Darío, the great poet of Spanish America, born in Nicaragua and settled in Argentina, published his books Prosas profanas (poems) and Los raros in Buenos Aires.(criticism), starting a new literary period under the suggestion of French symbolism and, in general, of cosmopolitan symbolism. There were not even a few imitators of Zola or naive realists in the novel and drama. However, these cases and examples are not enough to explain Argentine literature. The terms of pseudoclassicism, romanticism, symbolism applied to Argentine literature are only false labels, from which what is most profound and genuine in national thought escapes.

Like all other literatures, Argentine literature cannot be studied other than in terms of national consciousness, that is, as an ever clearer expression of a national culture and sensibility. The Argentines are indeed children of Europe, but with their own nature and environment and destiny; and nothing better than literature, in its particular tendencies, and in its evolution, documents this autonomy of the new historical character that they are. Already before the century. XVI we find in fact the traces of an indigenous tradition. After the 1500s it mixes with the Spanish popular tradition imported by the colonizers, and the Argentine folklore is born, very rich and varied, with an unmistakable local color. And the same tradition is still the one that dominates the century. XIX, and, Cautiva of Echeverría, the Facundo of Sarmiento, the Martín Fierro of Hernández, the Santos Vega of Obligado, the War Gaucha of Lugones, the Montaraz of Leguizamón, the Mis montañas of González, the Zogoibi of Larreta, the Voz del desierto of Talero, the Pais de la Selva di Rojas, the Secundo Sombra by Güiraldes: typically Argentine books, inseparable from the conscience of the country in which they were born, and therefore dear to the people, who, reading them, recognize themselves in them. This assimilating, transforming, creative autonomy of literature is none other than the very life of the nation in its evolution, from the first moment of its historical origin to the highest and most complex forms of the modern state.

Argentina Literature 3

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