Posted by: Diana Ferraro | 31 March 2010

Leopoldo Marechal

Argentine literature in the 20th century had two geniuses who competed for glory and fame. One was Borges, rewarded in Argentina and the world with a late but fair justice to his extraordinary work, even if he could never accede to the Nobel Prize, which was denied to him for his conservative point of view. The other one, who has been sparingly translated and whose name is hardly recognized in the United States beyond the boundaries of some Hispanic departments in college, is the marvelous Leopoldo Marechal, an open and mystic Catholic, a Nationalist and a Peronist at a moment in which Peronism was committing the sin of raising the poor to the middle class level they deserved. His work was despised for a long time in Argentina and unknown in the world, in that very typical way Latin America often crucifixes the best artists on the name of politics. Borges and Marechal were never friends and didn’t like each other, being on opposite political sides, but they were both victims of politics, though in different times and different ways.

Marechal’s masterpiece is Adan Buenosayres, a long, poetical, surreal description of a poet in Buenos Aires, meddling with people and ghosts, with culture and history. Often compared to Joyce’s Ulysses, this novel represents Argentina’s soul.

An extraordinary poet, Marechal is the author of two other novels rooted in universal myths reinterpreted through Argentine culture: El banquete de Severo Arcángelo, Severo Arcángelo’s Banquet, and Megafón o la guerra, Megafón or the War. He was acknowledged in Argentina as the great author he is during the 70’s but didn’t live to enjoy his fame. Born in 1900, he died in 1970.

A major name in the world’s literature, still to be discovered by non-Argentines.


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