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Julio Cortazar

Even though he spent most of his writing time in France, Julio Cortázar (1914-1984) is the quintessential Argentine writer. His short stories and novels, mostly written in the 1950’s through 1970’s, are dark, complicated and very deep. He was a great innovator who was not afraid to experiment with form or content: one famous short story, Axolotl, narrates one man’s conversion from a human into an axolotl (a small animal similar to a salamander). In another story, “After Lunch,” a young boy must take something for a walk through the city: we never learn if the “something” is a dog, younger sibling or older relative.

Cortázar was a “writer’s writer” and greatly influenced many of today’s most important Latin American literary figures. Even though he has been dead for over twenty-five years, Cortázar is revered in Argentina: you’ll see his books for sale everywhere and his gaunt face looking at you from posters, refrigerator magnets, t-shirts and anything else it can be printed on.

If you want to read some of his stories, you can often find translations (or the original Spanish versions, if you prefer) posted online. Check out either of the above titles, or look for some of his other masterpieces; some of the more remarkable ones are “The night face-up,” “the droolings of the Devil,” “A yellow flower,” and “Continuity of the Parks.”

Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to Argentina: Che Guevara: Rosario’s Native Son, Estancia Jesús Maria, The Jesuits, History, The History of Buenos Aires, Gato And Mancha, The History of Argentina, The Dirty War, The Patagonia Rebellion and Evita.

04 Mar 2009

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