Alegría, Fernando 1918–2005
Alegría, Fernando 1918–2005
OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Born September 26, 1918, in Santiago, Chile; died of kidney failure, October 29, 2005, in Walnut Creek, CA. Educator and author. Alegría was an award-winning Chilean author of novels, poetry, and criticism, who spent much of his life living and teaching in the United States. Fostering a love of literature from his boyhood, his first writings were published in La Nación in Santiago while he was attending the Academia de Humanidades. After graduating from the University of Chile, he moved to the United States for his graduate education. Alegría completed his master's degree at Bowling Green State University in 1941, followed by a Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley in 1947. By this time he was already a published author and had won the Latin American Prize of Literature in 1943 for the children's book Lautaro: Joven libertador de Arauco (1943; 5th edition, 1965). After he completed his doctorate, Alegría remained at Berkeley as an instructor and later professor of Spanish and Portuguese until 1967, when he joined the faculty at Stanford University. During this time, he solidified his reputation as a writer with Caballo de copas (1957; 2nd edition, 1961), a novel that expresses his love of horses and which was translated in 1964 as My Horse Gonzales. Although he taught in America, Alegría spent a great deal of his time in Chile, where he was a friend of President Salvador Allende. Allende, in fact, appointed Alegría to be the cultural attaché at the Chilean Embassy in Washington, DC, in 1970. In Chile, the author was also known for his "Viva Chile M!," a poem about a devastating earthquake that was set to music and became very popular. Alegría served as cultural attaché until 1973, when Allende was assassinated in a military coup. The author later wrote about the coup in El paso de los gansos (1980); he also fictionalized Allende's life in Allende: mi vecino, el presidente, translated as Allende: A Novel (1993). Having been a friend to the former president, Alegría was forced into exile and would not return to his homeland until political restrictions were lifted in 1987, the same year he retired from teaching as a professor emeritus. As an educator, Alegría was best known for being a pioneer in the study of Latin-American literature. He helped students and teachers become more familiar with the writings of South and Central American writers, editing such collections as Novelistas contemporaneos hispanoamericanos (1964), Chilean Writers in Exile: Eight Short Novels (1982), and Paradise Lost or Gained? The Literature of Hispanic Exile (1992). Among his other writings are Ten Pastoral Psalms (1968), Amerika (manifiestos de Vietnam) (1970), The Chilean Spring (1980), and The Funhouse (1986).
OBITUARIES AND OTHER SOURCES:
Los Angeles Times, November 23, 2005, p. B8.
San Francisco Chronicle, November 20, 2005, p. B5.