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Galeano, Eduardo 1940- (Eduardo Hughes Galeano)

Galeano, Eduardo 1940- (Eduardo Hughes Galeano)

PERSONAL:

Born September 3, 1940, in Montevideo, Uruguay; son of Eduardo Hughes and Ester Galeano; married Silvia Brando, 1959; married Graciela Berro, 1962; married Helena Villagra, 1976; children: (first marriage) Veronica; (second marriage) Florencia, Claudio. Politics: Socialist.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Montevideo, Uruguay.

CAREER:

Marcha (weekly), Montevideo, Uruguay, editor-in-chief, 1961-64; Epoca (daily), Montevideo, director, 1964-66; University Press, Montevideo, editor in chief, 1965-73; Crisis (magazine), Buenos Aires, Argentina, founder, 1973, director, 1973-76; writer. Previously worked as a factory worker, bank teller, bill collector, sign painter, messenger, and typist.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Premio Casa de las Americas, 1975, for La cancion de nosotros, and 1978, for Dias y noches de amor y de guerra; American Book Award, 1989, for "Memory of Fire" trilogy; Cultural Freedom Prize, Lannan Foundation.

WRITINGS:

Los dias siguientes (novel), Alfa, 1962.

China 1964: Crónica de un desafio, Jorge Alvarez, 1964.

Los fantasmas del dia del leon, y otros relatos (stories), Arca, 1967.

Guatemala: Clave de Latinoamerica, Ediciones de la Banda Oriental, 1967, translation by Cedric Belfrage published as Guatemala: Occupied Country, Monthly Review Press (New York, NY), 1969.

Reportajes: Tierras de Latinoamerica, otros puntos cardinales, y algo mas (also see below), Ediciones Tauro, 1967.

(Compiler and author of prologue) Su majestad, el futhol, Arca, 1968.

Siete imagenes de Bolivia, Fondo Editorial Salvador de la Plaza, 1971.

Las venas ahiertas de America Latina, Departamento de Publicaciones, Universidad Nacional de la Republica, 1971, translation by Cedric Belfrage published as The Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent, Monthly Review Press (New York, NY), 1973, 25th anniversary edition with foreword by Isabelle Allende, 1997.

Crónicas latinoamericanas, Editorial Giron, 1972.

Vagamundo (stories), Ediciones de Crisis, 1973.

La cancion de nosotros (novel), Editorial Sudamericana, 1975.

Conversaciones con Raimon, Granica, 1977.

Dias y noches de amor y de guerra, Editorial Laia, 1978, translation by Judith Brister published as Days and Nights of Love and War (memoir), 1983, translation by Bobbye S. Ortiz, Monthly Review Press (New York, NY), 2000.

Voces de nuestro tiempo, Editorial Universitaria Centroamericana, 1981.

Los nacimientos (first book in "Memoria del fuego" trilogy), Siglo XXI de España (Madrid, Spain), 1982, translation by Cedric Belfrage published as Memory of Fire: Genesis, Pantheon (New York, NY), 1985.

La piedra arde, Loguez Ediciones, 1983.

Las caras y las mascaras (second book in "Memoria del fuego" trilogy), Siglo XXI de España (Madrid, Spain), 1984, translation by Cedric Belfrage published as Memory of Fire: Faces and Masks, Pantheon (New York, NY), 1987.

Contrasena, Ediciones del Sol, 1985.

El siglo del viento (third book in "Memoria del fuego" trilogy), Siglo XXI de España (Madrid, Spain), 1986, translation by Cedric Belfrage published as Memory of Fire: Century of the Wind, Pantheon (New York, NY), 1988.

Aventuras de los jovenes dioses, Kapelusz, 1986.

Nosotros decimos no: Cronicas (1963-1988), Siglo XXI de España (Madrid, Spain), 1989.

El libro de los abrazos, Siglo XXI de España (Madrid, Spain), 1989, translation by Cedric Belfrage and Mark Schafer published as The Book of Embraces, W.W. Norton (New York, NY), 1991.

El descubrimiento de América que todavía no fué y nuevos ensayos, Alfadil Ediciones (Caracas, Venezuala), 1991.

Nosotros decimos no, translation by Mark Fried and others published as We Say No: Chronicles, 1963-1991, W.W. Norton (New York, NY), 1992.

Ser como ellos y otros artículos, Siglo Veintiuno Editores (Mexico), 1992.

(With Winfried Wolf) 500 Jahre Conquista: die Dritte Welt im Würgegriff, ISP (Köln, Germany), 1992.

(With Fred Ritchin) An Uncertain Grace: Photographs by Sebastiao Salgado, Aperture (Millerton, NY), 1992.

Las palabras andantes, woodcuts by José Francisco Borges, Siglo Veintiuno de España Editores (Madrid, Spain), 1993, translation by Mark Fried published as Walking Words, W.W. Norton (New York, NY), 1995.

Uselo y tírelo: el mundo del fin del milenio, visto desde una ecologia latinoamericana, Planeta (Buenos Aires, Argentina), 1994.

El futbol a sol y sombra, Siglo Veintiuno de España Editores, 1995, translation by Mark Fried published as Football in Sun and Shadow, Verso (New York, NY), 1998.

Mujeres, La Jornada Ediciones (Mexico), 1996.

Apuntes para el fin de siglo: antologia, Instituto Movilizador de Fondos Cooperativos (Buenos Aires, Argentina), 1997.

Patas arriba: la escuela del mundo al revés, Siglo XXI de España (Madrid, Spain), 1998, translation by Mark Fried published as Upside Down: A Primer for the Looking-Glass World, engravings by José Guadalupe Posada, Metropolitan Books (New York, NY), 2000.

100 relatos breves: antologia, Desde la Gente (Buenos Aires, Argentina), 1998.

Tejidos: antologia, Ediciones Octaedro (Barcelona, Spain), 2001.

(With others) La guerra del bien y del mal: la politica terrorista de Estados Unidos (United States; terrorism), Pastoral Educativa (San Marcos, Guatemala), 2002.

Bocas del tiempo, Ediciones del Chanchito (Montevideo, Uruguay), 2004, translation by Mark Fried published as Voices of Time: A Life in Stories, Metropolitan Books (New York, NY), 2006.

(With others) Il continente desaparecido e ricomparso, Sperling & Kupfer (Milan, Italy), 2005.

SIDELIGHTS:

Eduardo Galeano has had a long and celebrated career as a journalist, historian, political writer, and storyteller. A committed democratic socialist, Galeano has been an impassioned critic of global industrialization and a champion for the cause of the oppressed workers and political activists of Latin America. His work blends historical and personal anecdote, legend, aphorisms, fiction and fantasy, to explore the Latin American soul and to call for an end to the exploitation of Latin America's resources, both human and natural. In her foreword to a recent edition of Galeano's The Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent, Isabelle Allende wrote that Galeano "is one of the most interesting authors ever to come out of Latin America, a region known for its great literary names. His work is a mixture of meticulous detail, political conviction, poetic flair, and good storytelling…. He has more first-hand knowledge of Latin America than anybody else I can think of, and uses it to tell the world of the dreams and disillusions, the hopes and the failures of its people. He is an adventurer with a talent for writing, a compassionate heart, and a soft sense of humor…. His arguments, his rage, and his passion would be overwhelming if they were not expressed with such superb style, with such masterful timing and suspense."

Born and raised in Uruguay, Galeano was largely self-educated and was a political activist from a very young age. At thirteen he began publishing cartoons for the Uruguayan socialist paper, El Sol. He went on to work for the journal Marcha while still in his teens, and became editor in chief of that publication at twenty. When he was still in his early thirties, a right-wing military coup imprisoned Galeano and later forced him to flee from Uruguay to Argentina. Still later, another coup and several death threats forced him to leave Argentina for Spain, where he lived in exile until he was permitted to return to Uruguay in 1984.

In his memoir, Days and Nights of Love and War, Galeano recounts and reflects on the murders, tortures, and disappearances that have become a routine part of Latin American politics. Described by Julie Schumacher in the Nation as "the notebook of a wandering ‘people's reporter,’" Days and Nights of Love and War approaches its subject in an unorthodox manner, in which "the action is presented … through semi-related paragraphs that jump back and forth in time, place, person and mood." Schumacher maintained that Days and Nights of Love and War proves the author is "a magical writer in the best sense of the word," a writer whose nonfiction is able to "match the intensity and appeal of the [South American] continent's best fiction." The reviewer concluded that in Days and Nights of Love and War, Galeano shows that "the reality of Latin America is more fantastic than the lies we've been told, and that nothing is more horrible or poetic than the truth."

Galeano expands on this fragmentary approach to story in his American Book Award-winning trilogy "Memoria del fuego" or "Memory of Fire." In the three books of the trilogy, translated as Genesis, Faces and Masks, and Century of the Wind, the author provides an anecdotal chronicle of the Americas—North, South, and Central—using sources which range from the native myths of creation to the political upheavals of modern times. Galeano dramatizes some scenes in paragraph-length sketches, such as one in which God tells President McKinley that the United States should retain the Philippines after the Spanish-American War; or how, when the Chiriguano Indians first learned of paper, they called it "the skin of God." In others, he reprints historic documents.

Galeano combines elements of the novel, poetry, and history in the "Memory of Fire" trilogy. Each vignette is based on a documentary source or sources (identified by number in the book's bibliography), but Galeano has recast many of the stories in a poetic form. "I do not want to write an objective work—neither wanted to nor could," Galeano wrote in the preface to Genesis. "There is nothing neutral about this historical narration. Unable to distance myself, I take sides: I confess it and I am not sorry. However, each fragment of this huge mosaic is based on a solid documentary foundation." In an interview appearing in the New Yorker, Galeano called his trilogy "highly subjective," and explained: "Back in school, history classes were terrible—boring, lifeless, empty…. It was as if the teachers were intentionally trying to rob us of that connection [to reality], so that we would become resigned to our present—not realize that history is something people make, with their lives, in their own present. So, you see, I tried to find a way of recounting history so that the reader would feel that it was happening right now, just around the corner—this immediacy, this intensity, which is the beauty and the reality of history."

The "Memory of Fire" trilogy was warmly welcomed by American critics, even though U.S. foreign policy comes under strong attack in the work. In the New York Times Book Review, Louis de Bernieres called the trilogy "a generous and extraordinarily eclectic collection of historical snippets that conveys an impressionistic panorama of the Americas from the earliest times to the present. The vignettes … provide poignant testimony to the cruelty, megalomania, courage, stoicism, perversity, grandeur, illogic and tragicomedy of the ever-present past."

During the 1990s many of Galeano's works were translated into English. These include a pastiche of impressions published as The Book of Embraces; a story collection, Walking Words; and a political treatise, Upside Down: A Primer for the Looking-Glass World. Whether through literature or polemic, Galeano seeks to condemn the ruthlessness of capitalism, which by its very nature brings greater wealth to the wealthy at the expense of the poor. As Jack Weston observed in a Monthly Review evaluation of Walking Words, Galeano "wants his ‘walking words’ … to offer the mental world of a conflicted and divided people so that they can find and create their identity in it. The self-created identity gives hope and leads to united struggle for a society that develops the potentials of a now conscious and unified people." Weston added: "Galeano has long been convinced of the revolutionary power of words and pictures to awaken identity and hope in a united struggle."

In a New Statesman & Society review of The Book of Embraces, Amanda Hopkinson suggested that Galeano's writing "embraces a radical view of the world." She added that the author's work celebrates "ordinary people whose doings are recorded in diaries and jottings, myths and anecdotes, newspapers and advertisements in which the famous only make an impact as they are assimilated or resisted by the rest." Library Journal correspondent Marcela Valdes perhaps best summarized Galeano's lasting importance when she wrote, "Like Rumplestiltskin spinning straw into gold, … Galeano owes his reputation as one of Latin America's most influential historians to an act of alchemy: the ability to spin the ossified documents of history into provocative literary gems."

Bocas del tiempo, or Voices of Time: A Life in Stories, is a collection of 300 vignettes, each no longer than one page, in which Galeano contemplates a wide range of topics. Historic figures make appearances, as does the author himself, for example as a judge of a sixth-grade writing contest. Library Journal reviewer Nedra Crowe-Evers commented that the stories read "more like prose poetry: each word carefully chosen, each phrase evocative of an entire action or mood." "Readers unfamiliar with Galeano's kaleidoscopic presentation may be baffled," wrote a Kirkus Reviews contributor. "Fans of his style will find this a gem."

"Perhaps I write because I know that the people and the things I care about are going to die and I want to preserve them alive," Galeano told CA. "I believe in my craft; I believe in my instrument. I can never understand how writers could write while cheerfully declaring that writing has no meaning. Nor can I ever understand those who turn words into a target for fury or an object of fetishism. Words are a weapon: the responsibility for the crime never lies with the knife. Slowly gaining strength and form, there is in Latin America a literature that does not set out to bury our own dead but to perpetuate them; that refuses to clear up the ashes and tries, on the contrary, to light the fire. Perhaps my own words may help a little to preserve for people to come, as the poet put it, ‘the true name of each thing.’"

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

BOOKS

Dias y noches de amor y de guerra, Editorial Laia, 1978, translation by Judith Brister published as Days and Nights of Love and War, 1983, translation by Bobbye S. Ortiz, Monthly Review Press (New York, NY), 2000.

PERIODICALS

Booklist, June 1, 1995, Raul Nino, review of Walking Words, p. 1718.

Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 2006, review of Voices of Time: A Life in Stories, p. 390.

Library Journal, September 1, 2000, Marcela Valdes, review of Upside Down: A Primer for the Looking-Glass World, p. 235, and Boyd Childress, review of Upside Down, p. 236; May 15, 2006, Nedra Crowe-Evers, review of Voices of Time, p. 100.

Monthly Review, June, 1996, Jack Weston, review of Walking Words, p. 46; April, 1997, Isabel Allende, commentary on The Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent, p. 1.

Nation, June 25, 1983, Julie Schumacher, review of Days and Nights of Love and War; February 14, 1987, Jean Franco, review of Memory of Fire: Genesis and Memory of Fire: Faces and Masks, p. 183; June 26, 1995, John Leonard, review of Walking Words, p. 935.

New Statesman & Society, January 22, 1993, Amanda Hopkinson, review of The Book of Embraces, p. 41; October 28, 1994, Victoria Brittain, review of We Say No: Chronicles, 1963-1991, p. 36.

New Yorker, July 28, 1986, interview with Galeano, p. 18.

New York Times Book Review, October 27, 1985, Ronald Christ, review of Memory of Fire: Genesis, p. 22; July 16, 1995, Louis de Bernieres, review of "Memory of Fire" trilogy, p. 11.

Publishers Weekly, May 1, 1995, review of Walking Words, p. 43; September 18, 2000, review of Upside Down, p. 98.

ONLINE

Books and Writers,http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/galeano.htm (January 23, 2007), "Eduardo Galeano (1940—)," biography of the author.

Democracy Now!,http://www.democracynow.org/ (May 19, 2006), Amy Goodman, interview.

Identity Theory,http://www.identitytheory.com/ (July 18, 2006), Robert Birnbaum, interview.

In These Times,http://www.inthesetimes.com/ (July 14, 2006), Scott Witmer, interview.

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