Argüello Mora, Manuel (1834–1902)

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Argüello Mora, Manuel (1834–1902)

Manuel Argüello Mora is considered to be Costa Rica's first novelist. An orphan, Argüello was raised by his uncle Juan Rafael Mora Porras (1814–1960), who became president of Costa Rica in 1849 and led the nation against William Walker's filibusters in 1856. Forced to leave the country when Mora was overthrown in a coup in 1859, Argüello fictionalized Mora's disastrous attempt to retake power the following year in his most famous short story, "La trinchera" ("The Trench"), and in the short novels Elisa Delmar and Margarita (all published in 1899).

Argüello's best writing reflects his search for a Costa Rican national identity in the traumatic events of the nineteenth century. By his own count, he produced more than 600 works of historical fiction, journalism, and travel literature. Although modern historians and literary scholars have criticized Argüello's romantic narratives, his writings provide first-hand accounts of important events in the nation's history. By introducing new forms and themes explored by later authors, Argüello Mora assured his place in Costa Rican letters.

See alsoLiterature: Spanish America; Mora Porrás, Juan Rafael; Walker, William.


Argüello Mora, Manuel. Obras literarias e históricas. San José, Costa Rica: Editorial Costa Rica, 1963.

                                         Russell Lohse

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Argüello Mora, Manuel (1834–1902)

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Argüello Mora, Manuel (1834–1902)