Cambaceres, Eugenio (1843–1889)

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Cambaceres, Eugenio (1843–1889)

Eugenio Cambaceres (b. 24 February 1843; d. 14 June 1889), Argentine novelist. Cambaceres was born in Buenos Aires into a wealthy landholding Argentine family of French heritage. Like other young Argentines of fortune, he frequently traveled to Europe, making his headquarters in Paris. There and in his native city he was known as a man-about-town, very fond of the ladies; he married an opera diva shortly before his death. During the 1870s, Cambaceres engaged unsuccessfully in politics, and only during middle age, in the 1880s, did he start writing novels. In six short years, he produced four volumes—Sin rumbo (1885) is his masterpiece. This promising literary career was cut short when he died of tuberculosis.

All of his novels—Potpourri (1882), Música sentimental (1884), Sin rumbo, and En la sangre (1887)—are cast in the naturalist mold, influenced by the French writer Émile Zola. Cambaceres bitterly attacks society, but unlike Zola fails to give moral guidance. In most of his work, we find a typical naturalistic stress on the sordid; the romantic love of earlier nineteenth-century Spanish American novels has given way to an obsession with sex. In its best moments, however, Sin rumbo transcends its naturalist theme and trappings and becomes a powerfully dramatic novel, written with intensity and great narrative art. It has become a classic, one of the most dynamic and significant works of nineteenth-century Spanish American literature.

See alsoLiterature: Spanish America .


Myron I. Lichtblau, "Naturalism in the Argentine Novel," in his The Argentine Novel in the Nineteenth Century (1959), pp. 163-184.

R. Anthony Castagnaro, The Early Spanish American Novel (1971), pp. 119-129.

María Luisa Bastos, introduction to Sin rumbo (1971), pp. 7-29.

Additional Bibliography

Laera, Alejandra. El tiempo vacío de la ficción: Las novelas argentinas de Eduardo Gutiérrez y Eugenio Cambaceres. Buenos Aires: Fondo de Cultura Económica de Argentina, 2004.

Tcachuk, Alexandra, "Eugenio Cambaceres: Vida y obra." Ph.D. diss., Northwestern University, 1976.

                                      George Schade