Cardoza y Aragón, Luis (1904–1992)

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Cardoza y Aragón, Luis (1904–1992)

Luis Cardoza y Aragón (b. 21 June 1904; d. 4 September 1992), Guatemalan poet, essayist, and art critic. Widely recognized for his book Guatemala: Las líneas de su mano (1955), Cardoza y Aragón was one of modern Guatemala's most important literary figures. Following the surrealist tradition of the 1920s, he used experiences in Europe to nourish his aesthetic and social preoccupations through poetic works such as Luna Park (1923) and Maelstrom (1926). With the French anthropologist Georges Raynaud he translated a pre-Columbian Maya-Quiché drama, Rabinal Achí (1928).

In 1931 Cardoza chose exile in Mexico over a return to Guatemala, which was entering one of the most brutal and repressive periods of its modern history under the dictatorship of Jorge Ubico y Castañeda (1931–1944). He continued to publish his poetry—Soledad (1936) and El sonámbulo (1937)—and began to write critical essays on contemporary Mexican art, including the controversial volume La nube y el reloj (1940).

Cardoza returned to Guatemala in October 1944, on the eve of the revolution. He was cofounder of Revista de Guatemala (1945) and continued his artistic and political commitment to the revolution until its defeat in 1954.

Cardoza returned to Mexico, where he completed and published Guatemala: Las líneas de su mano (1955), in which he underscores his personal experiences through a presentation of Guatemala's cultural and political heritage. His poetic account of Guatemala, and the hopes of the October Revolution, establish this work as essential reading for understanding Guatemala and its people as well as Cardoza y Aragón's life. He died in Mexico City.

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A brief overview and a selected bibliography are in Francisco Albizúrez Palma and Catalina Barrios y Barrios, Historia de la literatura guatemalteca, vol. 2 (1986), pp. 205-213. A collection of critical essays, including articles by Arturo Arias, Augusto Monterroso, and José Emilio Pacheco, is in Homenaje a Luis Cardoza y Aragón (1987). Most of Cardoza's poetry, and some prose, with an excellent prologue by José Emilio Pacheco, is in Poesías completas y algunas prosas (1977). For further information on Cardoza's life, see his autobiography, El río: Novelas de caballería (1986).

Additional Bibliography

Díaz Castillo, Roberto. Luis Cardoza y Aragón: Ciudadano de la vía láctea. Guatemala, C.A.: Librerías Artemis Edinte, 2001.

Pinto Díaz, David and Rafael Gutiérrez. Luis Cardoza y Aragón: Centenario, 1901–2001. Guatemala, C.A.: Fondo de Cultura Económica de Guatemala, 2001.

                          Shelly Jarrett Bromberg

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Cardoza y Aragón, Luis (1904–1992)

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