Gambaro, Griselda (1928–)

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Gambaro, Griselda (1928–)

Griselda Gambaro (b. 28 July 1928); Argentine playwright, short-story writer, and novelist. In El campo (1967; The Camp, 1971), El desatino (1965; The Blunder), Los siameses (1967; The Siamese Twins, 1967), and other works, Gambaro uses symbolic constructions to depict the real nature of human beings and of their relationships, to open "an imaginary space that, in turn, discovers, invents or anticipates new dimensions of reality." For her, valid literature must have an anticipatory quality and should question what constitutes reality and reveal what reality could be. Gambaro, in all her works, is preoccupied with the absurdity of the human condition, the schizophrenic nature of man, and the exercise of power by men and women alike. Her theater and, to some degree, her novels are absurdist constructions with elements of the theater of cruelty and black humor. Gambaro herself has related it to the grotesco criollo, a parodic genre rooted in the distortion of the traditional bourgeois drama: that of the love triangle. Her characters are isolated, defeated, and devastated in a brutal, hostile world. Her mostly nonverbal language and violent physical images underline a dramatic vision of life and bestow a nightmarish and Kafkaesque quality to her plays.

Although Gambaro's writings deal with universal problems, not limited to a specific place or time, they could be related to the Argentine reality of the recent past. She won the Drama Critics' Prize for best play of 1990 with Penas sin importancia (Unimportant Sorrows), and in 1999 was awarded the Argentine Academy of Letters Prize for her collection of stories Lo major que se viene.

See alsoLiterature: Spanish America; Theater.


Tamara Holzapfel, "Griselda Gambaro's Theatre of the Absurd," in Latin American Theatre Review 4, no. 1 (1970): 5-11.

Sandra M. Cypess, "Physical Imagery in the Plays of Griselda Gambaro," in Modern Drama 18, no. 4 (1975): 357-364, and "The Plays of Griselda Gambaro," in Dramatists in Revolt: The New Latin American Theater, edited by Leon F. Lyday and George W. Woodyard (1976), pp. 95-109.

David W. Foster, "The Texture of Dramatic Action in the Plays of Griselda Gambaro," in Hispanic Journal 1, no. 2 (1979): 57-66.

Marguerite Feitlowitz, "Crisis, Terror, Disappearance: The Theater of Griselda Gambaro," in Theater 21, no. 3 (1990): 34-38.

Additional Bibliography

Contreras, Marta. Griselda Gambaro: Teatro de la descomposición. Concepción, Chile: Ediciones Universidad de Concepción, 1994.

Tarantuviez, Susana. La narrativa de Griselda Gambaro: Una poética del desamparo. Mendoza, Argentina: Universidad Nacional de Cuyo, Facultad de Filosofía y Letras, 2001.

Zandstra, Dianne Marie. Embodying Resistance: Griselda Gambaro and the Grotesque. Lewisburg, PA: Bucknell University Press, 2007.

                                Angela B. Dellepiane