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Gerchunoff, Alberto (1884–1950)

Gerchunoff, Alberto (1884–1950)

Alberto Gerchunoff (b. 1 January 1884; d. 2 March 1950), writer and journalist, born in Proskuroff (Khmelnitski) Russia; he emigrated with his family to Argentina in 1889, settling in Moisés Ville, Santa Fe Province. After his father's murder, the family moved to Rajil in Entre Ríos Province. In his classic Los gauchos judíos (1910; The Jewish Gauchos of the Pampas, 1955), Gerchunoff envisioned the promised land based on the agricultural colonies founded by Baron Hirsch as a haven for Jews fleeing from pogroms in czarist Russia. He moved to Buenos Aires in 1895, where he met Enrique Dickmann and Alfredo L. Palacios—the major figures of the Socialist Party—and writer Leopoldo Lugones and Robert J. Payró. He began writing for the journal Caras y Caretas, where he developed a following for his sharp wit and satirical portrayals. Gerchunoff would later serve as a model for Abrahan Orloff in Manuel Gálvez's El mal metafísico (1916). In 1909 Gerchunoff joined the staff of La Nacíon, which for a young Jewish immigrant signaled acceptance into the literary establishment.

His most acclaimed work, Los gauchos judíos, was published during the centennial of Argentine independence. Gerchunoff considered Argentina a "new Zion" where Jews could become fully integrated and therefore forgo the notion of a return to Palestine. The impact of the Holocaust, however, about which he wrote in El problema judío (1945), persuaded him to advocate the establishment of the state of Israel. His faith in Argentina led him to dismiss as deviations anti-Semitic acts such as those that occurred during the semana trágica ("tragic week") in Buenos Aires in January 1919.

Gerchunoff achieved his own integration into Argentine culture through his assimilation of Spanish literary classics, such as Don Quixote. A superb prose fiction writer of twenty-six books, he was also an acclaimed journalist and lecturer: Retorno a Don Quijote (1951), Enrique Heine: El poeta de nuestra intimidad (1927), Las imágenes del país (1931), and El pino y la palmera (1952) demonstrate the broad range of his literary production.

See alsoJews; Journalism; Literature: Spanish America.


Manuel Kantor, Alberto Gerchunoff (1969).

Myriam E. Grover De Nasatsky, Bibliografía de Alberto Gerchunoff (1976).

Leonardo Senkman, La identidad judía en la literatura argentina (1983).

Beatriz Marquis Stambler, Vida y obra de Alberto Gerchunoff (1985).

Additional Bibliography

Berger, Silvia. Cuatro textos autobiográficos latinoamericanos: Yo, historia e identidad nacional en A. Gerchunoff, M. Agosín, A. Bioy Casares y O. Soriano. New York: P. Lang, 2004.

Degiovanni, Fernando. "Inmigración, nacionalismo cultural, campo intelectual: el proyecto creador de Alberto Gerchunoff." Revista Iberoamericana 66 (April-June 2000): 367-379.

Koremblit, Bernardo Ezequiel. Gerchunoff, o, El vellocino de la literature. Buenos Aires: Academia Nacional de Periodismo, 2003.

                                        SaÚl Sosnowski

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