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Güiraldes, Ricardo (1886–1927)

Güiraldes, Ricardo (1886–1927)

Ricardo Güiraldes (b. 13 February 1886; d. 8 October 1927), Argentine writer. Born in Buenos Aires into a patrician family of estancia owners, he spent the first three years of his life in Paris, speaking French before he learned his native language, an experience that permitted him to enrich his Spanish writings with bold transplants. His devotion to everything French and to his own land engendered a deep symbiosis of the European and Argentine heritages. A sophisticated European as well as a gaucho, skillful at tasks practiced by the cowboys of the Pampa, he was also a refined Argentine gentleman who helped to popularize the tango in Paris's café society. The First World War caused him to retreat into spiritualistic, existentialist, and oriental philosophies. In his yearly pilgrimages to Paris, he established deep friendships with the French writer Valéry Larbaud and the most important "decadent" poets of the time, who greatly influenced his literature. A man of authentic nationalistic feelings for Argentina, like many of his countrymen at the time, Güiraldes wanted to idealize his native roots while enriching them with the best European contributions. He had an ecumenical outlook and eagerness, although deeply rooted in his country and in his time. Güiraldes served as a board member of the influential literary magazines Martín Fierro and Proa, exercising a guiding role among younger writers. He published three volumes of poetry, two of short stories, and four novels; not a large body of work, but one of high quality and very avant-garde. In 1926, a few months before his death in Paris, he won the National Prize for Literature for his novel Don Segundo Sombra, a classic of Argentine literature. Güiraldes found his voice, at once "gaucha," full of peasant imagery, but also very French. The book was innovative in the very personal style of his narrative; in being a bildungsroman, in which Güiraldes proposed a model for the education of his people with its hyperbolized figure of the gaucho; and in its depiction of a free, stoic, lonely, and silent life.

See alsoGaucho; Literature: Spanish America.


P. R. Beardsell, "French Influences in Güiraldes's Early Experiments," in Bulletin of Hispanic Studies 16 (1969): 331-344.

William W. Megenney, ed., Four Essays on Ricardo Güiraldes (1886–1927) (1977).

Giovanni Previtali, Ricardo Güiraldes and "Don Segundo Sombra": Life and Works (1963).

Nina M. Scott, "Language, Humor, and Myth in the Frontier Novels of the Americas: Wister, Güiraldes, and Amado," in Program in Latin American Studies (Amherst, MA), Occasional Papers, no. 16 (1983): 1-34.

Additional Bibliography

Bordelois, Ivonne. Un triángulo crucial: Borges, Güiraldes y Lugones. Buenos Aries: Eudeba, 1999.

Peris Llorca, Jesús. La construcción de un imaginario nacional: Don Segundo Sombra y la tradición gauchesca. Valencia: Tirant lo Blanch Libros: Universidad de València, 1997.

                                    Angela B. Dellepiane

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