Henríquez Ureña, Pedro (1884–1946)

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Henríquez Ureña, Pedro (1884–1946)

Pedro Henríquez Ureña (b. 29 June 1884; d. 11 May 1946), Dominican and Spanish American intellectual, educator, philologist, and literary critic. Born in Santo Domingo of a prominent family, he spent most of his lifetime outside his native country. His early schooling was in the Dominican Republic and in the United States (1902–1904), and he began his literary activities during a first residence in Cuba (1904–1905). He lived in Mexico from 1906 through 1914, where he completed a law degree, taught at the Preparatory School of the University of Mexico, and together with Alfonso Reyes, Antonio Caso, and other young intellectuals took part in the founding of the Ateneo de la Juventud. He traveled to the United States again in 1914, and between 1916 and 1921 he both taught and did postgraduate work in Spanish literature at the University of Minnesota (his doctoral thesis, defended in 1918, was on versification in Hispanic poetry). In a second and shorter Mexican residence (1921–1924) he undertook a number of teaching and administrative responsibilities. In mid-1924 he left Mexico for Argentina, and for more than twenty years held secondary and university teaching positions in both Buenos Aires and nearby La Plata. He also carried on wide-ranging intellectual activities: a steady stream of books and articles on linguistics and literature, lectures, and consultations with journals and publishing houses. In 1931–1933 he served for a short time as General Superintendent of Education in the Dominican Republic, and in 1940–1941 he was invited to deliver the Charles Eliot Norton lectures at Harvard University.

Henríquez Ureña's influence was evident in several generations of well-trained students, but clearly his most significant contribution as a thinker and scholar has come in the expansiveness and persuasive clarity of his own writings. His publications are voluminous and contribute brilliantly to the study of language, literature, and culture in the Spanish-speaking world. As a linguist, Henríquez Ureña's best contributions are probably his Gramática castellana (1938–1939), his much reprinted grammar done with Amado Alonso, and his dialectal studies on American Spanish: El español en México, los Estados Unidos y la América Central (1938) and El español en Santo Domingo (1940). His most influential literary studies are the published doctoral thesis on versification, La versificación irregular en la poesía castellana (1920), and the Norton lectures from Harvard, Literary Currents in Hispanic America (1945; translated by Joaquín Díez Canedo and published in 1949 as Las corrientes literarias en la América Hispánica). As a cultural observer, his best-known work is Seis ensayos en busca de nuestra expresión (1928), a series of six persuasive essays on the possibilities of expressing an authentic American culture in Spanish.

See alsoAteneo de la Juventud (Athenaeum of Youth); Ureña de Henríquez, Salomé.


Juan Jacobo De Lara, Pedro Henríquez Ureña: Su vida y su obra (1975).

Enrique Anderson Imbert, "Pedro Henríquez Ureña," in Latin American Writers, edited by Carlos A. Solé and Maria Isabel Abreu, vol. 2 (1989).

Juan Jacobo De Lara, ed., Obras completas, 10 vols. (1976–1980).

Emma Susana Speratti Piñero, Obra crítica (1960)

José Alcántara Almánzar, Ensayos (1976)

Angel Rama and Rafael Gutiérrez Girardot, La utopía de América (1978).

Emma Susana Speratti Piñero, "Crono-bibliografía de Pedro Henríquez Ureña," in Obra crítica, pp. 751-793.

Alfredo A. Roggiano, ed., Pedro Henríquez Ureña en los Estados Unidos (1961), Pedro Henríquez Ureña en México (1989).

Additional Bibliography

González Tapia, Carlisle. El pensamiento lingüístico de Pedro Henríquez Ureña. Santo Domingo: Editora Universitaria, 1998.

Inoa, Orlando. Pedro Henríquez Ureña en Santo Domingo. Santo Domingo: Comisión Permanente de la Feria del Libro, 2002.

Zuleta Alvarez, Enrique. Literatura y sociedad: Estudios sobre Pedro Henríquez Ureña. Buenos Aires: Ediciones Atril, 1999.

                                 Merlin H. Forster

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