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Larreta, Enrique Rodríguez (1873–1961)

Larreta, Enrique Rodríguez (1873–1961)

Enrique Rodríguez Larreta (b. 4 March 1873; d. 7 July 1961), Argentine dramatist. Enrique Rodríguez Larreta was born in Buenos Aires of Uruguayan parents and belonged to the cattle-baron oligarchy; he earned a doctorate in law from the University of Buenos Aires. Larreta exemplifies the phenomenon of the gentleman literatus made possible by the enormous economic prosperity and international ties that characterized Argentine life in the federal capital of Buenos Aires and the province of Buenos Aires between 1880 and 1930. True to his class, Larreta specialized in a literature (basically narrative and lyrical dramas) that focused on questions of national identity from the perspective of the ruling creoles. This meant an emphasis on a chthonic definition of Hispanic roots, with or without the dimension of their forceful domination of indigenous elements. Larreta's most famous work, La gloria de don Ramiro; una vida en tiempos de Felipe II (1908), in the context of a decadent prose with important French parallels, explores contradictions of the Hispanic substratum of Latin American society and is most notable for its rereading of the Spanish racialistic obsession with the "purity of the blood." Larreta correlates Don Ramiro's nonpurity with his failure in the New World, a plot configuration that has strident ideological implications for early-twentieth-century political beliefs in an Argentina that opposed immigration (especially its Jewish components) and non-Hispanic liberalism, while at the same time calling for a reaffirmation of an authentic Hispanic heritage. Larreta, thanks in great part to the strains of literary decadence to which he was exposed, may not have been as facile in these matters as Leopoldo Lugones (1874–1938) or the harsh-minded nationalists, but there is no question that his writing strikes a counterpoint to the dominant cultural liberalism of the modernists. One cannot help but be struck by the juxtaposition in Larreta of significant manifestations of an aesthetist posture and the mythmaking force of an austere Spanish traditionalism, a feature of his writing also evident in Zogoibi (1926), set in the legendary Argentine pampas.

See alsoJesus; Race and Ethnicity.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Amado Alonso, Ensayo sobre la novela histórica: El modernismo en La gloria de don Ramiro (1942).

Juan Carlos Ghiano, Análisis de La gloria de don Ramiro (1968).

Gabriella Ibieta, Tradition and Renewal in "La gloria de don Ramiro" (1986).

Additional Bibliography

Fernández-Levin, Rosa. El autor y el personaje femenino en dos novelas del siglo XX. Madrid: Editorial Pliegos, 1997.

Torres-Pou, Joan. "La 'novela de los orígenes' como subtexto en La gloria de don Ramiro y Zogoibi: El dolor de la tierra de Enrique Larreta." Confluencia. 16:2(Spring 2001): 92-98.

                                             David William Foster

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