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Mansilla, Lucio Victorio (1831–1913)

Mansilla, Lucio Victorio (1831–1913)

The son of General Lucio N. Mansilla and Juan Manuel de Rosas's sister, Agustina, Lucio Victorio Mansilla (December 23, 1831–October 3, 1913) was one of the most important Argentine writers of the nineteenth century. He began writing after being discharged from the army for insubordination. As a member of the military, Mansilla served in the Paraguayan War, or War of the Triple Alliance (1866–1870), and he also played a role in extending Argentina's borders into indigenous territory during the presidency of Domingo F. Sarmiento (1868–1874). Both experiences mark the writing of his principal work, Una excursion a los indios ranqueles, published in serial form in the Buenos Aires daily, La Tribuna (A Visit to the Ranquel Indians, 1870). Una excursión approaches the world of the Ranquel tribes with an eye devoid of prejudice. The book discusses the Sarmiento dichotomy of civilization versus barbarism, the political and cultural opposition between the country under Rosas's regime and Sarmiento's political project, coined in his Facundo, and in its form and structure, it displays an originality and a modernity rarely surpassed in the century. After having been dismissed from the army, Mansilla took on different political positions and supported diverse political regimes. Nevertheless, his first and principal continuous occupation was writing.

In the 1880s Mansilla published his famous Causeries de los jueves in the periodical Sud-América. The first issues of Causeries were published in five volumes (1889–1890), but some causeries remained unpublished the twentieth century. During the 1890s and until his death in 1913, he settled in Paris, and traveled from there to Buenos Aires and around the rest of Europe.

Other important works by Mansilla include Estudios morales o el diario de mi vida (1888; Moral Studies of My Life's Journal), Retratos y recuerdos (1894; Portraits and Memories), Rozas: Ensayo histórico-psicológico (1898; Rozas: Historical-Psychological Essay), Mis memorias. Infancia-adolescencia (1994; My Memories. Infancy and Adolescence, 1904), En vísperas (1903; On the Eves), and Un país sin ciudadanos (1907; A Country without Citizens).

Mansilla's eccentric image is the result of his extravagant attitude as a public man and an intense, provocative writing. At times his writings blend various genres: autobiography, memory, reporting, biography, and plays.

See alsoSarmiento, Domingo Faustino; War of the Triple Alliance.


Molloy, Sylvia. "Imagen de Mansilla." In Ferrari, Gustavo y Ezequiel Gallo, la Argentina del Ochenta al Centenario. Buenos Aires: Sudamericana, 1980.

Viñas, David. "Mansilla, Arquetipo Del Gentleman-Militar (1870)." Indios, Ejército y Frontera. Buenos Aires: Santiago Arcos, 2003.

                                       Cristina Iglesia

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