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Martínez Estrada, Ezequiel (1895–1964)

Martínez Estrada, Ezequiel (1895–1964)

Ezequiel Martínez Estrada (b. 14 September 1895; d. 5 November 1964), Argentine writer. Born of Spanish parents in San José de la Esquina, province of Santa Fe, Martínez Estrada was one of the most important Argentine writers of the twentieth century. Some consider him as influential as Domingo Faustino Sarmiento had been for the nineteenth century. His reputation is even more remarkable considering that he had little formal schooling and no university education.

With Martínez Estrada an intellectual movement began in Argentina, the major preoccupation of which was the reassessment of the country's character following the political decadence that began after the military coup of 1930. His book Radiografía de la pampa (1933; The X-Ray of the Pampa) is a condemnation of the elite for trying to impose European modes on the Argentine reality, rejecting what Martínez Estrada considered native traits. In this book he dissected Argentine society and searched for its true nature, as it struggled between urban and rural models. When he raised these questions, he brought everything into the open; he criticized those who emphasized only fragments of Argentine life. Basically, his works represented a search for the essence of Argentina's soul, and, therefore, he called on the Argentines not merely to evaluate their past but also to change the way in which they assessed it.

His literary work is characterized by a great sense of pessimism about the country's future as a result of the political decadence that had come about since 1930. His pessimism grew with the military revolts of the 1940s and with Juan Domingo Perón's anti-intellectual attitude. Martínez Estrada went into self-imposed exile from Buenos Aires to Bahía Blanca and from there to Mexico and Cuba. He wrote two other important books, The Head of Goliath (1940) and Sarmiento (1946), which also deal with social and political thoughts about Argentine society.

See alsoLiterature: Spanish America .


Peter G. Earle, Prophet of the Wilderness: The Works of Ezequiel Martínez Estrada (1971).

Pedro G. Orgambide, Genio y figura de Ezequiel Martínez Estrada (1985).

Juan José Sebreli, Martínez Estrada: Una rebelión inútil (1986).

Additional Bibliography

Alfieri, Teresa. La Argentina de Ezequiel Martínez Estrada. Buenos Aires: Leviatán, 2004.

Rosman, Silvia Nora. Being in Common: Nation, Subject, and Community in Latin American Literature and Culture. Lewisburg, PA: Bucknell University Press, 2003.

                                  Juan Manuel PÉrez

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