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Montalvo, Juan (1832–1889)

Montalvo, Juan (1832–1889)

The Ecuadoran writer Juan Montalvo was born on April 13, 1832, in Ambato. His formal schooling ended after two years at the University of Quito. Subsequently he educated himself by extensive reading and travel. He lived in Europe, chiefly France, from 1857 to 1860 and from 1881 until his death on January 27, 1889.

Montalvo dedicated himself primarily to fighting for liberal democratic causes. Though he wrote some minor dramatic works, a few poems, and a novel, he earned his fame as an essayist. In his journalistic work he crusaded against corruption, injustice, and tyranny, employing a writing style that was often combative, polemical, and hyperbolic. After publishing a caustic denunciation of President Gabriel García Moreno entitled La dictadura perpetua (1874), Montalvo claimed that his pen had killed the dictator.

Montalvo's most notable works were Las catilinarias (1880–1882), Siete tratados (1882–1883), El espectador (1886–1900), and a novel, Capítulos que se olvidaron a Cervantes (1895). In addition he published two periodicals, El Cosmopolita (1866–1869) and El Regenerador (1876–1878), that made him famous for vehement attacks on García Moreno and other public figures, including prominent liberals. The four-hundredth anniversary in 2005 of Cervantes's Don Quijote offered new opportunities for interest in Montalvo's Capítulos que se le olvidaron a Cervantes, perhaps his most mature work.

See alsoLiterature: Spanish America .


Anderson Imbert, Enrique. El arte de la prosa en Juan Montalvo. Mexico: El Colegio de México, 1948.

Esteban, Ángel. "Introducción." Capítulos que se le olvidaron a Cervantes, by Juan Montalvo, 13-85. Madrid: Cátedra, 2004.

Reyes, Oscar Efrén. Vida de Juan Montalvo. Quito, Ecuador: Talleres Gráficos de Educación, 1943.

Sacoto, Antonio. Juan Montalvo: El escritor y el estilista, 3rd edition. Quito: Sistema Nacional de Bibliotecas, 1996.

Yerovi, Agustín L. Juan Montalvo, ensayo biográfico. Paris: Imprenta Sudamericana, 1901; repr. 1932.

                                 Mark J. Van Aken

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