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Mutis, Alvaro (1923–)

Mutis, Alvaro (1923–)

Alvaro Mutis (b. 29 August 1923), Colombian novelist and poet. Known as a poet most of his life, Mutis, a native of Bogotá, blossomed as one of Colombia's major novelists during the 1980s and 1990s. He has published more than fifteen books of poetry and fiction. Mutis began publishing poetry in the 1940s, and continued in the 1950s and 1960s, describing a decaying world, often in a satirical tone. Many of his prose poems are narrated in the bitter and ironic voice of a character named Maqroll el Gaviero. One of Mutis's major books of poetry is Los trabajos perdidos (1965). He has lived most of his adult life in Mexico.

In 1986, at the age of sixty-three, Mutis published his first novel, La nieve del almirante, followed by Ilona llega con la lluvia (1987). Following the pattern and tone established in his prose poems, Mutis made Maqroll el Gaviero the protagonist of these two novels. Maqroll travels by ship to several countries, and the reader follows his spiritual voyage. Maqroll's mysterious and secretive travels continued in Un bel morir (1989), La última escala del Tramp Steamer (1989), and several other works of fiction. In all of his writing, Mutis tends to portray failure as a form of triumph. In 1989, he won the Prix Médicis in France, and the following year he won the Premio Príncipe de Asturias de Letras in Spain. In 2001, the Spanish government awarded him the Miguel de Cervantes prize for achievement in literature. In 2002, he won the Neustadt Prize for Literature in the United States. His work has been translated in English, Portuguese, Dutch, French, German, Italian, and Swiss, among other languages.

See alsoLiterature: Spanish America .


Giuseppe Bellini, Historia de la literatura hispanoamericana (1985).

George R. McMurray, Spanish American Writing Since 1941 (1987).

J. G. Cobo Borda, Alvaro Mutis (1989).

Additional Bibliography

Cobo Borda, J.G. Para leer a Alvaro Mutis. Bogotá, Colombia: Espasa, 1998.

García Aguilar, Eduardo. Celebraciones y otras fantasmas: Una biografía intelectual de Alvaro Mutis. Barcelona, Spain: Casiopea, 2000.

Siemens, William L. Las huellas de lo trascendental: La obra de Alvaro Mutis. México: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 2002.

                                Raymond Leslie Williams

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