Piñera, Virgilio (1912–1979)

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Piñera, Virgilio (1912–1979)

Virgilio Piñera (b. 4 August 1912; d. 18 October 1979), Cuban poet, playwright, short-story writer, and novelist. Piñera was born in Cárdenas in Matanzas Province. He received a doctorate in philosophy and letters from the University of Havana in 1940. In 1942 he founded and managed the magazine Poeta. He lived in Buenos Aires for fourteen years, working on the staff of the Cuban consulate and eventually as a translator for the Argos publishing house. In Buenos Aires he befriended the Polish novelist Witold Gombrowicz, whose 1961 novel Ferdydurke he later helped translate into Spanish; he also published in the highly regarded magazine Sur. After returning to Cuba in 1955, Piñera and José Rodríguez Feo founded the literary publication Ciclón. In 1968 he won first prize in the Casa de las Américas contest for his play Dos viejos pánicos.

One of the most original and unique writers in all of Cuban history, Piñera excelled in the genres of poetry, drama, and the short story. His writing style is detached and concise; his work is noted for its black humor and use of the absurd. Piñera was always at odds with the Cuban Revolution, and upon his death many of his unpublished works were confiscated. Of these, two collections of short stories have been published posthumously (Un fogonazo and Muecas para escribientes, both 1987). Among his best works are Cuentos fríos (short stories, 1956), Dos viejos pánicos (drama, 1968), Electra garrigó (drama, 1960), La isla en peso (poem, 1943), La vida entera (poetry, 1969), and Teatro completo (drama, 1960).

See alsoCuba, Revolutions: Cuban Revolution; Theater.


Carmen L. Torres, La cuentística de Virgilio Piñera (1989).

Additional Bibliography

Abreu Arcia, Alberto. Virgilio Piñera: Un hombre, una isla. El Vedado: Ediciones Unión, 2002.

Anderson, Thomas F. Everything in Its Place: The Life and Works of Virgilio Piñera. Lewisburg, PA: Bucknell University Press, 2006.

Valerio-Holguín, Fernando. Poética de la frialdad: La narrativa de Virgilio Piñera. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1997.

                                      Roberto Valero