Puig, Manuel (1932–1990)

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Puig, Manuel (1932–1990)

Manuel Puig (b. 28 December 1932; d. 22 July 1990), Argentine novelist. Born in General Villegas, Buenos Aires Province, he was educated at a U.S. boarding school in Buenos Aires. Puig had such a childhood passion for American movies that he learned English in 1942 to enjoy them more thoroughly. He also was very interested in French and Italian movies and studied filmmaking in Italy on a scholarship during the mid-1950s. Returning to Argentina in 1960, Puig began writing film scripts and working as an assistant director in the Argentine film industry. He then moved to New York City to devote himself to writing.

Under the disguise of pop literature, Puig built a complex narrative oeuvre, in which, paradoxically, he used film techniques. Both La traición de Rita Hayworth (1968; Betrayed by Rita Hayworth, 1971) and Boquitas pintadas (1969; Heartbreak Tango, 1973) examine the narrow world of alienated human beings who find refuge in the massive consumption of movies and soap operas. These initial novels, together with the rest of his production, including The Buenos Aires Affair (1973) and El beso de la mujer araña (1976; Kiss of the Spider Woman, 1979), implicitly attack the stratified and conventional realism of the traditional novel and the cultural foundations of the experimental and vanguardist novel, and they demystify modern Argentine conventions. He used sexual frustration as a literary tool for his task of demolition both at the individual and social levels.

One of the major interests of Puig's books resides in the kind of clichéd speech used by his characters, a speech canonized by the mass media. It is a euphemistic language that reveals the aberrant character of the linguistic codes of the mass culture, which confers a "subversive" dimension to his literature. He published a total of eight novels, two plays, and two movie scripts. He received the Curzio Malaparte Award (Italy) in 1986 for his novel Sangre de amor correspondido (1983; Blood of Requited Love, 1984).

See alsoCinema: From the Silent Film to 1990 .


Alfred Macadam, "Manuel Puig: Things as They Are," in Modern Latin American Narratives: The Dreams of Reason (1977): 91-101.

Naomi Lindstrom, "The Problem of Pop Culture in the Novels of Manuel Puig," in The American Hispanist 4 (1978): 28-31.

Frances Wyers Weber, "Manuel Puig at the Movies," in Hispanic Review 49, no. 2 (1981): 163-181.

David W. Foster, "Latin American Documentary Narrative," in PMLA 99, no. 1 (1984): 41-55.

Lucille Kerr, Suspended Fictions: Reading Novels by Manuel Puig (1987).

Additional Bibliography

Craig, Linda. Juan Carlos Onetti, Manuel Puig and Luisa Valenzuela: Marginality and Gender. Rochester, UK: Tamesis, 2005.

Giordano, Alberto. Manuel Puig: La conversación infinita. Buenos Aires: Beatriz Viterbo Editora, 2001.

Levine, Suzanne Jill. Manuel Puig and the Spider Woman: His Life and Fictions. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000.

Logie, Ilse. La omnipresencia de la mímesis en la obra de Manuel Puig: Análisis de cuatro novelas. Amsterdam; New York: Rodopi, 2001.

                                    Angela B. Dellepiane