Quiroga, Horacio (1878–1937)

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Quiroga, Horacio (1878–1937)

Horacio Quiroga (b. 31 December 1878; d. 19 February 1937), Uruguayan writer and one of Spanish America's greatest narrators. Quiroga was born in Salto; his father died in a hunting accident when he was three months old. Quiroga's life had more than its share of violent personal tragedies—his stepfather and one of his two wives committed suicide and Quiroga killed one of his best friends in a gun accident—which explains his interest in death and the monstrous. His earliest literary influence was Edgar Allan Poe.

Quiroga attended the University of Montevideo for a short time. In 1903 he went to Misiones, the following year to the Argentine Chaco. When the farming venture failed, he went to Buenos Aires, taught school, and married. In 1915 his wife committed suicide. During the ensuing decade, he wrote some of his best stories, including Cuentos de amor, de locura y de muerte (1917), the haunting Cuentos de la selva (1918; South American Jungle Tales, 1941), and Los desterrados (1926); he also published in the journal Caras y Caretas.

To make ends meet, he served as Uruguay's consul in Buenos Aires from 1917 to 1926, and he married again in 1927. In 1932 he returned to San Ignacio, Misiones, with his second wife and children as Uruguay's consul. When the consulate closed, Quiroga returned to Buenos Aires, plagued by lifelong asthma and neurasthenia. He was diagnosed with cancer and in 1937 took his own life. Many of his more than 200 powerful stories, written with great economy of style, are set in the spectacular Argentine wilderness—the jungle, the plantations, the powerful Paraná River. Although his early writings tend to deal more with the extraordinary, the monstrous, and talking animals, his later production drew more on his own rich experience with people. The Exiles and Other Stories (1987) and The Decapitated Chicken and Other Stories (1976) represent some of his best writings translated into English.

See alsoLiterature: Spanish America .


Emir Rodriguez Monegal, El desterrado: Vida y obra de Horacio Quiroga (1968).

Angel Flores, ed., Aproximaciones a Horacio Quiroga (1976).

George D. Schade, "Horacio Quiroga," in Latin American Writers, edited by Carlos A. Solé and M. I. Abreu, vol. 2 (1989), pp. 551-558.

Additional Bibliography

French, Jennifer. Nature, Neo-Colonialism, and the Spanish American Regional Writers. Hanover, NH: Dartmouth College Press, 2005.

Orgambide, Pedro G. Horacio Quiroga: una historia de vida. Buenos Aires: Planeta, 1994.

Pasteknik, Elsa Leonor. El Mito en la obra de Horacio Quiroga. Buenos Aires: Editorial Plus Ultra, 1997.

                             Georgette Magassy Dorn