Rama, Angel (1926–1983)
Rama, Angel (1926–1983)
Born in Montevideo on April 30, 1926, to Spanish immigrants, Angel Rama was an indefatigable Uruguayan literary scholar, journalist, publisher, and educator. Through his teaching and research in Uruguay, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, and the United States, he became one of the most acute cultural critics of Latin America. From the 1960s to his untimely death in a 1983 plane crash near Madrid, and from then to this day, his interdisciplinary work, enthusiasm for teaching, and broad vision of Latin America have inspired generations of younger scholars.
Rama was part of the Uruguayan "Generation of 1945." While studying humanities at the Universidad de la República he worked for Agence France Presse (1945). In 1950 he and Carlos Maggi founded the publishing house Fábula, which brought out Rama's first two books. He married the poet Ida Vitale in 1950 and later joined the influential journal Marcha, directed by Carlos Quijano, remaining a regular contributor until Uruguay's dictatorship closed it down in 1974. Rama was director of the Biblioteca Artigas (1951–1958) and editor of twenty-eight volumes in its collection of Clásicos Uruguayos, and he managed the journal Entregas de la Licorne (1953–1956). With his brother Germán he established the publishing house Arca in 1962. Rama wrote for the Uruguayan newspaper El País and held posts at the National Library of Uruguay (1949–1965). He taught in high school, at the Instituto de Profesores Artigas, and at the Universidad de la República (1966–1974), where he served as head of the Department of Hispanic American literature. He was on the editorial board of the Cuban publication Casa de las Américas from 1964 to 1971, when he resigned over the political trial of the Cuban poet Heberto Padilla. Having divorced Vitale, Rama married Argentine art critic and essayist Marta Traba in 1969 and moved to Puerto Rico, beginning his life in exile. In 1974 they went to Caracas, where he directed the publication of Latin American classics under the general title Biblioteca Ayacucho, and taught at the Universidad Central de Venezuela. He became a tenured professor at the University of Maryland in 1981. Rama died November 27, 1983.
In thirty books and numerous articles, Rama examined literature and cultural topics from all periods of Latin American history. In addition to his work on gaucho poetry, he also wrote about José Martí, Rubén Darío, Horacio Quiroga, Juan Carlos Onetti, and Gabriel García Márquez. His major works include Rubén Darío y el modernismo (1970), Los gauchipolíticos rioplatenses (1976), Transculturación narrativa en América Latina (1982), and the posthumous La ciudad letrada (1984, translated as The Lettered City, 1996).
Angel Rama, 1926–1983: Bibliografía sumaria. College Park: Department of Spanish and Portuguese, University of Maryland, College Park, 1984.
Benedetti, Mario, et al. "Angel Rama, presencia que no acaba." Casa de las Américas 34:192 (July-September 1993): 3-63.
Blixen, Carina, and Alvaro Barros-Lémez. Cronología y bibliografía de Angel Rama. Montevideo, Uruguay: Fundación Angel Rama, 1986.
Moraña, Mabel. Angel Rama y los estudios latinoamericanos. 2nd ed. Pittsburgh, PA: Instituto Internacional de Literatura Iberoamericana, University of Pittsburgh, 2006.
Rama, Angel. Rubén Darío y el modernismo (circunstancia socioeconómica de un arte americano). Caracas: Ediciones de la Biblioteca de la Universidad Central de Venezuela, 1970.
Rama, Angel. Los gauchipolíticos rioplatenses: Literatura y sociedad. Buenos Aires: Calicanto Editorial, 1976.
Rama, Angel. Transculturación narrativa en América Latina. México, D.F.: Siglo Veintiuno Editores, 1982.
Rama, Angel. La ciudad letrada. With a prologue by Hugo Achugar. Hanover, NH: Ediciones del Norte, 1984; Montevideo, Uruguay: Arca, 1998.
Rama, Angel. Las máscaras democráticas del modernismo. Montevideo, Uruguay: Fundación Angel Rama; Arca, 1985.
Rama, Angel. The Lettered City. Translated and edited by John Charles Chasteen. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1996.
William G. Acree Jr.