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Silva, José Asunción (1865–1896)

Silva, José Asunción (1865–1896)

José Asunción Silva (b. 26 November 1865; d. 24 May 1896), Colombian poet and important precursor of Spanish modernism. Silva was born into wealth, but left school early due to difficulties with his fellow students. He continued to read the classics (French, English, and Spanish) with other young literati and traveled extensively in Europe (1884–1886), where he met Oscar Wilde and Stéphane Mallarmé. His family's ruin in the 1885 civil war forced his return. He attempted to establish a business career, but failed. His lack of success and his sister's death forced him to work as secretary of the Colombian Legation in Venezuela (1894). He lost his manuscripts in a shipwreck on his return trip to Colombia and committed suicide upon failing to rebuild his career a second time. Silva's works are the posthumous De sobremesa (1925), a partly autobiographical novel, and Poesías (1910). Despite their brevity, both are revolutionary in theme and technique. His poems rate among the most musical and rhythmic in the Spanish language. Most notable are "Nocturno III," on the death of his sister Elvira, "Día de difuntos," "Los maderos de San Juan," and "Vejeces."

See alsoLiterature: Spanish America .


Diccionario de la literatura latinoamericana: Colombia (1959).

Betty Tyree Osiek, José Asunción Silva: Estudio estilístico de su poesía (1968).

Héctor H. Orjuela, "De sobremesa" y otros estudios sobre José Asunción Silva (1976).

Betty Tyree Osiek, José Asunción Silva (1978).

Sonya A. Ingwersen, Light and Longing: Silva and Darío: Modernism and Religious Heterodoxy (1986).

Additional Bibliography

Dever, Aileen. The Radical Insufficiency of Human Life: The Poetry of R. de Castro and J.A. Silva. Jefferson: McFarland, 2000.

Jaramillo, María Dolores. José Asunción Silva, poeta y lector moderno. Bogotá: Universidad Nacional de Colombia, 2001.

Osorio, José Jesús. José Asunción Silva y la ciudad letrada. Lewiston: E. Mellen Press, 2006.

                                             MarÍa A. Salgado

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