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Uslar Pietri, Arturo (1906–2001)

Uslar Pietri, Arturo (1906–2001)

Arturo Uslar Pietri (b. 16 May 1906; d. 26 February 2001), Venezuelan writer and politician born in Caracas. Uslar Pietri epitomizes the Latin American writer and intellectual who participates in political life. After obtaining a doctorate in political science (1929), he joined the diplomatic corps and was sent to Paris. He returned to Venezuela in 1934, and taught political economy at the Universidad Central; later he held high positions in several Venezuelan ministries and was a delegate to the League of Nations. After the government fell in 1945, Uslar Pietri went to the United States as an exile and taught at Columbia University. He returned to Venezuela in 1950, reentering political life in 1959 as a senator.

In 1969, Uslar Pietri dedicated himself more to literature and teaching. His essays and fictional works evince his interest in Venezuela's political and economic problems. Currents of democratic thought run through this concern for the national. The first volume of Uslar Pietri's ample and wide-ranging literary output, Barrabás y otros relatos, was published in 1928. Written in a modernist prose style, Barrabás introduces elements of vanguardism by developing the inner voices of the characters. His novel Las lanzas coloradas (1931) brought him fame and was his most important contribution to Spanish American letters. The novel's plot centers on the violence and chaos in the Venezuelan countryside resulting from the military and ideological confusion during the Wars of Independence. This work is a "novel of the land" or a "novel of national interpretation." From 1969 to 1974, he was editor of the Caracas daily newspaper El Nacional. From 1975 to 1979, he lived in Paris and served as the Venezuelan ambassador at UNESCO. After returning to Venezuela, he became a television star on the educational show titled Valores humanos, which focused on history and the arts. He was ninety-four years old when he died in Caracas on 26 February 2001.

Uslar Pietri's most important short-story collection, Red (1936), retains the same vanguardist elements initiated in Barrabás, but in this work the author shifts his attention to the vernacular life by using techniques of magical surrealism. Of this collection, "La lluvia" is considered a masterpiece of the genre. Less important works are El camino de El dorado (1947), a novel about the conqueror Lope de Aguirre; El laberinto de fortuna: Un retrato en la geografía (1962), a political work focusing on the epoch of the Juan Vincente Gómez dictatorship (1908–1935). Essay collections include Letras y hombres de Venezuela (1948), De una a otra Venezuela (1950), Breve historia de la novela hispanoamericana (1954), En busca del Nuevo Mundo (1969), and Bolívar Hoy (1983). Uslar Pietri also wrote about theater in Teatro (1958), a work in which plays of his appear, and turned his hand to poetry in El hombre que voy siendo (1986).

See alsoLiterature: Spanish America.


José Luis Vivas, La cuentística de Arturo Uslar Pietri (1963).

Domingo Miliani, Arturo Uslar Pietri: Renovador del cuento venezolano contemporáneo (1965).

R. M. R. Dougherty, "The Essays of Arturo Uslar Pietri" (Ph.D. diss., University of Illinois, 1971).

John S. Brushwood, The Spanish American Novel (1975), pp. 88-91.

Teresita Josefina Parra, Visión histórica en la obra de Arturo Uslar Pietri (1979).

Additional Bibliography

Arráiz Lucca, Rafael. Arturo Uslar Pietri, o la hipérbole del equilibrio: Biografía. Caracas: Fundación para la Cultura Urbana, 2005.

Arráiz Lucca, Rafael. Arturo Uslar Pietri (1906–2001). Venezuela: Banco del Caribe, 2006.

Febres, Laura, comp. A los amigos invisibles: Visiones de Arturo Uslar Pietri. Caracas: Universidad Metropolitana, 2006.

Menton, Seymour. El cuento hispanoamericano: Antología crítico-histórica. México: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1996.

Uslar Pietri, Arturo, and Leonor Giménez de Mendoza. Arturo Uslar Pietri, 1906–2006. Caracas: Fundación Polar, 2006.

                                 Juan Carlos Galeano

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