Zorrilla de San Martín, Juan (1855–1931)

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Zorrilla de San Martín, Juan (1855–1931)

Juan Zorrilla de San Martín (b. 28 December 1855; d. 3 November 1931), Uruguayan statesman and poet. Zorrilla de San Martín received his early education in Jesuit schools in Montevideo and in Santa Fe, Argentina. He received his law degree in 1877 from the university in Santiago de Chile. Returning to Montevideo in 1878, he took a position in the federal courts. In 1880, Zorrilla was appointed professor of aesthetics at the National University in Montevideo.

Zorrilla is best known as the author of the epic poem Tabaré (1888), an homage to the Charrúa Indians and an exaltation of the fusion of Hispanic and indigenous races. The post-romantic verses of Tabaré recite the story of Uruguay—its people, its civilization, its spirit, and its aspirations. A dynamic orator, Zorrilla was also one of the most revered public figures in Uruguay: a defender of his country's democratic institutions and the voice of Uruguay in its art and music, its heritage and traditions.

In 1878, Zorrilla founded El bien público, a Catholic periodical. In 1885, his opposition to President Máximo Santos forced him to resign his position as professor of aesthetics at the National University and take refuge in Argentina, where he joined other Uruguayans in unsuccessful efforts to overthrow Santos.

Zorrilla was elected to Congress by the National Party in 1886. In 1892 he went to Madrid as Uruguayan representative to celebrate the four-hundredth anniversary of Columbus's arrival in the New World, and in 1894 served as Uruguayan ambassador in Paris. In 1899, Zorrilla edited El Bien, the new name of the journal he had founded. In recognition of his many years of public service, the National University in 1899 conferred on Zorrilla the title of professor of international law.

Zorrilla's political views apparently clashed with the policies of the liberal government of José Batlle y Ordóñez during the years 1903–1904. Despite this opposition, Zorrilla was appointed treasurer of the Bank of the Republic and was reelected as a government delegate every three years thereafter until his death.

See alsoBanking: Overview; Literature: Spanish America.


Rimaelvo A. Ardoino, La prosa de Juan Zorrilla de San Martín (1945).

Enrique Anderson Imbert, "La originalidad de Zorrilla de San Martín," in Los grandes libros de Occidente y otros ensayos (1957), pp. 121-163.

Domingo L. Bordoli, Vida de Juan Zorrilla de San Martín (1961).

Carlos A. Solé and Maria Isabel Abreu, Latin American Writers, vol. 1 (1989), pp. 327-331.

Additional Bibliography

Pickenhayn, Jorge Oscar. El amplio mundo de Juan Zorrilla de San Martín: sus aportes en materia literaria (verso y prosa), filosófica, teatral, historiográfica, pictórica y musicológica. Montevideo, Uruguay: Barreiro y Ramos Editores, 1992.

Zuccherino, Ricardo Miguel. La tempestad y la quietud: historia de la relación entre Miguel de Unamuno y Juan Zorrilla de San Martín. La Plata, Argentina: Fondo Editorial "Esto es Historia," 2002.

                                   Myron I. Lichtblau