Grünberg, Carlos Moisés

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GRÜNBERG, CARLOS MOISÉS (1903–1968), Argentine poet born in Buenos Aires. He was among the most important and influential of Jewish authors of his generation in Argentina. Grünberg received his formal education from the University of Buenos Aires, earning advanced degrees in philosophy and law. In his early volumes of poetry – Las cámaras del rey (1922) and El libro del tiempo (1924) – Grünberg showed a close affiliation with the group of the 1920s avant-garde writers known as the martínfierristas, for their association with the literary journal Martín Fierro. He was also known for his translations of Heinrich Heine and H.N. Bialik into Spanish. He was active in the Zionist movement and was named a liaison between the State of Israel and Argentina in 1948.

Carlos Grünberg was unapologetic in his poetic expression of Jewish identity, which he especially sought to incorporate into his latter works. Much like his contemporary César Tiempo (Israel Zeitlin), Grünberg strove to define Argentine-Jewish identity in his poetry, a sometimes painful but always sincere project. His Mester de juglaría (1940) carried a laudatory preface by Jorge Luis Borges and consecrated him as a poet. Throughout the volume, emphasis is placed on forging a Jewish-Argentine identity. While many of the poems speak directly to the precarious and often dangerous situation for Jews in Argentina, Grünberg clearly posits his faith in the country as a hopeful new homeland. Since his perspective as a Jew was a secular one, in this book he rather forcefully and consistently denounces religiosity and declares his atheism. Junto a un río de Babel (1965), Grünberg's next volume of poetry, is marked by the significant historical events since the publication of Mester. The volume expresses the poet's frustration as a Diaspora Jew as he tries to negotiate his support for the formation of the State of Israel with his Argentine identity. Grünberg's complete works, along with a biography and critical study, are collected in Eliahu Toker (ed.), Un diferente y su diferencia: vida y obra de Carlos M. Grünberg. Carlos Grünberg continues to be considered one of the foremost of early Jewish poets in Argentina. His work has had a lasting impact on subsequent generations and remains as a testament to the poetic imagination as a foundry of cultural identity.

[Darrell B. Lockhart (2nd ed.)]