Rozenmacher, Germán

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ROZENMACHER, GERMÁN (1936–1971), Argentine playwright and short-story writer. He was born to a religious family in Buenos Aires, where his father was a ḥazzan and mohel. He graduated from the University of Buenos Aires and went on to work as a teacher of Hebrew, a journalist, a theater critic, and a playwright for television. Rozenmacher was considered to be one of the foremost Argentine writers to emerge in the 1960s, first earning recognition for his short stories and later for his plays. He was killed in an automobile accident in August 1971.

Rozenmacher achieved fame with his collection of stories Cabecita negra (1962), which examines the influence of Peronism on Argentine society in a variety of innovative and interesting settings. While the majority of the stories speak to the general Argentine population by depicting the solitude, despair, poverty, and frustration occasioned by social injustice, three of the stories deal specifically with the often difficult Jewish experience in Buenos Aires.

Rozenmacher gained permanent renown for his four dramatic works, which have become classics of Argentine theater. His first play, Requiem para un viernes a la noche was presented in 1964 at the Yiddishes Folks Teaterift (Jewish Popular Theater) in Buenos Aires. It played for two years and continues to be produced. It has been studied mainly as a play about generational conflict, cultural identity, and assimilation. It is clear that the play reflects many aspects of his own life: he married a Catholic woman, and he dedicated the play to both his parents and his wife. Rozenmacher offers no solution to the problems presented in the play. Indeed, the work seems to signal the fact that there is no reconciliation possible between the opposing stances represented by father and son in the play and therein lays the tragedy. His play El Lazarillo de Tormes presented in 1971 was based on the 16th-century Spanish picaresque novel of the same title. Jewish themes are present only obliquely in the play, mainly when the topic of the Inquisition arises. Simón Brumelstein, el caballero de Indias was written in 1971, but not performed until 1982 and finally published in 1987. It is often considered to be his most ambitious and accomplished play. Simón, the main character, lives in a fantasy world and struggles with his deep desire to assimilate wholly into Argentine society and shed his Jewishness. However, he is constantly reminded that he will never be permitted to be completely Argentine. Ultimately, Simón Brumelstein is about the clash of cultures, assimilation, antisemitism, and crises of identity. His works have stood the test of time and found their place in the Argentine literary canon of the 20th century.

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