Tiempo, César

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TIEMPO, CÉSAR (pseudonym of Israel Zeitlin ; 1906–1980), Argentinean poet and playwright. Born in Yekaterinoslav, Ukraine, he was only nine months old when his family immigrated to Argentina. He became one of the most famous Jewish authors of his generation and was active in literary circles and journalism and known for his struggle against antisemitism both in Argentina and abroad. As a poet, he was aligned with the left-wing literary group Boedo. He published his first volume of poetry as a hoax. Titled Versos de una… (1926), it purported to be the poetry of a Jewish prostitute named Clara Beter. The collection was highly praised, and it caused quite a scandal when César Tiempo revealed he was in fact the author. Subsequent volumes of poetry include Libro para la pausa del sábado (1930), Sabatión argentino (1933), Sabadomingo (1938), and Sábado pleno (1955), all marked by a deep sense of religiosity. These works constitute a poetic project by the author to critically examine the relationship between immigrant Jewish culture and homegrown Argentine culture, often questioning, criticizing, and praising different aspects of that fusion of identities.

His plays are equally defined by his social conscience. Two of his plays, Alfarda (1935) and Quiero vivir (1941), feature the return of Clara Beter. His best-known plays are the experimental El teatro soy yo (1935) and Pan criollo (1938). Tiempo also wrote 14 nonfiction works; one of the most influential was his La campaña antisemita y el director de la Biblioteca Nacional (1935), a forceful response to the extreme antisemitism in Argentina at the time. He also wrote a biography of the famous Argentinean actress Berta Singerman, and a number of tangos. Tiempo's major works of poetry, along with a biography and chronology of his life and a cd of the author reciting some of his most famous poems, are collected in Buenos Aires: esquina Sábado (1997), edited by Eliahu Toker.

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