Sara Gallardo (1931-1988). Image from Wikimedia Commons
This is a guest post by Jordana Blejmar (University of Liverpool) and Joanna Page (University of Cambridge).
Sara Gallardo was born in Buenos Aires in 1931 to an aristocratic Catholic family, with illustrious antecedents such as General Bartolomé Mitre, the writer Miguel Cané, the politician and biologist Ángel Gallardo, all key figures in the constitution of the Argentine nation. Her striking and eclectic fiction has been recently ‘rediscovered’, and the University Library has acquired many of her most important works (see here).
Gallardo travelled extensively in Latin America, Europe and Asia, published five novels, one book of short stories, several chronicles and four books for children. Her love for literature started in childhood. She was constantly ill and spent several days in bed reading books that would later influence her writing, including adventure stories, animal fables and classic works by Walter Scott, Rudyard Kipling and others. In 1950 she became a journalist; in 1958, she published her first novel, Enero (UL classmark: 2016.7.388), the story of a humble maid working on an estancia (a ranch), who falls pregnant following a rape and considers having an abortion. Gallardo presents a portrait of the relationship between patrones and employees without sentimentalism or a patronising gaze, and deals sensitively with issues of prejudice and guilt. Continue reading
2018 marks 50 years since La traición de Rita Hayworth, the debut novel by the Argentinian author Manuel Puig, was first published. Puig (1932–1990) is best-known outside the Spanish-speaking world for his fourth novel, 1976’s El beso de la mujer araña (Kiss of the Spider Woman) and its successful film, theatre and musical adaptations. However, his debut (Betrayed by Rita Hayworth in its English translation) remains his most directly personal novel, and introduces many of the themes and ideas that run throughout his work.
1st edition of La traición de Rita Hayworth, with a picture of the author on the cover
Most authors’ first novels represent, in some way, a culmination of their life up to that point, but this is particularly true of La traición de Rita Hayworth. In fact, the book is almost as purely autobiographical as a work of fiction can be.
The book’s setting, Coronel Vallejos is a thinly veiled version of Puig’s hometown General Villegas. Boquitas Pintadas (Heartbreak Tango), his second novel – and first big commercial success – is also set there. His mother Malé had moved to Villegas, a dusty pampas backwater in Buenos Aires Province, from the state capital of La Plata, and met and married Manuel’s father Baldo there. Both the physical landscape of Manuel’s childhood and the people around him were clearly mirrored in his early work. His parents, a somewhat ill-matched couple, are represented in La traición de Rita Hayworth by Berto, a typical small-town Argentinian macho with matinée idol looks, and Mita, an educated woman nostalgic for her more cosmopolitan hometown and enamored of cinema and the arts.
Jorge Luis Borges, Argentina’s most influential writer, died in Geneva on 14th June 1986. To mark the 30th anniversary of his death, this blog-post features a 24-page gem of a publication by the author, which is part of Gilbert de Botton’s Montaigne Library, donated to the UL in 2008. Borges was one of the 20th century’s most prominent authors and intellectuals, and wrote essays, poetry and short-stories that have since become classics. He was a candidate for the Nobel Prize in Literature for 30 years, but never won it, allegedly due to his conservative views.
With a population of 2.8 million, Buenos Aires has 734 bookstores, an average of 25 for every 100,000 inhabitants. This is a staggering number – if compared with London, for example – with just 10 bookstores for every 100,000 people, as The Guardian reports. In the linked article, Uki Goñi argues that the exemption of books from standard sales tax in Argentina is partly responsible for the industry boom.