The literature of the last twenty years in Argentina has undergone various influences of European currents, from existentialism to structuralism, which not only conditioned philosophical studies and militant criticism, but profoundly influenced artistic creation itself: it is enough to observe the constant presence of themes such as the Heideggerian “living for death” in novelists and playwrights, or the remaking of poetry in ways derived from cultural anthropology, with a recovery of the indigenous past at the level of contemporary consciousness and continuous contrasts of the primitive forces of man – in which much of the lesson of psychoanalysis enters – to the alienation induced by industrial civilization. The ever-widening diffusion of studies, the rich theatrical and cinematographic production.
Among the old writers, E. Mallea, born in 1903, added a series of works to his gallery of characters and to his vast canvases, such as Los enemigos del alma (1950), where the Guillén family lives its frightening decline in a suburban building, La torre (1951) which contrasts life based on economic values with a search for a new interiority, Chávez (1953), La sala de espera (1953), Sinbad (1957) and finally El barco de hielo(1967), a surprising proof of stylistic renewal on the themes of old age and the approach of death. Mallea arrived at a very fine web of sensations and thoughts, in translucent prose, without losing his abilities as a solid builder.
But undoubtedly the trust in reality, the respect for the norms of a culture constituted in civilization, the strong spiritual and historicist charge of Mallea’s work, have appeared aged data, residues of old literature, to the restless protagonists of the narrative of vanguard. It first sought its masters in JL Borges and E. Sábato, writers of a metaphysical foundation, oscillating between pure lyricism and intellectualistic skepticism, only to rebel against them too and try new paths, of which it is not clear for now.
According to ehotelat, in this period Borges saw his international prestige increase, which brought him close to the Nobel Prize on at least three occasions. At the same time the younger critics began to accuse him of cosmopolitanism and lack of civic commitment. But it is a fact that the elderly writer, already almost completely blind and entrenched among the thousands of tomes of the Central Library of Buenos Aires, gave his most personal works at this stage, both rearranging (with additions of many unpublished) his own poems, which perhaps will appear to posterity the most lasting part of his work, both on the side of evoking a largely disappeared Buenos Aires, and on that of philosophical and cosmic meditation; and by producing dazzling symbolic tales such as the well-known El Aleph, and essays in which we find, at the highest level, his Neoplatonic and Gnostic conception of the world, tinged with a subtle air of mockery and literary mystification, reached through the exploration of the “library of Babel”, that is, of rare cultures and notes in which the secret life of humanity is expressed, gradually overwhelmed by the ferocity of history.
It is precisely the negation of history that is the characteristic of these writers, and we also find it in those who, like E. Sábato, born in 1911, do not disdain to confront the real everyday. With El túnel, from 1948, he presents the story of a neurotic painter, madly in love with a married woman, who ends up killing her in defense of his own conscience unable to adapt to the actual state of things. Full of facts, this is a narrative that denies the facts: they accumulate, also generating bloody actions, and yet they seem undifferentiated, that is, they do not have a point of reference in themselves, in their own value, but refer to a universal enigma, to an “arcane” as the French surrealists would have said, of which Sábato was initially a disciple, or to the anguish of living, the central theme of that existentialism whose influence here is very lively. Sábato’s greatest novel, Sobre héroes y tumbas(1961), which was also very successful in Italy, is divided into two parts that are difficult to match, also due to their stylistic discrepancy: one concerns the Olmos family, full of the past (the “heroes” of the last century) and tragic memories, in which a network of mysterious sexual tensions prevails explored in the light of psychoanalysis: and in this part the language is familiar, direct, despite a little emphasis, and in short, it does not stray too far from the realistic model. The other part is the large “Report on the blind” pretending to be written by Fernando Olmos, father of the protagonist Alessandra: here surrealism takes back its rights, with echoes of Kafka, and the prose acquires a poetic lucidity, a transfiguring vehemence Without precedents. With maniacal insistence Fernando leads us to believe in his absurd vision of the world, which would be governed by a conspiracy of blind people; these have decided to make those who see the light of the sun live in pain, always suspended between evil and death. Transparent symbol of the omnipotence of darkness, that is of the forces of the unconscious, on the whole of human life, where intelligence and will are nothing but illusion.
Not far from the thematic of these authors, and at least initially related above all to Borges, J. Cortázar (born in 1914), published fantastic and occult stories in Bestiário (1951) and Las armas secretas (1956), before moving on to the novel with Los premios (1960) and Rayuela(1963). The first tells of a group of Argentines who embark on a cruise, but on the ship they find themselves surrounded by mysterious prohibitions and indecipherable omens, until – after the death of one of them – they find themselves in Buenos Aires, whose waters they actually never left. Existence is a closed circle, a labyrinth, where by dint of wandering one always finds oneself at the starting point: to this Borgesian theme Cortázar adds ferocious satirical episodes against the South American bourgeois and capitalist world. In Rayuelaarranges the novel in an open structure, suggesting different ways of reading, that is, different possible temporal sequences of the chapters: but the most interesting element is the sense of disambiguation of the protagonist, uncertain between Buenos Aires and Paris, to the point of losing his roots, such as it probably happened to the same author during his long stay in France. Next to this protagonist, in the relentless search for his own freedom, is a suggestive female figure, symbolically baptized Maga.
These authors, and with them Argentina Bioy Casares (born in 1914) who also collaborated directly with Borges, still represent the central body of a literature which, later on, sought with difficulty its renewal, and which today is overwhelmed, as every Argentine activity, from the most irrational explosion of violence in Latin American history, to a pessimism about the economic and cultural future of the country that perhaps makes visible, and more understandable than before, the dark motives of such a gloomy and bitter narrative; nor the attempts to change register in the footsteps of the nouveau roman or of the social commitment which returned to the surface after 1968, have yielded appreciable results.
In poetry the last great name remains that of R. Molinari (born in 1898) who inherited the broad and musical use of metaphor from Hispanic surrealism, but above all gave stylistic concreteness to an elegiac, severe conception of life, suspended between immutable nature and transmuting history; one of the highest poet of the Spanish language in our century, whose Obras completas appeared in 1971 in a renewed edition, which testifies to the author’s strenuous stylistic application.
But we cannot forget at least S. Ocampo (born in 1906), also an essayist and cultural animator of high merit, FL Bernardez (born in 1900), O. Muñoz (born in 1936) and above all AJ Castelpoggi (born in 1919) who it represents a return to political poetry on the examples of Éluard or Vallejo, after the tormented and brilliant intimism of Argentina Giari (born in 1918). In dramatic literature, after the great Samuel Eichenbaum (born in 1894) to whom we owe, among other things, Un guapo del novecientos, a formidable evocation of the life of the upper classes in Buenos Aires in the early years of the century, there have been isolated successes, such as that of G. Gorostitza (born in 1920), author of El puente and that of Argentina Cuzzani (born in 1924) author of the beautiful avant-garde comedy El centerforward morrió al amanecer (1953). It should also be remembered, on this line, the series of realistic Historias para ser contadas (1958) by O. DRAGUN, which are followed in the sixties and seventies the efforts are not always convincing imitators Brecht, Beckett, Pinter: phenomenon inevitable in a country that has a very high level theater of direction, scenography and interpretation, and where therefore the bulk of the stage production consists in the dissemination of fashionable foreign texts, when it does not remain on the level of simple popular entertainment. In recent years, then, the vogue of avant-garde shows, of the visual-gestural type, has distanced writers even more from dramaturgy.