Biography of Julio Cortazar | Argentine writer, one of the great figures of the «boom» of Latin-American literature of the 20th century.

(Brussels, 1914 - Paris, 1984) Argentine writer, one of the great figures of the «boom» of Latin-American literature of the 20th century. Related to Borges as intelligent grower of the fantastic tale, the short stories of Cortázar departed however the allegory of metaphysical to investigate the disturbing and enigmatic facets of everyday life, in a quest for authenticity and sense deep for the real thing always found away from the strait-jacket of the beliefs, patterns and established routines. Its renewal effort manifests itself primarily in the style and subversion of genres that can be seen in many of his books, among which the novel Rayuela (1963), with its two possible orders of reading, excels as his masterpiece.


Son of a civil servant assigned to the Argentine Embassy in Belgium, his birth coincided with the start of the first world war, so their parents stayed longer than expected in Europe. In 1918, at the age of four, Julio Cortázar travelled with them to Argentina, to settle in the Buenos Aires suburb of Banfield.

Julio Cortázar in 1967
After completing his primary studies, he continued teaching and lyrics and for five years was a rural teacher. He later went to Buenos Aires, and in 1951 he travelled to Paris on a scholarship. After this, his work as a translator of UNESCO allowed him to settle definitely in the French capital. Then Julio Cortázar had already published in Buenos Aires the presence poems under the pseudonym of "Julio Denis", dramatic poem the Kings and the first of his series of short stories, bestiary, which warns the profound influence of Jorge Luis Borges.
In the 1960's, Julio Cortázar became one of the leading figures of the so-called «boom» of American literature and enjoyed international recognition. His name was placed on the same level as the great protagonists of the «boom»: Gabriel García Márquez, Mario Vargas Llosa, the Mexican Juan Rulfo and Carlos Fuentes or the Argentine Jorge Luis Borges, among others. Unlike his compatriot, Cortázar joined his artistic sensitivity social concern: identified with the underclass and was very close to the left-wing movements.
In this sense, his trip to Cuba in 1962 was a decisive experience in his life and the trigger for a radical change of attitude that would deeply influence in his life and in his work: the introverted intellectual who had been until then will become a political activist. Thanks to its social and political awareness, in 1970 he travelled to Chile to attend the ceremony of inauguration as President Salvador Allende and, later, to Nicaragua to assist the sandinista movement. As a public figure, Julio Cortázar intervened strongly in the defense of human rights, and was one of the promoters and most active members of the Russell Tribunal.
As part of this commitment wrote numerous articles and books, including Dossier Chile: the black book, about the excesses of the regime of general Pinochet, and Nicaragua, so wildly sweet, testimony of the sandinista struggle against the Somoza dictatorship, which included the revelation in Solentiname story and poem news for travelers. Three years before his death adopted French nationality, although without renouncing to argentina. He died in Paris on February 12, 1984, shortly after widowed by his second wife, Carol Dunlop.

The work of Julio Cortázar

Cortázar literature based on a questioning of life, close to the Existentialist approaches in that it can be characterized as a search for authenticity, of the profound meaning of life and the world. This theme was expressed sometimes in works of experimental character, which makes it one of the greatest innovators of language and narrative in Spanish.
As Jorge Luis Borges, his stories delve into fantasy, but not leaving therefore the benchmark for everyday reality: in fact, the emergence of fantasy in everyday life shows precisely the huge complexity of "real". For Cortazar, the immediate reality means a path to other records of the real, where the fullness of life reaches multiple formulations. That is why his narrative constitutes a permanent questioning of reason and of the conventional thought patterns.

Julio Cortázar
In the work of Cortázar, instinct, random, the enjoyment of the senses, the humor and the game eventually relate to writing, which is at the same time the formulation of existing in the world. Ruptures of chronological and spatial orders take the reader of their point of view conventional, proposing different possibilities of participation, so that the Act of reading is called to complete the narrative universe. Such proposals reached its more finished expression in novels, especially at Rayuela, considered one of the fundamental works of Spanish literature, and in his short stories, where, despite his highly original style and its unique narrative rhythm rule, stood closer to the conventions of the genre. Notably, among others many tales, taken home , or Las babas del diablo, both brought to the film, and Tracker, whose protagonist evokes the figure of the black saxophonist Charlie Parker.
Although his first book poems of presence (1938, signed with the pseudonym of «Julio Denis»), followed by the Kings, a reconstruction also poetry of the myth of the Minotaur, this stage generally considered prehistoric Cortázar, and tend to be as home of his bibliography stories that integrated Bestiario (1951), published on the same date in which started his exile. To this late initiation (approached by then forty years) tends to be the perfection of his work, which from this delivery will not contain a single text which may be considered minor.
It should be noted, in addition, a singularity opened simultaneously with the delivery: the successive collections of tales of Cortázar would retain that kind of structural perfection almost Classicist, within the canons of the genre. The rest of its production (novels extremely disconcerting and miscellaneous texts) moves to the point of generic conventions which is hardly classifiable. In fact, much of the criticism most appreciates his flawless storyteller that the subversive prose facet.

The tales

In the context of the story, Julio Cortázar is an exquisite grower of the fantasy genre, with a unique ability to merge into its accounts the worlds of imagination and everyday life, resulting in a product that is highly disturbing. Illustration of this is, Bestiario (1951), a tale as "Taken home", in which a pair of brothers perceive how, daily, his large mansion is being occupied by strange and indefinable presences which end first, causing their confinement within the House, and, later, their final expulsion.
The same could be said concerning the secret weapons (1959), whose stories include "The tracker", which is leading to a critic of jazz who has written a book about a famous saxophonist drunk and drug addict. When you have to prepare the second edition of the same, Jonnhy, saxophonist, want to expose their opinions about their own music and the book, but in reality, not tells him nothing; does not seem to have anything profound to say, as the author of the book, nor has it for what, Johnny dead, the Second Edition only differs from the first by the addition of an obituary.

Julio Cortázar
In the end of the game (1964) tales, we find some of the most cruel descriptions of Cortázar, as for example "the maenads', a nightmare; but also there are satires, as in "The band", in which its protagonist, tired of the prevailing system in your country (alluding to peronism), was banishes voluntarily, as Cortázar did to Paris in 1951. In "Axolotl", after daily and obsessively contemplating a specimen of these amphibians in an aquarium, the narrator of the story sees itself become one more than them, recovering so the theme of the old Aztec myth.
Of all fires the fire (1966), composed by other eight stories, we must highlight "Southern Expressway", a love story born during a traffic jam, whose protagonists, who have not told their names, are swept away by the flood of vehicles when the jam melts and not already never meet again. Impressive is also the story that gives title to the collection, which is admirably mixed one current story with another that occurred hundreds of years ago.
Also eight tales of octahedron (1974), the fantastic again mixed with the life of men, often in the most unexpected moment of its existence. Closest to open to normal and everyday are its latest three collections of stories, Alguien que anda por Ahí (1977), we both want to Glenda and other stories (1980) and fee (1982), therefore they are no longer present themes and motifs that characterise its production.

Rayuela and unclassifiable narrative

But it is far from the short story where resides the revolutionary and unique fingerprint that Julio Cortázar left in the literature in the Spanish language, from his novel initial (Awards, 1960) to the amorous bounce textual Nicaragua, so violently sweet (1984). The climax of this innovative proposal which annihilate the generic conventions was the writing of Rayuela (1963).
Starring an alter ego of Cortázar, Horacio Oliveira, Rayuela narrates the journey of an Argentine intellectual in Paris (first part) and then in Argentina (second part), to add, in the third part and mode of sundries, a series of notes, newspaper clippings, poems and quotes that can be inserted in the reading of the first two, depending on the route you decide the reader , from the two proposed by the author.
Amorous disputes between La Maga and Horacio Oliveira, the intellectual conflicts of Horacio, a wide network of cultural references, with the jazz in the preferred position, and the invitation to the participation of the reader as co-author of this open work, found in the climate of cultural effervescence of the 1960's his perfect field of development. Rayuela has so left as one of the indispensable emblems of the Argentine culture of that time, where the novel by Julio Cortázar occupied a central place and was the subject of all sorts of sieges and critical comments.
Some of the successive novels of Cortázar were an attempt to move in the direction of hopscotch: well, entitled 62. Model to build (1968) is an excellent comment in parallel, drawn from a proposal suggested in Chapter 62 of his masterpiece. In the Book of Manuel (1973), the experimentalism gives way to an attempt to explain the difficult coexistence between political commitment and individual freedom.
With regard to the genre of the "almanacs", this combination specifically all the genres in none, Cortázar is imperative to refer to titles such as last round (1969) or the return to the day in eighty worlds (1967). Such volumes, difficult to classify, alternate the tale with the essay, poem and narrative or critical fragment. This section deserve mention apart the ineffable stories cronopios and famas (1962), funny and complex symbolic characters with unique attitudes towards life, such a Lucas (1979), ironic portrait of a strange consistency character, and the almost posthumous Los autonautas de the cosmopista (1983), unique mix of travel journal and testament of love.
Extracted from the website: Biografías y Vidas
Biographies of historical figures and personalities

Recommended Contents