ROBERTO ARLT NOVELIST Journalist Inventor Recipe AUTOGRAPH ARGENTINA AUTHOR
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ROBERTO ARLT NOVELIST Journalist Inventor Recipe AUTOGRAPH ARGENTINA AUTHOR:
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ROBERTO ARLT NOVELIST Journalist Inventor Cooking Recipe Original SignedRoberto Arlt (Buenos Aires, April 26, 1900 - Buenos Aires, July 26, 1942) was an Argentine novelist, storyteller, playwright, journalist and inventor.
The narrative of Roberto Arlt (1900-1942) from the first half of the 20th century , establishes -like Borges- a literary paradigm that will influence the Argentine narrative of his time and in contemporary times. Despite its short life, his work encompassed various genres, the novel, in which the raoffer toy (1926), the crazy seven and the flamethrower (1929 and 1931) and the brujo love (1932) stand out. Linked to journalism, he publishes numerous stories, compiled in El jorobadito (1933) and El crjador de gorilas (1941), and his famous etchings in magazines and newspapers such as El Mundo. Madness, marginality, humiliation, betrayal, political conspiracy, technical invention will be the main themes of his entire narrative. His fictions have Buenos Aires as the main setting and middle class characters as protagonists, in the context of the economic-social crisis and the unrest in the face of the imminent world war during the 1920s and 1930s. He also devoted himself to theater and his works were put on at the Teatro del Pueblo. He occupied an eccentric place in the literary field and, although his narrative incorporates colloquial language, his style was not that of traditional realism, but was close to the historical avant-garde with his expressionist imprint, created an aesthetic of the grotesque and carried out an exploration of the fantastic. From this original perspective,
Roberto Arlt, (born April 2, 1900, Buenos Aires, Arg.—died July 26, 1942, Buenos Aires), novelist, short-story writer, dramatist, and journalist who pioneered the novel of the absurd in Argentinian literature.
A first-generation descendant of German immigrants, Arlt felt alienated from Argentine society. The world of his novels El juguete rabioso (1926; “The Raoffer Toy”), Los siete locos (1929; “The Seven Madmen”), Los lanzallamas (1931; “The Flame Throwers”), and El amor brujo (1932; “False Love”) is grotesque and nightmarish and is filled with anguished, half-insane characters who are in revolt against society. His Aguafuertes porteñas (1950; “Etchings from the Port”) and Nuevas aguafuertes porteñas (1960), orginally published as articles in El Mundo, are picaresque sketches of the people of Buenos Aires that show great psychological perception and intense irony. Among Arlt’s plays, Trescientos millones (1932; “Three Hundred Million”) and Saverio el cruel (1936; “Saverio the Cruel,” not staged until 1956) stand out. Trescientos millones is rich in its use of experimental techniques, and Saverio is notable for its treatment of reality along Pirandellian lines. Arlt’s complete fictional works were published in 1963.
Roberto Arlt BiographyThe image of writer and biography of Roberto Arlt have changing edges and sometimes contradictory in terms of certain data of his birth and their names. Arlt himself modified the day of his birth in some of his autobiographies, even those with a humorous intention. There are also different names on your birth certificate and on your baptismal record. Sylvia Saítta in her book on Arlt, The Writer in a Brick Forest. A biography of Roberto Arlt (2000) 1, has been in charge of specifying these variants of your identity. However, Saítta clarifies that Roberto Arlt was born on April 26, 1900, as specified in his birth certificate with the name of Roberto Arlt and not as other biographers who have indicated that he was noted with the name of Roberto Godofredo Christophers Arlt . His father, named Carlos Arlt, was of Prussian origin and spoke German; his mother, Ekatherine Iobstraibitzer, was born in Trieste, and her original language was Italian.
Anyway, Arlt signs his first autobiographical texts as Roberto Godofredo Christophersen Arlt, this modification of his name, promoted by the writer himself, which does not coincide with the certificate in the Civil Registry, is likely to have contributed to the confusion. In addition to this line of misunderstandings about their names, the written record of their baptism is added, which we reproduce in the Images section of this Portal, where the future narrator appears with the name of "Roberto Emilio Gofredo Arlt." The "Gofredo" thing may be a mistake made by the parish clerk on the certificate when he tried to write "Godofredo."
On the other hand, it is known that the same writer with some of the references to his life manages to build an image of a terrible and rebellious child in the period of his childhood and during his schooling stage, in the schools of the Flores neighborhood where he lives with His parents. Those statements show him as a rowdy and bad student in front of his teachers. Saítta, points out that although he certainly repeats third grade, he is not expelled from school as Arlt says, but he passes it in a new course. Likewise, it is known that the future writer successfully completes the fifth grade, which apparently was in many schools at that time the last year of primary school. He finishes those studies when he is already a teenager, at the age of 14.
Arlt's family lives in difficult economic conditions, his father changes jobs frequently, although he had stable moments when he worked as a bookkeeper in some German business houses. Ekatherine Iobstraibitzer and Lila Arlt, mother and sister of Roberto ArltHowever, in various circumstances he leaves his family to settle in Corrientes and Misiones, where he is employed in companies dedicated to the exploitation of yerba mate. In turn, he fails in his attempts to carry out some business ventures of his own.
In the midst of these worrying family and economic circumstances, Arlt is encouraged by his mother in his studies but at the same time she encourages him to work from a very young age to help support the basic expenses of his family home. He does it for short periods, in a bicycle shop in his neighborhood, Flores; Later, when his father is absent from home, he is employed as a wrapping paper seller and must serve his customers in various shops in the area.
Arlt in his adolescence gets on badly with his father, who is very violent and subjects him to severe corporal punishment. At one point the situation becomes too tense and the father throws him out of his house. That is why during those years Arlt carried out various jobs to be able to survive, he made apprenticeships as a clerk in a bookstore, in a mechanical workshop, in the port, in a brick factory and sometimes he performs tasks as a painter, as he himself tells it in one of his etchings in the newspaper El Mundo (Saítta, 2000: 20).
Despite these occupations, the adolescent Arlt knows the bookstores in his neighborhood. He frequents those of the brothers Juan Antonio and Carlos Pellerano, the so-called "La Linterna" by Ángel Luppo and the one by Ángel José Pariente, all located on Rivadavia street. He buys, sells and rents in these bookstores the books he chooses to read, he is passionate about brochures, but also technical manuals, popular science and occult books. He is a regular at an Anarchist Library, the Florencio Sánchez Cultural Center and attends a neighborhood literary gathering that takes place in the Pariente bookstore. In another gathering, published by La Idea, around 1916, they introduce him to Conrado Nalé Roxlo, who will be his intellectual friend for many years. With him he will share readings and a certain passion for Baudelaire at that time.
In these adolescent years, his initial readings are the various volumes of Pierre-Alexis Ponson du Terrail's soap opera, The Rocambole exploits . In addition to his fervor for Baudelaire, Arlt has also pointed out that of other authors such as Verlaine, Carrere and Murger 2 . The influence of these authors and, especially, that of The Rocambole exploits is recognizable among the literary enthusiasms of the character Silvio Astier in his first novel The Raoffer Toy (1926).
Arlt is perhaps one of the few outstanding writers in the early twentieth century who comes from the middle class with limited economic resources, the son of poor immigrants, educated in public school and practically self-taught in the city of Buenos Aires. Its territory is the neighborhood of Flores, social gatherings, public libraries, socialists, anarchists, neighborhood culture centers, journalism and popular publications.
At this stage of initiation in writing, his readings are very different from those of other Argentine narrators of his generation. He does not have the European training of Borges, and even less that of upper-class writers such as Adolfo Bioy Casares or the most enlightened of some of the intellectuals who will belong to the circle of collaborators of the Martín Fierro o Sur magazine . Their culture is a culture of «mixing», the language of their stories is a passionate endeavor to bring together the influence of the familiar Italian-German with the syntax and tone of the Spanish language from the River Plate. Although it seems a common place, it is necessary to say that Arlt lived to write and wrote to live. That is why he stated thatwhen you have something to say, you write it anywhere. On a paper bovine or in a hellish room and at the same time, he expressed that making a living writing is painful and rude 3 .
Beatriz Sarlo has specified that in the narrative of Horacio Quiroga and Roberto Arlt, despite the differences in poetics and ages, the fascination for technical invention that he expresses in his fictions participates in a web of relations between middle and popular sectors, public the big newspapers, intellectuals of the journalistic elite, social repeaters and neighborhood organizations in the context of urban changes 4 . His works in some way represent the signs of the modernization stage of culture and the social imaginary in Buenos Aires in the 1920s and 1930s.
Portrait of Roberto Arlt that appeared on the cover of «The hidden sciences in the city of Buenos Aires» (1928)In this dimension of the neighborhood culture, Arlt publishes his first story, entitled "Jehovah" in the Popular Magazine , in No. 26, of June 24, 1918, a magazine that has existed since the previous year and is directed by the journalist and writer Soiza Reilly at the time. Stimulated by that first appearance of a story of his, Arlt began to write his first novel around 1919, The Raoffer Toy , which at that time was called La vida puerca.. His biographers agree that Arlt's enthusiasm for such an initiative leads him to walk with his novel in preparation everywhere and that he often used to harass his friends in the bars he frequents when reading the first chapters. On the other hand, shortly afterwards he publishes a literary essay entitled The hidden sciences in the city of Buenos Aires , in Free Tribune , No. 63, of January 28, 1920. In the center of the cover of this pamphlet a photo by Arlt himself. The essay is considered in the edition as a "fictional essay" and he signs it with the name of Roberto Godofredo Arlt.
Although Arlt's narrative can be described as expressionist, one of the forms of the historical avant-garde of the 1920s, as José Amícola 5 points out in an essay , it is known that he did not participate in or belong to the group of the Martín Fierro magazine , the publication of the porteño poetic avant-garde, nor was it linked during the 1930s to the group of writers, such as Borges and others, who were related to the magazine Sur, directed by Victoria Ocampo. Nor did he belong to Boedo's group, that of realist writers of the 1920s and 1930s, whose paradigms rescued the tradition of nineteenth-century realism aggiornated with a critical intention that claimed the possibility of transforming social reality. Somehow, Raúl Larra tries to place Arlt in this literary trend, taking into account the critical view of this narrator's fictions about the behavior of Buenos Aires society, in his book Roberto Arlt, el torturado de 1950.
For a time, a certain criticism influenced by Larra's essay and by the different autobiographical texts that Arlt writes configured an almost mythical image of a lonely, marginal writer, without studies and lacking recognition from his peers and the public.
However, shortly after, towards the mid-1950s, another critical look dispels this mystified vision of the writer. In particular, the new readings that are made from the magazine Contorno (David Viñas, Oscar Masotta, Juan José Sebreli) 6 , will imply that the narrative of Arlt is placed without prejudice or ideological and literary forcing in the center of the Argentine literary system ( Saítta, 2000: 11).
Added to this recognition by these critics are the studies of David Viñas, Adolfo Prieto, Noé Jitrik, Ricardo Piglia, Beatriz Sarlo, Sylvia Saítta and a series of essays and readings by as many critics and academics that will give an account of the originality and exceptionality of his poetic narrative.
Some of those readings carried out in the 1980s placed Arlt as a writer outside of any canon of the Argentine narrative tradition, among them Ricardo Piglia. In any case, it is possible to think that the concept of canon changes in each context, it is a category of critical interpretation that is also temporary. By the way, perhaps it is better to place Arlt as a writer in the space of the cultural context of his time, as the main critics mentioned about his work have done from different points of view and to observe his aesthetic choices and the way that with his own narrative realizes what Jacques Rancière calls the politics of literature 7 and, from the current perspective of the contemporaneity of the 21st century, to think that Roberto Arlt could be located in the history of Argentine literature in a particular canon; that is to say, that of eccentric writers, who in other words do not have a central place in the cultural field, but we can place them in that exceptional area that is to be out of place .
Cover of "The raoffer toy" in the Latina publishing house (1926)However, Arlt's particular eccentricity also has a paradoxical side. The raoffer toy , according to Saítta, receives a critical review in a second issue of the cultural supplement of the newspaper Crítica , called Crítica Magazine , in the section "News from the literary world", which responded to editors linked to the martinfierrista avant-garde 8. A space in which more traditional writers and from a generation before Arlt, such as Lugones and Gálvez, were criticized. The critical review praises Arlt's novel and establishes a critical view on the young writers of Boedo's group, who have rejected the publication of this book when Arlt presented it to those responsible for the editions of Babel and Claridad. (Saítta, 2000: 45). In addition to this favorable review, The Raoffer Toy has other commentating comments in the magazine El Hogar , Mundo Argentino and Nosotros 9, on the other hand, in the magazine Claridad, belonging to Boedo's writers, Arlt is mentioned among the narrators that the group questions and considers adverse to the aesthetic postulates of the publication. However, years later, the Claridad publishing house will publish a reissue of this novel in 1931 and the critic Ramón Doll 10 , shortly before, will praise Arlt who has published the second edition of his novel Los Siete Locos (1930) in Claridad .
The Raoffer Toy was published in 1926, a revealing year for Argentine literature, because several very significant books were published, including Los exterrados by Horacio Quiroga, the novel Don Segundo Sombra by Ricardo Güiraldes.
Roberto Arlt dedicates this first novel, The Raoffer Toy , to Ricardo Güiraldes. With this gesture he expresses his gratitude to this writer older than him, who despite his closeness to the martinfierristas and editing the magazine Proa , which he founded in 1924 with Borges and Brandán Caraffa, helps Arlt in the writing and publication of this novel . Güiraldes enjoys a certain prestige as a writer at that time, his social status is that of a rich rancher who has chosen literature and published several books at that time. Despite being seen by his fellow writers as a dandy, who has lived in Paris, is affable and bohemian, which is why he enjoys a certain respect and sympathy in his relationships with other writers. Arlt frequents him and it is Güiraldes who reads the originals of the young narrator and suggests some corrections to that first novel he wrote. He is also the one who advises him to change the title originally chosen by Arlt, La vida puerca , by The Raoffer Toy .
Perhaps between the affinities of that friendship between Arlt and Güiraldes, it could be thought that at the moment they meet, beyond the aesthetic and social class differences, both share a passion for literary creation, and also almost a coincidence that is too «coincidental. »: Both write an initiation novel, that of the orphan reserito Fabio Cáceres in the novel by Güiraldes, and Arlt the childhood and adolescence of Silvio Astier, a poor middle-class inhabitant of the urban area of Buenos Aires. On the other hand, Güiraldes in Don Segundo SombraHe presents the traditional space of the pampas in Argentine literature, but at the same time introduces an affiliation of the ultraist avant-garde in the writing of his novel. It is one of the novels that closes in this original way the world of the rural territory in the Argentine narrative. While Arlt inaugurates with his book a neighborhood urban cartography of the great city of Buenos Aires, and his writing, too, is close to a form of the historical avant-garde, expressionism. And not only that, it also adds an aesthetic exploration of the grotesque that will be present with greater characterization in his later novels and in his plays.
Journalism and literatureCover of «Don Goyo», no. 56 (1926)In January 1926 Roberto Arlt began to collaborate in a stable way in the magazine Don Goyo , of the Haynes publishing house. The director of the publication is his friend Conrado Nalé Roxlo. The magazine follows the model of Caras y Caretas . Arlt's texts are short narratives, written in the first person, with a strong presence of autobiographical elements and somehow come to be something like the antecedents of his famous etchings for the newspaper El Mundo .
Apparently a well-known anecdote of his life, that at the age of eight he wrote a commissioned story, was very decisive in his initiation into literature and in his literary choice. It is known that a neighbor of his neighborhood, Joaquín Costa, almost as a mocking challenge, in one of those meetings in the Flores bookstores told him that if he brought him a story written by him, he would buy it for him if he liked it. Arlt wrote that first story and took it to Joaquín Costa, who, satisfied by the text, paid him five pesos for that story. Ricardo Piglia has pointed out that this relationship of literary creation with money so early marked Arlt a lot in his profile as a writer, since almost all his narrative and journalistic work, especially most of his stories and chronicles or etchings,11 .
In the twenty-two chronicles and stories (his narrator's laboratory, initiation stage as a writer) that he publishes in the term of a year in Don Goyo , his usual irony and a critical vision of real life situations stand out, where he mixes imaginary characters with acquaintances. It is a boom time for photojournalism. Writers such as Eduardo Mallea, Alfonsina Storni, Juan José de Soiza Reilly, Leopoldo Marechal, among others, collaborate in the magazine. The notes published in Don Goyo have been compiled in The Secret Spring and other pages , with a foreword by Guillermo García (Simurg, Buenos Aires, 1996).
Roberto Arlt at the time he was writing police notes in «Critique» (1927)Like other writers of the time, Roberto Arlt entered in 1927 as a chronicler of the police section in the editorial office of the newspaper Crítica . It is known that this newspaper will make the police chronicle one of its main aspects to gain readers. Roberto Arlt will play that new role of journalist-detective and will have an outstanding performance. Sylvia Saítta, quotes a testimony from the same newspaper where she realizes that Arlt manages on one occasion to prevent a suicide. Today, the editor of our newspaper Roberto Arlt and the photographer [...], summoned by a pre-suicide woman, in his apartment on Uruguay Street, prevented her death, disarming her in circumstances in which she intended to shoot herself in the street. temple ( Critic, April 5, 1928).
In 1928 he left the violent chronicles of the Crítica police section and went to the editorial office of the newspaper El Mundo , directed by another writer, Alberto Gerchunoff. But it will be with the second director, Carlos Muzio Sáenz Peña, when Arlt will begin to write the section "Etchings Porteñas" (on August 5 of the same year). He is one of the few journalists who signs the column with his name. The sharpness and imagination of your everyday comments will make you a well-known professional journalist in no time. Apparently Arlt liked that role of writer, detective journalist and traveler, since years later in an introductory note to his Patagonian etchings he describes himself as if he were a fatal adventurervery cinematic or seen in the cinema, as he wears a leather jacket, boots and an automatic pistol . By the way, also a Kodak camera with which you will take photos of the places that you will visit in that traveling adventure 12 .
As we have pointed out, his apprenticeship as a writer is linked to journalism, he writes and gets paid regularly for his work. It is a way of life. Arlt sees himself as a journalist and as a modern writer, an image and a very widespread role in the contemporaneity of his time. When the Second World War began, he wanted to be a war correspondent for El Mundo , but in the end they did not send him. Something very common at the time. Vicente Huidobro became one, since he was in Europe; Roberto Payró and José de Soiza Reilly during the first war.
His etchings deal with the burning issues of the social and political situation of the time. It deals with the problems of the city, the state of the streets and the areas abandoned by the political administration. In 1936 his column reached great popularity when he denounced the deficiencies of the municipal hospitals. Arlt dialogues with his readers, answers their letters and is an interlocutor in his comments every day. He becomes a kind of popular prosecutor; denounces, investigates and gives his opinions in current debates. A series of his etchings comment on the events of the military coup led by General José Félix Uriburu in 1930. In these texts, he exposes political corruption, opportunism and the old vices of "Creole" politics.
In the same newspaper El Mundo , he will write his travel chronicles. From his tours to the north and south of the country, to Uruguay, Brazil and later to Spain and Africa, his impressions of a great observer will remain. The Spanish Etchings are one of the most successful testimonies of this activity as a traveling writer. Axel Gasquet in his book Oriente al Surexpresses that in the chronicles about Morocco and the African territory of Arlt, the writer demolishes the romantic and aesthetic literary paradigms of the vision of that region of the world, that canonical vision that can be observed in the gaze of the texts of writers such as Jorge Max Rohde. On the other hand, Arlt takes a different approach, admires on the one hand that culture of otherness, and on the other, he rehearses a critical reflection of social life in his travel chronicles through those colonial countries. It highlights how its inhabitants are victims of the capitalist colonial system, denounces social inequality, the condition of poverty, labor exploitation and the level of subhumanity in which most of its inhabitants live 13 .
Towards the end of the 1930s, he also wrote chronicles and journalistic commentaries in El Mundo . After having published his notes in a section called Present Times, he goes on to express his concern about the rise of Nazism and the beginning of the Second World War; Since he has not been sent as a correspondent to the European war scene, he does so in a column that ironically calls The Margin of Cable .
Although Arlt complains about not having enough time to write his stories and novels, he owes journalism the possibility of being publicly recognized as a writer. In the 20s and 30s, writers occupy a place of a certain prominence in society that is expressed in the written press. In one of his etchings, Arlt reflects on the conditions of a good journalist and affirms that to be a good journalist it is necessary to be a good writer ("To be a journalist", El Mundo , December 31, 1929).
Arlt novelistCover of the 2nd ed. from "The seven madmen" in the Claridad publishing house (1930)Along with his almost absorbing activity in his journalistic work, Arlt manages to reserve some time to write the novels that will come to be considered the most representative and central of his literary career. In 1929, the first edition of Los seven locos (Editorial Latina) came out, the following year a second edition in Claridad and, in 1931, it released with the title of Los lanzallamas what is, in reality, the second part or the continuation of the crazy seven . In the same year, 1931, the third edition of Los Siete Locos came out in Claridad.
In that brief period he manages to express the most important of his novelistic production and, especially, with The Seven Fools and The Flame Throwers -this long novel in two parts, complex, excessive, hyperbolic- he deepens his critical and skeptical vision of the world, develops the themes of his literature, places his action, as in The Raoffer Toy, in the urban and suburban area of Buenos Aires, the setting in which these characters from the poor middle class of this area are located, and incorporates in a wide and original way their colloquial language and words of the porteño lunfardo. Those main themes are, by the way, insanity, marginalization, humiliation, political conspiracy, betrayal, technical invention, which can not only be found in his novels, but also in his stories, etchings and plays. That is to say, they distinctly cross his entire literary work.
Cover of «Los lanzallamas» in the Claridad publishing house (1931)At this moment, Arlt becomes aware of the recognition of his work as a writer and this situation is probably what prompted him to write in 1931, as a prologue to The Flamethrower , his "Words of the Author." In this text, he answers his detractors who accuse him of writing badly, establishing a difference between his profile as a journalist writer, with little time to write and those who, due to their class situation and economic level, have a lot of time to do so. Almost as a challenge he affirms there his famous words with which he defines his literary poetics:The future is ours, by arrogance of work. We will create our literature, not continually talking about literature, but writing in proud solitude books that contain the violence of a "cross" to the jaw. Yes, book after book, and "let the eunuchs snort . "
To this proclamation in the way that Arlt understands his work as a writer, other texts can be added where he reflects on his literary work. Rose Corral, in a chapter that bears the title of her book on Arlt A Poetics of Dissonance , rescues and analyzes two reflections of this writer on his literature and that of his generation 14 . It is about an interview carried out in 1929 15 and an article, «Young writers of Hispanic America», published in El Mundo, on May 22, 1941. In the first, he expresses his ideas on "national literature and culture," on literary modernity. The criollismo or neocriollismo of some of its members questions the avant-garde martinfierristas in their gaze and rescue of the Argentine literary past. Obviously, one could also think of a questioning of the main referent of that space: Borges's neocriollismo. In the second text, Arlt reviews the concept of modernity, of the new, the possibility of talking about the strength of style . For Rose Corral, Arlt in this article affirmed that tradition must be built or assembled from the present, in 1941, in a broad retrospective look "that rescues" her literary generation without distinction of school or group.. (Corral, 2009: 37).
Other texts of literary reflection are also some Etchings that Arlt publishes in El Mundo dedicated to reflecting on the state of the novel, and in which he also exposes his questions to the narrative that adheres to the aesthetic postulates of traditional realism. Around 1941, several writers objected to the aesthetic presuppositions of the contemporary novel. Arlt agrees with them and contributes to this debate by publishing some articles in El Mundo . The current novel lacks adventures because the professional novelist, although it may seem a paradox, lacks a profession 16, he affirms in one of them. For the writer, a determining factor in the decline of the novel resides in the fact that writers create very static characters and forget that narrative action is fundamental. In this regard, Arlt affirms that without a well-defined action we cannot determine the psychological constant of the character .
In another article, he accuses Marcel Proust of being directly responsible for the contemporary novel becoming a gallery of portraits 17 . In some way, it coincides with what Borges expresses in the prologue to The Invention of Morel (1940), by Adolfo Bioy Casares. Borges rejects the psychological novel and realism and affirms that there are pages and there are chapters of Marcel Proust that are unacceptable as inventions: to which, without knowing it, we resign ourselves as to the insipid and idle of each day . And as Arlt proposes novels with strong arguments.
The author of The Seven Fools challenges what he calls the medianity of realism , clarifying that this is not a genre but a technique that limited itself to describing what was under his nose with pantograph fidelity . While Borges proposes in his fictional project the reasoned imagination of the fantastic, Arlt believes that it is necessary to seek narrative efficacy in the conflicts that the characters must promote, with the same excess that he finds in the behavior of the heroes of the classic novel 18 .
David Viñas, also notices other incursions of the writer in the literary essay and mentions a signed preface by Arlt to a book of poems and a critical comment on another book by the poet Alfonso Ferrari in 1933 19 .
Although Arlt becomes a successful novelist, especially because of the reissues and critical acclaim he receives for The Seven Fools , he does not do so well with The Flamethrowers . Despite the fact that it was reissued a few months after its publication, it did not have a good critical reception. It is probable, as Saítta points out, that in some way his prologue "Words of the author", included in that book, is the cause of some criticisms that respond to him and question his opinions expressed in that text. This arises mainly in the criticism that Lisandro Alonso signs on this book in the magazine Megáfono (No. 10, June 1932).
Cover of the 2nd ed. from «El amor brujo» in the publishing house Rañó (1932)However, at that time Arlt wrote intensely and with some urgency another novel, even announcing it in his edition of The Flame Thrower and, shortly after, making it known. It is his fourth novel and appears with the title with which he had announced it, El amor brujo, in 1932. It only took six months to write it. In its pages is a theme that haunts Arlt: the critique of middle-class bourgeois morals that postulates marriage and virginity as fundamental values of their beliefs. A theme that in parallel in those years have been developed with great irony in several stories told in their etchings. A hated character in other of his stories, that of "the mother-in-law", is going to be a highly reviled figure in this novel. Arlt also alludes in his plot to a problem and concern present in the society of his time, the failure experienced by many progressive sectors of social life regarding the impossibility of passing a law that allows marital divorce. Circumstance that has also caused numerous journalistic reports and debates.
On the other hand, the truth is that after this novel, Arlt became passionate about the theater and began to write several dramatic pieces that will be premiered at the Teatro del Pueblo from 1932. Moreover, he will never publish a novel announced as a continuation of El sorcerer love , entitled The Firebird .
The passion for inventionsArlt's passion for technical invention is a recurring theme in his short stories and novels. Inventions, both in the author's life and in his narrative world, appear as a possible means to get out of economic scarcity and earn money. For example, in The Seven Fools , Erdosain enthuses the Espila family to dedicate themselves to invention:The Espila family agreed to start the experiments, and Elena devoted herself very seriously to studying electroplating, while the deaf man prepared the baths and got practical in this work of joining the ammeter cables in series or tension and handling the resistance. Even the old woman participated in the experiments and no one doubted, when they managed to collect a tin plate, that in a short time they would be enriched if the copper rose did not fail .
In another passage, it is also Erdosain, who speaks to the Espila and tells them that they must make gold lace, silver curtains, copper gauze, and even outlined a project for a metallic tie. [...] We will set up a dog cleaners and sell dogs dyed green, blue, yellow and purple ... You see, I have plenty of ideas ... You are going to get out of this horrible misery .
Within this activity, which he carries out in parallel to his journalistic work and as a writer of stories, Arlt registered, in 1934, the formula (patent No. 42,050) to manufacture stockings in which the points of his mesh would not run. When he travels to Spain in 1935, he tries to promote his project without any positive results: The stockings issue is going well - he writes to his sister Lila-. I had to release it to a lazy chemist I had and make another Englishman work, with whom I will go halfway [...] I take very important samples to Spain 20 .
Years later, he insisted on this invention again and in 1941 he set up a workshop in Lanús. His partner is Pascual Nacaratti, an actor from the Teatro del Pueblo. In a letter to his daughter Mirta, Arlt also refers to his invention that he has patented again (January 12, 1942): ... I am sending you here a piece torn from a stocking treated with my procedure. You will realize that by polishing the rubber [...] the matter is perfect. They will have to wear my socks in winter. There are no trade-offs [...] This average will last for at least one year. Dear Mirtita, rest assured that this will soon be in commercial operation .
Arlt, his stories, biopolitics, animality and the fantasticCover of «Buenos Aires Etching» in the Victoria publishing house (1933)According to David Viñas, Arlt reaches another good moment in his narrative production in 1933, when he brings together nine of his stories already published in magazines and newspapers in his first book of short stories El jorobadito (Editorial Anaconda) and his first selection of Buenos Aires Etchings (Editorial Victory).
Like Horacio Quiroga, the great master of the Rio de la Plata story, Arlt also contributes in those moments to develop the aesthetic possibilities of the short story and to create a tradition so fertile in Argentine literature that Borges, Bioy Casares, Cortázar and Silvina Ocampo will continue, among the classics .
We have noted earlier that Arlt published his first short story as a near-teenager in 1918, which is titled "Jehovah." From then on, until a few days before his death, most of his stories will appear in newspapers, magazines and brochures, such as El Mundo Argentino , El Hogar , El Mundo and La Nación . By the way, in his first book, The Hunchback, brings together some of his best stories and we can find in them all the recurring themes of the Arltean narrative. In which he gives the title to the book, the grotesque and the search for identity. The world of crime and violence in "Las fieras"; love in a neo-romantic version in "Esther Primavera"; the fierce criticism of bourgeois miserability and affective rites and conventions in "Little Landlords" and "Terrible Night."
Some of these stories, such as "The Hunchback" and "The Wild Beasts", are stories that refract the writer's concern for a recurring problem around social marginality, especially in the biopolitical framework on corporeality, crime domains, madness, poverty, the complex sense and in crisis of the conception of the human and animality in the urban area of Buenos Aires, in a context of the political authoritarianism prevailing since the military coup of 1930, the international economic crisis of the beginning of the decade and the disturbance and fear of the rise of Nazism and the imminence of World War II.
Adolfo Prieto is one of the first critics, in the 60s, who noticed the importance of the fantastic in Roberto Arlt. In his interpretation not only stands out its presence in some stories but also considers it a relevant aspect of Arlt's work, in the sense that the supernatural plays hallucinatory counterpoints with the experience of reality and its intrusion into a realistic novelistic contributes to accentuate in the reader a feeling that the world is a phantasmagoria 21 .
Cover of "A terrible trip" in Our Novel (1941)In the book The Hunchback there are two stories that express this tendency of Arlt: "The Red Moon" and "The Ghost Suit." In The Gorilla Breeder, others are added and particularly in his theatrical production the fantastic is fused with the farce and the grotesque. But it is perhaps in one of his last texts, A Terrible Journey , published as a nouvelle in 1941, in which the fantastic narrative strategies reach their best expression, combined with an evident parodic register.
This long story is the result of the merger and reworking of two previous stories «¡SOS! Longitude 145º 30 ', latitude 29º 15' ”and“ It is forofferden to be a fortune teller on this boat ” 22. The supernatural fact is already in the first story and the humorous and satirical plot in the second. It is a boat trip, an ocean liner that leaves the port of Antofagasta and sails across the Pacific. In this journey, called "Terror" in the text, Arlt gathers a series of cartoon characters. It is as if all the themes and obsessions of his literature were here. The characters are typical of Arlt, there are fortune-tellers, astrologers, preachers, swindlers, gamblers, drunkards, fanatics, religious, beautiful and passionate women and none of them are what they appear to be. Thus they form a vision that conceives the world as a confused simulacrum.
The fantastic in "The Red Moon" embodies the imminence of the catastrophe, it is an incredible phenomenon that bursts into the dimension of reality; The same happens with the gigantic eddy that, in the middle of the ocean, begins to suck the ship of the crossing, the Blue Star, and others who are browsing in the area. The fear of such an event puts passengers on the brink of insanity. However, madness, more specifically together with the passion for inventions (the famous rubberized and waterproof fabrics ...), meet in the character of Annie. She is presented with a beauty similar to those of the film divas of the time and at the same time as a chemical engineer. In this character, according to Prieto, Arlt transposes his own obsessions with inventions. But despite being the object of the protagonist narrator's love desire, she also does not escape that world of simulations. The apparent and the real alternate and, like a narrative trap, she is led to believe until the end of the story that she is not mentally ill.
The Great Whirlpool is reminiscent of Edgar Alan Poe's A Descent into the Maelström , although here the strange phenomenon is explained with geological reasons, obviously made up and pseudoscientific. The story also offers a parodic shot, mainly in relation to the adventure narrative and the travel chronicle, since it chooses the latter discursive form to narrate the fabulous events.
As in "The Red Moon", in A Terrible Journey the allegorical intention seems to be overwhelmed by the fantastic and it is through this way that the meaning of the text is imposed. Just as the fantastic allows us to return an inquisitive look to history and can be an alternative way to tell it , as Silvia Molloy affirms, in her essay «Historia y fantasmagoría» (in The fantastic story in Spain and Latin America, Encuentros Collection, Fifth Centennial Edition, Madrid, 1992), it is likely that it is also a literary form capable of representing the latent feeling of the conflicts of an era. Roberto Arlt writes this story a year before his death. In 1941, the rise of the power of Nazism (the year in which the troops of the Third Reich invaded the territory of the USSR ) and the proximity of the Second World War are concrete and threatening events, causing the general sensation of a catastrophe.
The police story, a genre that will have great cultists in twentieth-century Argentine literature, also interested Roberto Arlt. One could mention, as representative of this incursion and interest in the genre, three outstanding fictional texts by Arlt: «The almost perfect crime» ( Mundo Argentino , 5-29-1940), «An Argentine among gangsters» ( El Hogar , 25 -1-1937) and "The mystery of the three overcoats" ( El Hogar , 11-19-1937).
It is interesting to note that Roberto Arlt in the stories of The Gorilla Breeder , as Pampa Arán explains, combines in his elliptical construction the fantastic and the police according to the type of causality that explains "the crime and the punishment", the moral of the victim and that of the perpetrator . In addition, with the mixture of these genres, Arlt produces a displacement of the fantasy canon in a new dimension that exacerbates the search for the limit of passions and cultural "otherness" 23 .
Arlt and the theaterRoberto Arlt behind the scenes (1940)In 1931 Leónidas Barletta founded the Teatro del Pueblo and summoned several writers of the time to participate in the project. Among those called up are also Roberto Arlt, Álvaro Yunque, Nicolás Olivari and Ezequiel Martínez Estrada. Arlt then prepares the theatrical adaptation of The Humiliated , a fragment of The Seven Fools . A year later, on March 3, it opens at the Teatro del Pueblo, which operates at 465 Corrientes Street, this adaptation will be Roberto Arlt's first play. Then will come his most memorable plays: 300 million , premiered at the Teatro del Pueblo, on June 17, 1932; Saverio el cruel , at the Teatro del Pueblo, on September 4, 1936;The manufacturer of ghosts , Company of Milagros de la Vega and Carlos Pirelli, October 8, 1936; The deserted island , People's Theater, December 30, 1937. Africa , People's Theater, March 17, 1938; The Iron Festival, Teatro del Pueblo, March 18, 1940.
Parallel to his initiation as a playwright, Arlt began in 1933 to publish criticisms of various theatrical productions in the Vida Teatral section of the newspaper El Mundo . Appealing to fiction, he chooses the critical point of view of what he calls the man in the street : Someday it had to happen. I have become the man in the street who passes a theater and, attracted by the titles of the posters, stops for a moment. Then he enters, reclines in an armchair and when the curtain rises [...] all he wants is to perceive with complete clarity the mysterious life that the author is going to give him in the characters ... (Roberto Arlt, «La companion of Sirius », The World, April 2, 1933, quoted by Sylvia Saítta, in The Writer in the Brick Forest ).
After his death, among others, the following staging of his theatrical works and / or adaptations of his narrative texts were staged 24 : The desert enters the city , El Duende Theater, November 5, 1953; Test of love , in La Casa del Teatro, in 1947; El amor brujo , adapted by Luis Ordaz and staged by Sergio Renán, October 1971; The seven madmen , at the Teatro del Picadero, directed by Rubens Correa, 1980; Saverio el cruel , Teatro Cervantes, directed by Roberto Villanueva, 1988; La fiesta del Hierro , Teatro Andamio 90, directed by Rubens Correa, 1994; For the love of Arlt, Presidente Alvear Municipal Theater, directed by Ismael Hase, 1995. On the other hand, Arlt's theater has been studied by critics and the history of Argentine theater. In the activity of contemporary dramaturgy in Argentina, Arlt's theatrical work continues to be an important reference 25 .
The fascination for cinemaRoberto Arlt, like Horacio Quiroga and other writers of the time, was fascinated by the cinema. In his narrative work there are numerous passages that allude to the forms of representation of the cinematographic image and also to some of the stars of Hollywood. For example, in The Flamethrowers , the fantasies of the character Barsut around the figure of Greta Garbo or in El amor brujo the story of a lover of Rodolfo Valentino. Nor was the theme of cinema absent in his famous Buenos Aires Etchings , in many references and comparisons with films of the time in his Spanish and African etchings, in the stories of El criador de gorilas (1941) and, especially, in his attempts at criticism. cinema in sectionShows of the newspaper El Mundo around 1936. His writings on the seventh art have been compiled in Notes on the cinema , with a foreword by Jorge B. Rivera, by Simurg publishing house, in 1997.
On the other hand, his stories, novels and plays have attracted great interest among Argentine filmmakers. There are numerous films and telefilms made about Arlt and his work. To mention a few, among the best known transpositions we find 300 million , by Simón Feldman; Terrible night , on the homonymous story, by Rodolfo Kuhn, 1967; The seven madmen by Leopoldo Torre Nilsson, 1973; Saverio el cruel by Ricardo Wullicher, 1977; The raoffer toy by José María Paolantonio, 1984; Love Test, by Laura Bro, 1972. One of the most recent transpositions for the television format is the miniseries that during 2015 was made by Argentine Public TV , the state channel, based on The Seven Fools and The Flame Throwers , with the script by the writer Ricardo Piglia. Regarding the studies on the narrative of Arlt and the cinema, it is recommended to consult the book Arlt goes to the cinema by Patricio Fontana (Buenos Aires, Libraria, 2009) and the essay "Roberto Arlt y el cine" by Rita Gnutzmann ( Cuadernos Hispanoamericanos , No. 651-652, 2004, pp. 171-182).
No human being can obviously foresee the length of his life. A writer, of course, is a participant in such a condition. Arlt, unfortunately, only managed to live to be 42 years old, however he left an immense narrative work, an unforgettable fictional world, a literary poetics that became embedded as a renovating paradigm in twentieth-century Argentine literature.
Last photograph of Roberto Arlt (1942)As David Viñas came to speculate imaginatively, in the postface to the edition of the Complete Stories(2002) by Roberto Arlt, the writer in the years prior to his death, in the splendor of his critical and public recognition, could have gathered in other books the numerous stories published in newspapers and magazines and have assembled many others with the immense quantity of his etchings and the texts that had appeared in those graphic media. However, death came without warning at dawn on Sunday, July 26, 1942, in bed with his wife. He went from sleep, which he feared so much, since many times he could not sleep without a light on, to eternal sleep. His last day had been as routine as any other day. At sunset, after writing his last etching, he left the newspaper El Mundo, attended a play at the Teatro del Pueblo, went on to vote in the elections of the Círculo de la Prensa, before returning home. The next day, already in perpetual sleep, he would not be able to read his latest text, the one that would appear published in the newspaper he had worked for so many years, almost like an irony with the foreboding title "Landscape in the clouds."
Carlos Dámaso MartínezWriter, Doctor of Letters and university professor(Critic of Arts - National University of the Arts, Buenos Aires, Argentina)
1. Sylvia Saítta, The Writer in a Brick Forest. A biography of Roberto Arlt , Buenos Aires, Sudamericana, 2000.
2. Sylvia Saítta in her book points out that it was published by Arlt under the name of Roberto Godofredo Arlt in The Occult Sciences in the City of Buenos Aires , Free Tribune , No. 63 (January 28, 1920).
3. Roberto Arlt, «Prologue» to Los lanzallamas , «Words of the author», Buenos Aires, Claridad, 1931.
4. Beatriz Sarlo, Technical imagination: dreams of Argentine culture , Buenos Aires, Nueva Visión, 1992, pp. 9-11.
5. José Amícola, «From the pig life to The raoffer toy », in In writing , Buenos Aires, San Martín Cultural Center, No. 1, July 1985.
6. Contorno Magazine , address: Ismael Viñas and David Viñas, Buenos Aires, 1950-1953. Facsimile edition, Buenos Aires, National Library of the Argentine Republic, 2007.
7. Jacques Rancière in his book Poetics of Literature , Buenos Aires, Ediciones del Zorzal, 2011.
8. Critic Magazine , No. 2 (November 22, 1926).
9. Carlos Pirán, "Leafing through the last books," Mundo Argentino , No. 830 (December 15, 1926). And Leonidas Barletta, " The mad toy ", We , no. 211 (December 1926).
10. Ramón Doll, "The literary production of 1926", Claridad , No. 198 (January 11, 1930).
11. Ricardo Piglia, "Roberto Arlt: a critique of the literary economy", Los Libros , Buenos Aires, no. 29 (March-April 1973).
12. See Roberto Arlt, Patagonian Etchings , selection and prologue by Sylvia Saítta, Buenos Aires, 800 coups editora, 2014.
13. Axel Gasquet, "The Moorish and African fiction of Roberto Arlt", in Oriente al Sur. The Argentine literary orientalism from Esteban Echeverría to Roberto Arlt , Buenos Aires, Eudeba, 2007.
14. Rose Corral, Roberto Arlt: A poetics of dissonance , Mexico, El Colegio de México, 2009.
15. Interview published in Argentine literature. Bibliographic Magazine , Buenos Aires, No. 12 (August 1929), pp. 25-27.
16. "Adventure without a novel and a novel without an adventure", El Mundo (August 13, 1941).
17. "Confusions about the novel", El Mundo (August 22, 1941).
18. "Gallery of portraits", El Mundo (September 16, 1941). Other articles published in the same newspaper where he reiterates these opinions are: "Irresponsibility of the subjective novelist" (October 2, 1941); "Action, limit of the human and the divine" (October 7, 1941); "Literature without heroes" (October 13, 1941).
19. David Viñas, "Between Hunchbacks and Gorillas", in "Postface" to Complete Tales by Roberto Arlt, Buenos Aires, Losada, 2002.
20. Omar Borré, Arlt and critics. (1926-1990) , Buenos Aires, Ediciones América Libre, 1996.
21. Adolfo Prieto, «The fantasy and the fantastic in Roberto Arlt», in Argentine Literature Studies , Buenos Aires, Galerna, 1969.
22. «SOS! Longitude 145º 30 ', latitude 29º 15' "was published in El Hogar (January 21, 1937), and" Forofferden to be a fortune teller on this boat ", El Mundo (September 27, 1939).
23. Pampa Olga Arán, "The Fantastic in Roberto Arlt's Gorilla Breeder ", Literary and Linguistic Signs , vol. 11, No. 2 (December 2000), pp. 99-109.
24. Consult the hyperlink «Alternative theater» on this Portal in the Links section .
25. Consult in this Portal the Catalog of critical studies.
Roberto Arlt (Buenos Aires, April 26, 1900 - Buenos Aires, July 26, 1942) was an Argentine novelist, storyteller, playwright, journalist and inventor.Contents1 Biography2 References3 Novels4 Plays5 Short story collections6 Journalism7 External linksBiographyHe was born Roberto Godofredo Christophersen Arlt in Buenos Aires on April 26, 1900. His parents were both immigrants.
His father, Karl Arlt, was from Posen (now Poznań in present-day Poland) and his mother was Ekatherine Iobstraibitzer, a native of Trieste and Italian speaking. German was the language commonly used at their home. His relationship with his father was stressful, as Karl Arlt was a very severe and austere man, by Arlt's own account. The memory of his oppressive father would appear in several of his writings. For example, Remo Erdosain (a character at least partially based on Arlt's own life) often recalls his abusive father and how little if any support he would give him. After being expelled from school at the age of eight, Arlt became an autodidact and worked at all sorts of different odd jobs before landing a job on at a local newspaper: as clerk at a bookstore, apprentice to a tinsmith, painter, mechanic, welder, manager in a brick factory, and dock worker.
His first novel, El juguete rabioso (1926) ("Mad Toy"), was the semi-autobiographical story of Silvio, a dropout who goes through a series of adventures trying to be "somebody." Narrated by Silvio's older self, the novel reflects the energy and chaos of the early 20th century in Buenos Aires. The narrator's literary and sometimes poetic language contrasts sharply with the street-level slang of Mad Toy's many colorful characters.
Arlt's second novel, the popular Los siete locos (The Seven Madmen) was rough, brutal, colloquial and surreal, a complete break from the polite, middle-class literature more typical of Argentine literature. Los lanzallamas (The Flame-Throwers) was the sequel, and these two novels together are thought by many to be his greatest work. What followed were a series of short stories and plays in which Arlt pursued his vision of bizarre, half-mad, alienated characters pursuing insane quests in a landscape of urban chaos. In 1932 he published El amor brujo.
During his lifetime, however, Arlt was best known for his "Aguafuertes" ("Etchings"), the result of his contributions as a columnist - between 1928 and 1942 - to the Buenos Aires daily "El Mundo". Arlt used these columns to comment, in his characteristically forthright and unpretentious style, on the peculiarities, hypocrisies, strangeness and beauty of everyday life in Argentina's capital. These articles included occasional exposés of public institutions, such as the juvenile justice system ("Escuela primaria de delincuencia", 26–29 September 1932) or the Public Health System. Some of the "Aguafuertes" were collected in two volumes under the titles Secretos femeninos. Aguafuertes inéditas and Tratado de delincuencia. Aguafuertes inéditas which were edited by Sergio Olguín and published by Ediciones 12 and Página/12 in 1996.
Between March and May 1930, Arlt wrote a series of "Aguafuertes" as a correspondent to "El Mundo" in Rio de Janeiro. In 1935 he spent nearly a year writing as he traveled throughout Spain and North Africa, on the eve of the Spanish Civil War. At the time of his death, Arlt was hoping to be sent to the United States as a correspondent.
Worn out and exhausted after a lifetime of hardships, he died from a stroke on July 26, 1942. His coffin was lowered from his apartment by an operated crane, an ironic end, considering his bizarre stories.
Arlt has been massively influential on Latin American literature, including the 1960s "Boom" generation of writers such as Gabriel García Márquez. "Let's say, modestly, that Arlt is Jesus Christ," propounded Roberto Bolaño. Analogues in English literature are those who avoid literary 'respectability' by writing about the poor, the criminal and the mad: writers like William Burroughs, Iceberg Slim, and Irvine Welsh. Arlt, however, predated all of them. He is widely considered to be one of the founders of the modern Argentine novel; among those contemporary writers who claim to have been influenced by Arlt are Abelardo Castillo, Ricardo Piglia and César Aira. At least two Argentine movies were based on his novels, Los siete locos (1974) and El juguete rabioso (1985). Peter Damian Bellis, editor of the independent press River Boat Books of Minneapolis, became resolved to make Los siete locos and Los lanzallamas available together in English translation. Although a plan to publish the two closely linked novels in the same volume proved unfeasible, The Seven Madmen and The Flamethrowers, respectively translated by Naomi Lindstrom and Larry Riley, appeared simultaneously in July 2018.
References"The Seven Madmen". New York Review Books. Retrieved 2015-12-16.Aynesworth, Michele Mckay. Mad Toy, a translation of Roberto Arlt's El juguete rabioso, with Introduction and Notes. Duke UP, 2002. ISBN 0-8223-2940-9.
NovelsEl diario de un morfinómano (1920) (Diary of a Morphimaniac) - (lost)El juguete rabioso (1926) (Mad Toy)Los siete locos (1929) (Seven Madmen)Los lanzallamas (1931) (The Flame-Throwers)El amor brujo (1932) (Bewitching Love)PlaysEl humillado (1930)30000 millones (1932)Prueba de amor (1932)Escenas de un grotesco (1934)Saverio el Cruel (1936)El fabricante de fantasmas (1936)La isla desierta (1937)Separación feroz (1938)África (1938)La fiesta del hierro (1940)El desierto entra a la ciudad (1952) (posthumous)La cabeza separada de mi tronco padreeeee (1964) (posthumous)El amor brujo (1971) (posthumous)Short story collectionsEl jorobadito (1933) (The Little Hunchback)El criador de gorilas (1941) (The Gorilla Handler)JournalismAguafuertes porteñas (1933) (Etchings from Buenos Aires)Aguafuertes españolas (1936) (Etchings from Spain)Nuevas aguafuertes españolas (1960) (New Etchings from Spain)Secretos femeninos. Aguafuertes inéditas (1996) (Female Secrets. Unpublished Etchings)Tratado de delincuencia. Aguafuertes inéditas (1996) (Treatise on Delinquency. Unpublished Etchings)
Roberto Arlt(Buenos Aires, 1900 - 1942) Argentine writer and journalist, one of the most unique figures in River Plate literature. Self-taught, a reader of Nietzsche and the great Russian narrative ( Dostoevsky , Gorky ) and linked at the beginning of the twenties with the progressive and didactic Boedo Group, he is considered the introducer of the modern novel in his country, although his recognition it did not reach him until the fifties.Roberto Arlt
The Boedo Group took its name from a street in the proletarian suburbs of Buenos Aires. In opposition to the more formal aesthetic tendencies of the Florida Group, in which first Ricardo Güiraldes and later Jorge Luis Borges played a decisive role , the Boedo Group constituted a literary current committed to criticizing society, being decisive for its artistic conception the influence of Dostoevsky, both in the choice of subjects and in the vision of the world, especially in the conception of man's destiny.
Roberto Arlt grew up in a humble immigrant family: his father was German and his mother, an imaginative and sensitive Triestina, recited verses from Dante and Torquato Tasso to him . He left home when he was a teenager because of disputes with his father. He attended elementary studies, but he frequented the neighborhood libraries, where he began disorderly in the reading of Rudyard Kipling , Emilio Salgari , Jules Verne , RL Stevenson and Joseph Conrad , among others, at the same time that he carried out various trades: bookstore clerk, apprentice tinsmith, mechanic and seller of sundries.
Once married, he moved to Córdoba, but the failure in his attempt to improve the economic situation forced him to return with his family to Buenos Aires: he brought with him the manuscript of The Raoffer Toy . In the capital he worked as a journalist and inventor. In the Popular Magazine he published his first story, Jehovah , which was followed by an essay, The Occult Sciences in the City of Buenos Aires . Then he collaborated in Patria, a right-wing nationalist newspaper, but two years later he went to publications of the opposite sign such as Extrema Izquierda and Ultima Hora. After several attempts, he managed to publish two chapters of his novel The Raoffer Toy (1926) in the Proa magazine , which would come to be considered a milestone in Argentine literature.
Journalism was, for Arlt, the main means of subsistence. In 1927 he was already a police chronicler in Crítica and a year later he became editor of the newspaper El Mundo. His stories The Hunchback and Little Owners appeared there . His column Aguafuertes porteñas (1933), in which he cast an incisive look at the city and its inhabitants, gave him great popularity: they were texts full of irony and sharpness, portraits of types and characters typical of Buenos Aires society. He published articles, stories and novel advances from the pages of Claridad, El Hogar, Azul and Bandera Roja magazines. The result of his work as a correspondent in Europe and Africa are Spanish Etchings (1936) and The Gorilla Breeder (1941), tales of "oriental" theme.
For many, his most finished work is The Seven Fools (1929), a disturbing novel about the impotence of man in the face of society that oppresses him and condemns him to betray his ideals. Arlt's novels also include The Flamethrowers (1931) and El amor brujo (1932). The collection of short stories The Hunchback (1933) reiterates the theme of his novels: the anguish, humiliation and hypocrisy of bourgeois society.Roberto Arlt
Arlt starred in an attempt to renew the Argentine theater through Three hundred million (1932), which was followed by seven other dramatic pieces, Piedra de fuego (1932), Saverio el cruel , El maker de fantasmas (1936), La isla desierta ( 1937), Africa (1938), The Iron Festival (1940) and The Desert Enters the City (1941), almost all presented at the People's Theater directed by Leónidas Barletta .
Although it met with success and was widely read, the academic sectors criticized its syntactic inaccuracies. At the end of the fifties his work began to be claimed as one of the greatest achievements of Argentine literature. The Arltlian style is characterized by cut or unstructured phrases and by the incorporation of jargon and barbarism. His work reflects the frustration of the urban popular classes during the crisis that culminated in 1930: his characters are often marginalized who go through extreme situations; the everyday world of the big city appears linked to a rarefied, sordid and even fantastic universe.
The narrative work of Roberto Arlt
Arlt was never interested in staying within "good taste", nor was he deprived of using any tool available to his writing that was effective in portraying reality in a stark way; for this reason some of his books caused a stir and scandal. The "sloppiness" of his writing, the "spelling errors" that were attributed to him, are reduced to mere anecdotal details when evaluating a work that occupies an essential place in twentieth-century Argentine literature, precisely by the force of a style and arguments alien to any aesthetic will, characteristic of other dominant currents in national literature. In the prologue to The Flamethrowers(which is usually considered as an essential and definitive manifestation of his ideas about literary work), Roberto Arlt defends his role as a creator against the establishment , while harshly criticizing the system of cultural recognition and promotion of the time.
Arlt's work has been seen as a confluence space for the most significant discourses of his time: from the socialist and anarchist utopias of the first decades of the 20th century to the subsequent irruption of totalitarian projects (especially Nazism and fascism. ), as well as a wide repertoire of knowledge related to the occult sciences. In his novel The Seven Fools , this last aspect is evidenced with greater force, through the dreams and fantasies that incarnate in his characters and that are linked to an entire occult iconography.
In almost all of his works, the author presents characters (most of the time declassified, marginal, humiliated) who face, in a notorious situation of disadvantage, with the perverse laws of bourgeois society. Theft, betrayal, or deception are the thematic concerns around which the fate of Arlt's characters revolves. Arlt portrayed with exasperated realism the Buenos Aires petty bourgeoisie, immigrants without roots and beings bordering on marginalization. His first novel, The Raoffer Toy (1926), with abundant elements of autobiographical inspiration, recounts the difficult initiation into the life of Silvio Astier, a dreamer adolescent of humble origin whose failures lead him to an affirmation of rebellion and delinquency.
This work was followed by the narrative diptych formed by The Seven Fools (1929) and The Flame Throwers(1931). If in his first novel there was still something similar to a structure and the writing was subjected to certain literary conventions, in these two new novels the author acts with total freedom (sometimes, for example, it is not known who narrates) and manages to give the right nightmare tone that suits your subject. An antihero, Erdosain, accused of embezzlement and abandoned by his wife, is associated with the Astrologer, an unusual character who controls the social underworld and who hatches a conspiracy to end capitalist society and save humanity. The challenge to society fails and, trapped in the fallacy of an unrealizable revolution, the characters are lost in their loneliness and die or disappear.
Arlt renovated the theater in his country with originality. He began on the scene in 1932 with Three hundred million , "a work in a prologue and three acts", which would be followed by seven other dramatic pieces. Three hundred million is about a maid, seduced by the son of the house, whose sad existence is only bearable thanks to the characters from the serial and fairy tales that populate her mind. The mixture of imagination and reality is also perceived in The Ghost Maker (1936), about a playwright who murders his wife and reproduces the crime in his plays until finally executing the sentence himself. In Saverio the Cruel (1936), fantasy degenerates into madness and death because the characters fail to make their respective dreams coincide.
The whole of Arlt's dramatic work is characterized by its fantastic and farcical essence, although with tragic outcomes. On the other hand, and as in his narrative, a background of social criticism is always visible. His characters embody the projection of wishes, experiences, frustrations, scruples of conscience or remorse, within an aesthetic that brings Arlt's theatrical works closer to trends such as "theater within theater", "mirror theater" and grotesque theater.
If in his narrative anxiety appears as a recurring motivation, in Arlt's theater the equivalent would be "daydreaming". But these dreams are faced with harsh reality and abruptly fade. Hence, one of the supports that most predominates in his theatrical proposal is that of the unforeseen, which bursts in the middle of the dream, violently reinstalling the character in reality. These works, written during the last ten years of the author's life, were released in some cases posthumously and were widely represented during the following decades.