Argentine literature is somewhat of an outlier among the major productions of Latin America, having its roots neither in the culture associated with the great Spanish and Portuguese empire viceroyalties (centered in Mexico City, Lima, Bogotá, Havana, and Rio de Janeiro) nor in multifaceted contacts with indigenous cultures, some of them empires in their own right (Mexico, Peru). Indeed, most Latin American literatures have eventually had to come to terms with indigenous influences. And while this is also true of Argentina, there is not the historical depth associated with dominant traditions such as Mexico and Peru or with peripheral ones such as Paraguay or the Central American republics. Also, while most Latin American national literatures are associated with the centripetal force of their political and administrative capitals, Buenos Aires has always been a paradigm of the almost absolute dominance of its major population center. Argentina’s rupture with its colonial past, of which only a thin record in terms of literary culture exists, will be fundamentally driven by the need to look toward Europe, especially France and England, and the imperative to pursue a project of modernity that will lead it to becoming, in the 19th century, the preeminent economy of Latin America. One of the most impactful dimensions of the preeminence Buenos Aires gains from the late 19th century going forward is the consequence of its policies of immigration. Although immigrants have a multitude of origins, there is nothing quite like the Italian and Jewish diaspora that settled in the city and areas extending up the Río de la Plata system. Argentina is rightly called “the second homeland of the Italians,” and it is recognized as having the largest (mostly urban) Jewish population in Latin America and one of the largest in the world. Spaniards also represented a significant immigrant stream around the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. Finally, Argentina has always been profoundly divided along two interacting axes. One has been the struggle over the national character as defined by its great port city, Buenos Aires, and the hegemony of Buenos Aires is contested by interests distributed elsewhere in the country—in opposition to the tendency to equate Buenos Aires with Argentina. The other axis is somewhat more complicated: the opposition between elite culture and popular culture. Since the return of democracy in 1983, alternative sociocultural ideologies have done much to democratize Argentine culture. In the final analysis, the most important observation that one can make is that Argentine literature in the 21st century plays a central role in conversations about Argentine society and about the individual and collective national experience.
The enormous diversity of Argentine literature has generated a wide area of foundational studies. While not a scholarly work, Abós 2005 provides a useful guide to writers’ houses and haunts in Buenos Aires. Espinoza 1974 intervenes in the debate over standards for the Spanish language in literature and other prestige contexts. Prieto 1966 examines explicit autobiographical writing, and Prieto 1968 takes up the concept of literary underdevelopment. Rojas 1917–1922 is the premier work because it corresponded to projects in the West in the first half of the 20th century that promoted national literatures over the previously dominant classical traditions of letters. Jitrik 1999– is an ongoing collection that stands as the most important project since Rojas’s, and it is significantly a project of collective voices representing a culture of democratic difference as opposed to the univocalness of Rojas’s history. Foster 1982 registers the sweep of published research on Argentine literature. Orgambide and Yahni 1970 is the only comprehensive encyclopedia of Argentine literature. Fernández Moreno 1967 provides a detailed survey of Argentine poetry. The figure of crime as an organizing motif is treated by Ludmer 2004.
Abós, Álvaro. Al pie de la letra: guía literaria de Buenos Aires. Buenos Aires: Grijalbo, 2005.
A literary guide to haunts, places, and residences of writers in Buenos Aires.
Espinoza, Enrique. El castellano y el babel (replica a Babel y el castellano de Arturo Capdevila). Buenos Aires: Ediciones del Regreso, 1974.
In 1928 Arturo Capdevila brought together in book form journalistic essays deploring the evolution of Spanish away from academic norms; he called the result “babel.” Espinoza replies to defend the evolution of a dynamic and distinctive national literary dialect in Argentina that has now prevailed, despite abiding defenders of Capdevila academicism. This is a debate of particular interest to Jorge Luis Borges, who can mostly be identified with Espinoza despite his animosity to cultural nationalism.
Fernández Moreno, César. La realidad y los papeles: panorama y muestra de la poesía argentina contemporánea. Madrid: Aguilar, 1967.
Although woefully out of date, this is the only comprehensive and detailed history of modern Argentine poetry.
Foster, David William, ed. Argentine Literature: A Research Guide. 2d ed. New York: Garland, 1982.
A classified listing of published research on thirty categories of topics in Argentine literature is followed by registries of scholarship on seventy-three key authors. Although now woefully out of date, it is a standard reference work.
Jitrik, Noé, ed. Historia critica de la literatura argentina. Buenos Aires: Emecé Editores, 1999–.
Consisting of monographic volumes prepared by diverse scholars, this history is the most ambitious project to date for a critical assessment of Argentine literature. Each volume is an authoritative interpretation of the specified monographic topic, with good name indexes. Unfortunately, the coverage of secondary criticism mostly excludes non-Argentine sources, thereby silencing extensive Anglo-American research on Argentine literature.
Ludmer, Josefina. The Corpus Delicti: A Manual of Argentine Fictions. Translated by Glen S. Close. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2004.
The discursive construction of crime and its ideological interpretations in Argentine fiction is analyzed.
Orgambide, Pedro, and Roberto Yahni, eds. Enciclopedia de la literatura argentina. Buenos Aires: Editorial Sudamericana, 1970.
Although now in need of updating, this registry of authors, works, and movements is considered a standard reference work and the only compilation of its kind.
Prieto, Adolfo. La literatura autobiográfica argentina. Buenos Aires: Editorial Jorge Álvarez, 1966.
Provides a useful survey of autobiographies and narratives based on autobiographical references.
Prieto, Adolfo. Literatura y subdesarrollo. Buenos Aires: Editorial Biblioteca, 1968.
Joining Noé Jitrik and David Viñas, along with other writers associated with the review Contorno (see Katra 1988, ), Prieto provides a sociopolitical critique of Argentine literature in terms of its underdevelopment vis-à-vis western European writing as a consequence of supine dependency on the models of the latter.
Rojas, Ricardo. Historia de la literatura argentina: ensayo filosófico sobre la evolución de la cultura en el Plata. Buenos Aires: Editorial Losada, 1917–1922.
The first attempt at a comprehensive history of Argentine literature, grounded in cultural nationalism. There are multiple subsequent editions.
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.
- Agricultural Technologies
- Ancient Andean Textiles
- Andean Contributions to Rethinking the State and the Natio...
- Antislavery Narratives
- Arab Diaspora in Latin America, The
- Argentina in the Era of Mass Immigration
- Argentina, Slavery in
- Argentine Literature
- Army of Chile in the 19th Century
- Asian Art and Its Impact in the Americas, 1565–1840
- Asian-Peruvian Literature
- Atlantic Creoles
- Baroque and Neo-baroque Literary Tradition
- Bello, Andrés
- Black Experience in Colonial Latin America, The
- Black Experience in Modern Latin America, The
- Borderlands in Latin America, Conquest of
- Bourbon Reforms, The
- Brazilian Northeast, History of the
- Buenos Aires
- Caribbean Philosophical Association, The
- Caribbean, The Archaeology of the
- Cartagena de Indias
- Caste War of Yucatán, The
- Caudillos, 19th Century
- Cádiz Constitution and Liberalism, The
- Chaco War
- Children, History of
- Chile's Struggle for Independence
- Chronicle, The
- Church in Colonial Latin America, The
- Chávez, Hugo, and the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela
- Cinema, Contemporary Brazilian
- Cinema, Latin American
- Colonial Central America
- Colonial New Granada
- Colonial Portuguese Amazon Region, from the 17th to 18th C...
- Contemporary Maya, The
- Costa Rica
- Cárdenas and Cardenismo
- Cuban Revolution, The
- Dependency Theory in Latin American History
- Development of Architecture in New Spain, 1500–1810, The
- Development of Painting in Peru, 1520–1820, The
- Drug Trades in Latin America
- Dutch in South America and the Caribbean, The
- Early Colonial Forms of Native Expression in Mexico and Pe...
- Economies from Independence to Industrialization
- Ecuador, La Generación del 30 in
- El Salvador
- Enlightenment and its Visual Manifestations in Spanish Ame...
- Environmental History
- Era of Porfirio Díaz, 1876–1911, The
- Family History
- Film, Science Fiction
- Football (Soccer) in Latin America
- Gaucho Literature
- Gender in Colonial Brazil
- Gender in Postcolonial Latin America
- Guatemala and Yucatan, Conquest of
- Guatemala City
- Guatemala (Colonial Period)
- Guatemala (Modern & National Period)
- Haitian Revolution, The
- Health and Disease in Modern Latin America, History of
- History, Cultural
- History, Food
- Honor in Latin America to 1900
- Horror in Literature and Film in Latin America
- Human Rights in Latin America
- Immigration in Latin America
- Indigenous Elites in the Colonial Andes
- Indigenous Population and Justice System in Central Mexico...
- Indigenous Voices in Literature
- Japanese Presence in Latin America
- Jewish Presence in Latin America, The
- Las Casas, Bartolomé de
- Latin American Independence
- Latin American Urbanism, 1850-1950
- Law and Society in Latin America since 1800
- Legal History of New Spain, 16th-17th Centuries
- Legal History of the State and Church in 18th Century New ...
- Literature, Argentinian
- Machado de Assis
- Magical Realism
- Maroon Societies in Latin America
- Martí, José, and Cuba
- Mestizaje and the Legacy of José María Arguedas
- Mexican Nationalism
- Mexican Revolution, 1910–1940, The
- Mexican-US Relations
- Mexico, Conquest of
- Mexico, Education in
- Migration to the United States
- Military and Modern Latin America, The
- Military Government in Latin America, 1959–1990
- Military Institution in Colonial Latin America, The
- Modern Decorative Arts and Design, 1900–2000
- Modern Populism in Latin America
- Modernity and Decoloniality
- Musical Tradition in Latin America, The
- Native Presence in Postconquest Central Peru
- New Conquest History and the New Philology in Colonial Mes...
- New Left in Latin America, The
- Novel, Chronology of the Venezuelan
- Novel of the Mexican Revolution, The
- Novel, 19th Century Haitian
- Novel, The Colombian
- Oaxaca, Conquest and Colonial
- Painting in New Spain, 1521–1820
- Paraguayan War (War of the Triple Alliance)
- Pastoralism in the Andes
- Paz, Octavio
- Perón and Peronism
- Peru, Colonial
- Peru, Conquest of
- Peru, Slavery in
- Philippines Under Spanish Rule, 1571-1898
- Photography in the History of Race and Nation
- Political Exile in Latin America
- Popular Culture and Globalization
- Popular Movements in 19th-Century Latin America
- Post Conquest Aztecs
- Post-Conquest Demographic Collapse
- Poverty in Latin America
- Preconquest Incas
- Pre-conquest Mesoamerican States, The
- Pre-Revolutionary Mexico, State and Nation Formation in
- Printing and the Book
- Prints and the Circulation of Colonial Images
- Protestantism in Latin America
- Religions in Latin America
- Revolution and Reaction in Central America
- Rosas, Juan Manuel de
- Sandinista Revolution and the FSLN, The
- Santo Domingo
- Science and Empire in the Iberian Atlantic
- Sexualities in Latin America and the Caribbean
- Slavery in Brazil
- São Paulo
- Spanish and Portuguese Trade, 1500–1750
- Spanish Caribbean In The Colonial Period, The
- Spanish Colonial Decorative Arts, 1500-1825
- Spanish Florida
- Telenovelas and Melodrama in Latin America
- Textile Traditions of the Andes
- 16th-Century New Spain
- Transculturation and Literature
- Trujillo, Rafael
- Tupac Amaru Rebellion, The
- United States and Castro's Cuba in the Cold War, The
- United States and the Guatemalan Revolution, The
- United States Invasion of the Dominican Republic, 1961–196...
- Urban History
- Urbanization in the 20th Century, Latin America’s
- U.S.-Latin American Relations During the Cold War
- Vargas, Getúlio
- Venezuelan Literature
- Women and Labor in 20th-Century Latin America
- Women in Colonial Latin American History
- Women in Modern Latin American History
- Zapatista Rebellion in Chiapas