Armonía Somers

Armonía Somers

Armonía Somers Armonía Somers[10†]

Armonía Somers, born Armonía Liropeya Etchepare Locino in 1914, was a prominent Uruguayan feminist, pedagogue, and writer known for her transgressive style. A member of the Generación del 45, she often wrote under the pseudonyms Armonía Somer or Armonía Etchepare de Henestrosa. Her first novel, "La mujer desnuda" (1950), was controversial for its erotic content. Somers' work, aligned more with the "Generation of Crisis" and "imaginative literature," significantly influenced feminist and social literature. She continued to impact literature and pedagogy until her death in 1994[1†][2†].

Early Years and Education

Armonía Somers was born as Armonía Liropeya Etchepare Locino on October 7, 1914, in Pando, Uruguay[1†]. She was the eldest of three daughters born to María Judith Locino, a deeply religious woman, and Pedro Etchepare, an anarchist businessman[1†].

Somers’ basic studies occurred in a Spanish primary school in Pando, where she was the only girl admitted[1†]. After that, she continued her studies at the Normal School of Montevideo[1†].

In 1933, she finished her university studies in pedagogy at the University of the Republic[1†]. It was during this time that she became interested in the teaching of young people. She taught in different schools after that and so became aware of the problems facing different social environments[1†]. This experience eventually led her to publish essays such as “Educación en la adolescencia” (1957), which won the Departmental Council of Montevideo[1†]. Other works related to the topic were “El adolescente de novela y su valor de testimonio” and "Ann Sullivan Macy, la forja en noche plena"[1†].

Career Development and Achievements

Armonía Somers began her career in education after completing her university studies in pedagogy at the University of the Republic in 1933[1†]. She taught in various schools, gaining firsthand experience with the challenges faced by different social environments[1†]. This led her to publish essays such as “Educación en la adolescencia” (1957), which won the Departmental Council of Montevideo[1†]. Other works related to the topic were “El adolescente de novela y su valor de testimonio” and "Ann Sullivan Macy, la forja en noche plena"[1†].

In 1950, she was sent as a delegate of the Pedagogical Museum of Montevideo to attend the Inter-American Seminar on Primary Education[1†]. Later, she was invited by the government of France to collaborate with the organization of the prison system in that country[1†].

Somers’ literary career began in 1950 with the publication of her first novel, “La mujer desnuda” (The Naked Woman)[1†][3†]. The novel was considered scandalous due to its erotic content and marked a significant departure from the traditional Uruguayan novel of the 1950s[1†][3†]. Despite the controversy, Somers continued to write, contributing significantly to Uruguayan literature.

In 1953, she published her first collection of short stories, which featured a nightmarish and erotic atmosphere[1†][3†]. Her second collection of short stories, “La calle del viento norte y otros cuentos” (The North Wind Street and Other Stories, 1963), showed a more mature writer in style and depth[1†][3†]. Two novels followed, “De miedo en miedo” (From Fear to Fear, 1965) and “Un retrato para Dickens” (1969)[1†][3†].

In 1960, Somers was invited by the government of France to move to that country and study the organization and operation of rehabilitation centers and correctional institutions[1†]. She received a special invitation from the Secretariat of the Second Congress of the United Nations for the prevention of crime and the treatment of offenders, held in London[1†].

Throughout her career, Somers was recognized for her unique style and the depth of her work. Her writings, often exploring themes of feminism and social issues, have left a lasting impact on literature[1†][3†].

First Publication of Her Main Works

Armonía Somers’ literary career was marked by periods of intense creativity punctuated by long pauses and periods of silence[1†]. Despite these pauses, she produced a number of significant works that have left a lasting impact on literature.

Her first novel, “La mujer desnuda” (The Naked Woman), was published in 1950[1†][4†][5†]. This novel was considered so erotically charged that it was initially thought impossible to have been written by a woman[1†][4†][5†]. It marked the beginning of her literary career and established her as a bold and transgressive voice in literature[1†].

Following “La mujer desnuda”, she published the short story collections “El derrumbamiento” in 1953[1†][5†], “De miedo en miedo” in 1967, and “Un retrato para Dickens” in 1969[1†][5†]. Each of these collections further cemented her reputation as a unique and powerful voice in literature[1†].

In 1986, she published “Viaje al corazón del día” and “Sólo los elefantes encuentran mandrágora” (Only Elephants Encounter Mandragora), the latter being her most ambitious and difficult text[1†][3†]. She also published two additional anthologies of her work, “Muerte por alacrán” (1979; Death by Scorpion) and “La rebelión de la flor” (1988)[1†][3†].

Here is a list of her main works with their first year of publication:

Analysis and Evaluation

Armonía Somers’ work is characterized by its transgressive style, often described as violent, erotic, and darkly humorous[6†]. Her unique approach to the construction of female bodies and the use of liquidity to symbolize males’ fear of contamination by an intermingling of the sexes is one of the most interesting aspects of her work[6†]. This fear of contamination is complex, as women’s fluids are seen as dirty and repulsive, but also possessing very powerful qualities[6†].

The male characters in Somers’ works feel threatened by that which they cannot control, and imagine becoming lost in the quagmire of “otherness” that a woman’s body represents[6†]. Their deepest dread seems to be of a blurring of the barriers - the boundaries between power and powerlessness, fear and desire, passion and violence, and even between male and female themselves[6†]. This simultaneous repulsion and desire toward women and their liquidity that is felt by the male characters of Somers’ works is the root cause of much of the sexual violence that is so prevalent in her texts[6†].

In Somers’ works, male identity is based upon the rejection of that which it is not - female and liquid[6†]. This feminine liquidity is cast by the male characters as “other” and as such, is contaminating and filthy[6†]. In an interview, Somers states: "Well, eroticism is a reality. I don’t mean to say that I treat it with contempt but rather naturally. However, destruction is something else again. One destroys in order to swallow up another person; love is ravaging the other in order to incorporate him into oneself. We don’t devour the male the way the female spider does after copulating; but in both men and women a destructive element is present in love, destruction in order to take possession."[6†] This statement is representative of the attitude toward sexuality and male/female relations reflected in her novels and stories[6†].

While women are often victimized by men, their embodiment makes both women and men vulnerable to destruction and there is no God or benevolent being to intervene[6†]. Thus, Somers offers a new perspective on masculine subjectivity as it develops through a variety of relationships with feminine[6†][7†].

Personal Life

Armonía Somers was born as Armonía Liropeya Etchepare Locino on October 7, 1914[1†]. She was the eldest of three daughters of a deeply Catholic mother, María Judith Locino, and an anarchist businessman, Pedro Etchepare[1†]. Her basic studies occurred in a Spanish primary school in Pando, being her the only girl admitted there[1†]. After that, she continued her studies at the Normal school of Montevideo[1†].

In 1953, when she took the manuscript of “El derrumbamiento” (1948) to the print shop for a second edition, she came to meet the publisher Rodolfo A. Henestrosa, whom she married two years later[1†].

After her second novel “De miedo en miedo” was published, Somers moved to her new house in the summer resort Pinamar, about 30 kilometers (19 mi) from Montevideo[1†]. When not there, she lived on the 16th floor of the skyscraper Palacio Salvo[1†].

Somers passed away on March 1, 1994, in Montevideo, Uruguay[1†].

Conclusion and Legacy

Armonía Somers, a notorious outsider within Latin American literature, has left a significant legacy that continues to inspire and influence contemporary literature[8†]. Despite her status as an outsider, the reverence of a myriad of writers and intellectuals have kept her legacy alive, as a sort of cult figure[8†].

Her work, particularly her debut novel “La mujer desnuda” (The Naked Woman, 1950), was ahead of its time, challenging societal norms and expectations with its erotic content[8†][1†][8†]. This novel, along with her other works, showcased her unique, transgressive style, making her a significant figure in the literary movement Generación del 45[8†][1†].

Somers’ work is now gaining recognition beyond Latin America, with “The Naked Woman” being the first full translation of one of her novels into English[8†]. This has allowed her work to reach a wider audience, further cementing her place in literary history[8†].

In conclusion, Armonía Somers was a bold and innovative writer whose work continues to resonate with readers today. Her legacy is a testament to her unique voice and her courage to challenge societal norms[8†][1†][8†][9†].

Key Information

References and Citations:

  1. Wikipedia (English) - Armonía Somers [website] - link
  2. CelebsAgeWiki - Armonía Somers Biography, Age, Height, Wife, Net Worth and Family [website] - link
  3. Encyclopedia.com - Somers, Armonía (1914–1994) [website] - link
  4. World Literature Today - None [website] - link
  5. Words Without Borders - Armonía Somers [website] - link
  7. JSTOR - Armonia Somers' "El despojo": Masculine Subjectivity and Fantasies of Domination [website] - link
  8. Latin American Literature Today - “To replicate the original experience, it had to sound distinctively, gloriously odd”: An Interview with Kit Maude, Translator of Armonía Somers [website] - link
  9. Words Without Borders - On Translating Armonía Somers’s “The Naked Woman” [website] - link
  10. Biblioteca del Poder Legislativo - Catálogo de obras OPAC - ARMONÍA SOMERS [website] - link
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