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Juan Zorrilla de San Martín

Juan Zorrilla de San Martín Juan Zorrilla de San Martín[1†]

Juan Zorrilla de San Martín (28 December 1855 – 3 November 1931) was a prominent Uruguayan epic poet and political figure[1†]. Born in Montevideo, Uruguay, he is often referred to as the “National Poet of Uruguay” due to his significant contributions to Uruguayan literature[1†].

Early Years and Education

Juan Zorrilla de San Martín was born on December 28, 1855, in Montevideo, Uruguay[2†][3†]. His parents were natives of Spain and devout Catholics, a faith that Zorrilla de San Martín maintained throughout his life[2†][4†].

He received his early education in Jesuit schools in Montevideo and in Santa Fe, Argentina[2†][3†][4†]. These formative years in Jesuit institutions likely played a significant role in shaping his worldview and his literary style[2†][3†].

After completing his early education, Zorrilla de San Martín pursued higher studies at the university in Santiago de Chile, where he received his law degree in 1877[2†][3†]. This legal education would later serve him well in his various government roles[2†][3†].

Returning to Montevideo in 1878, he took a position in the federal courts[2†][3†]. His return to Uruguay marked the beginning of his significant contributions to both the literary and political spheres of his home country[2†][3†].

Career Development and Achievements

Juan Zorrilla de San Martín’s career in public affairs began in 1888 when he was elected to the Chamber of Deputies[4†]. He served briefly in this role, representing Montevideo[4†][5†]. In 1891, he was appointed minister plenipotentiary to Spain[4†]. While in Madrid, he took an active part in the city’s intellectual life and in the 400th anniversary of Columbus’s discovery of the Americas[4†].

In 1892, Zorrilla de San Martín went to Madrid as the Uruguayan representative to celebrate the four-hundredth anniversary of Columbus’s arrival in the New World[4†][3†]. This event marked a significant milestone in his diplomatic career.

In 1894, he served as the Uruguayan ambassador in Paris[4†][3†]. His diplomatic career also included serving as the Uruguayan minister to France, Portugal, Spain, and the Vatican[4†][2†][1†].

In 1899, Zorrilla de San Martín edited “El Bien”, the new name of the journal he had founded[4†][3†]. His contributions to journalism through this periodical further cemented his influence in both the literary and political spheres.

Throughout his career, Zorrilla de San Martín’s literary and political work were deeply intertwined. His poetry often reflected themes of patriotism and national identity, while his political roles allowed him to represent Uruguay on the international stage[4†][2†][1†][3†][5†][4†].

First Publication of His Main Works

Juan Zorrilla de San Martín is best known for his long historical verse epic, Tabaré[2†][1†]. This poem, based on a legend of love between a Spanish girl and an Indian boy, is considered the national poem for Uruguayans[2†][1†]. The post-romantic verses of Tabaré recite the story of Uruguay—its people, its civilization, its spirit, and its aspirations[2†][3†]. The poem was first published in 1888 and went through several revisions, with the final edition being released in 1926[2†].

Another well-known poem by Zorrilla de San Martín is La leyenda patria (The Fatherland Legend)[2†][1†][6†]. This patriotic ode achieved renown for the poet[2†].

Zorrilla de San Martín also wrote the Hymn to the Tree (Himno al Arbol), a well-known Spanish poem later made a song in several Latin-American countries[2†][1†][6†].

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

Analysis and Evaluation

Juan Zorrilla de San Martín’s work was not abstractly romantic but sought to recount the glories of an era of heroism and idealism[4†]. He blended history and creativity in the form of legend and became a principal spokesman for conservative and traditional standards against the populist and modernizing standards that swept the country during his lifetime[4†].

His long historical verse epic, Tabaré, is based upon a legend of love between a Spanish girl and an Indian boy[4†][2†][1†]. This poem, in six cantos, is considered the national poem for Uruguayans[4†][2†][1†]. The post-romantic verses of Tabaré recite the story of Uruguay—its people, its civilization, its spirit, and its aspirations[4†][6†]. His first work, Notas de un himno (1876; “Notes for a Hymn”), dealing with themes of sadness and patriotism, clearly reflects the influence of the famous Spanish Romantic poet Gustavo Adolfo Becquer[4†][2†].

Zorrilla de San Martín’s work sets the tone for all his poetic work that followed[4†][2†]. His patriotic ode La leyenda patria (“The Fatherland Legend”) achieved renown for the poet[4†][2†]. His contributions to literature and his political career have left a lasting impact on Uruguay and its cultural history[4†][1†].

Personal Life

Juan Zorrilla de San Martín led a significant life both professionally and personally. He was twice widowed and was the father of 13 children[1†][6†][5†]. One of his children, José Luis Zorrilla de San Martín, followed in his father’s artistic footsteps and became an internationally renowned sculptor[1†][5†]. His granddaughter, China Zorrilla, achieved international fame as an actress[1†][5†].

In addition to his family life, Zorrilla de San Martín was also active in politics. He served as a Deputy for Montevideo from 1888 to 1891 and held several ambassadorial roles[1†][6†][5†]. His political career further illustrates the breadth of his influence beyond the realm of literature.

Zorrilla de San Martín’s personal life, much like his professional life, was marked by a deep commitment to his country and his culture. His legacy lives on through his family and the enduring impact of his work.

Conclusion and Legacy

Juan Zorrilla de San Martín’s legacy extends far beyond his literary contributions. As a dynamic orator, he was one of the most revered public figures in Uruguay, a defender of his country’s democratic institutions, and the voice of Uruguay in its art and music, its heritage, and traditions[3†]. His work is characterized by patriotic passion and vigor and by great sentiment for a romanticized past[3†][4†].

His epic poem “Tabaré” is not only considered the national poem of Uruguay but also a significant contribution to Latin American literature[3†][2†][1†]. His other well-known poem, “La leyenda patria” (The Fatherland Legend), is also celebrated for its patriotic themes[3†][1†].

Zorrilla de San Martín’s influence is still felt today. His home in Montevideo is now a museum[3†][1†], and he was featured on the 20,000 pesos banknote from 1989 to 1991, and has been featured on the 20 pesos note since 1994[3†][1†]. His family continues his legacy, with his children and grandchildren making significant contributions in the fields of sculpture, acting, and politics[3†][1†].

In conclusion, Juan Zorrilla de San Martín’s life and works have left an indelible mark on Uruguayan literature, culture, and history. His legacy continues to inspire and influence, cementing his place as the National Poet of Uruguay[3†][1†].

Key Information

References and Citations:

  1. Wikipedia (English) - Juan Zorrilla de San Martín [website] - link
  2. Britannica - Juan Zorrilla de San Martín: Uruguayan poet [website] - link
  3. Encyclopedia.com - Zorrilla de San Martín, Juan (1855–1931) [website] - link
  4. Encyclopedia.com - Juan Zorrilla de San Martin [website] - link
  5. Alchetron - Juan Zorrilla de San Martín - Alchetron, the free social encyclopedia [website] - link
  6. Wikiwand - Juan Zorrilla de San Martín - Wikiwand [website] - link
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