Ondertexts
Leopoldo Marechal
Search

Leopoldo Marechal

Leopoldo Marechal Leopoldo Marechal[1†]

Leopoldo Marechal (June 11, 1900 – June 26, 1970) was one of the most important Argentine writers of the twentieth century[1†]. Born in Buenos Aires into a family of French and Spanish descent[1†], Marechal started his literary career as an avant-garde poet[1†][2†]. He was a part of the literary group responsible for Martín Fierro and Proa, Ultraista journals that revolutionized Argentine letters[1†][3†]. His first book of poems, Aguiluchos (1922), employed Modernista techniques in the treatment of pastoral themes[1†][3†].

During the 1920s, he was among the poets who rallied around the movement represented by the literary journal Martín Fierro[1†]. His first published works of poetry, Los aguiluchos (1922) and Días como flechas (1926), tended towards vanguardism[1†]. His Odas para el hombre y la mujer showed a blend of novelty and a more classical style[1†]. It is with this collection of poems that Marechal obtained his first official recognition as a poet in 1929, the Premio Municipal de Poesía of the city of Buenos Aires[1†].

He traveled to Europe for the first time in 1926 and in Paris met important intellectuals and artists such as Picasso, Basaldúa and Antonio Berni[1†]. On his second visit to Paris in 1929, he settled in Montparnasse and widened his circle of friends[1†]. It is during this second Parisian experience that Marechal wrote the first two chapters of his novel Adam Buenosayres, which he did not publish until 1948[1†].

Marechal’s masterpiece is the novel Adán Buenosayres (1948), a work of technical complexity, stylistic innovations, and highly poetic language that was a precursor of the Latin American new novel[1†][3†]. The mythical voyage of Adán, the hero, his descent into Hell, and his constant search for the ideal is at once autobiographical, a roman à clef, and a historicalization of Argentina from geologic times[1†][3†].

A socialist in his youth, Marechal became an ardent Peronist, and during the government of Juan Perón he occupied important government cultural posts[3†]. With Perón’s fall he went into virtual seclusion but returned to public attention with the novels El banquete de Severo Arcángelo (1965; “The Banquet of Severo Arcángelo”) and Megafón o la guerra (1970; “Megafón, or The War”)[1†][3†].

Early Years and Education

Leopoldo Marechal was born on June 11, 1900, in Buenos Aires, Argentina[1†]. He came from a family of French and Spanish descent[1†]. His childhood in Buenos Aires and the countryside of Maipú shaped his early life experiences[1†][4†], which he later recreated in his works[1†][4†].

Despite facing enormous economic difficulties, Marechal pursued his education and became a primary school teacher and a high school professor after obtaining his degree[1†]. This period of his life, including his years spent as a teacher, would later be reflected in his literary works[1†][4†].

In the 1920s, Marechal was among the poets who rallied around the movement represented by the literary journal Martín Fierro[1†][3†]. This group was responsible for revolutionizing Argentine letters[1†][3†]. His involvement with this group marked a significant phase in his educational journey, shaping his literary style and philosophical outlook[1†][3†].

Marechal’s first trip to Europe in 1926 was another pivotal moment in his education[1†]. In Paris, he met important intellectuals and artists such as Picasso, Basaldúa, and Antonio Berni[1†]. His interactions with these figures broadened his intellectual horizons and influenced his literary style[1†].

Career Development and Achievements

Leopoldo Marechal’s career began in the 1920s when he was part of the literary group responsible for Martín Fierro and Proa, Ultraista journals that revolutionized Argentine letters[1†][3†]. His first book of poems, Aguiluchos (1922), employed Modernista techniques in the treatment of pastoral themes[1†][3†]. His subsequent works, Días como flechas (1926) and Odas para el hombre y la mujer (1929), showed a blend of novelty and a more classical style[1†]. It is with Odas para el hombre y la mujer that Marechal obtained his first official recognition as a poet in 1929, the Premio Municipal de Poesía of the city of Buenos Aires[1†].

Marechal traveled to Europe for the first time in 1926 and in Paris met important intellectuals and artists such as Picasso, Basaldúa, and Antonio Berni[1†]. On his second visit to Paris in 1929, he settled in Montparnasse and widened his circle of friends[1†]. It is during this second Parisian experience that Marechal wrote the first two chapters of his novel Adam Buenosayres, which he did not publish until 1948[1†].

Back in Buenos Aires, Marechal married María Zoraida Barreiro in 1934[1†]. Their two daughters, María de los Ángeles and María Magdalena, were born some years after[1†]. Marechal again obtained the First Prize of the prestigious Premio Municipal de Poesía in 1940 for his poetry book entitled Sonetos a Sophia[1†].

The publication of the writer’s Adam Buenosayres, considered by many as the fundamental novel of Argentine literature, did not have the expected repercussion, possibly due to the poet’s open sympathies for the government of Juan Domingo Perón, the controversial populist leader greatly influenced by his radical wife Evita[1†]. Among the novel’s most ardent admirers was Julio Cortázar, who wrote a long critical study in the literary magazine Realidad in 1949[1†].

A socialist in his youth, Marechal became an ardent Peronist, and during the government of Juan Perón he occupied important government cultural posts[1†][3†]. With Perón’s fall he went into virtual seclusion but returned to public attention with the novels El banquete de Severo Arcángelo (1965; “The Banquet of Severo Arcángelo”) and Megafón o la guerra (1970; “Megafón, or The War”)[1†][3†].

First Publication of His Main Works

Leopoldo Marechal began his literary career as a poet, with his first book of poems, “Los Aguiluchos” (1922), offering a poetic vision of enjoyment found in the beauty of nature[4†]. This was followed by “Días Como Flechas” (1926), which alludes to the biblical story of creation and shows greater structure and harmony in the platonic world constructed by the poet[4†].

His work “Odas para el hombre y la mujer” (1929) is a blend of novelty and a more classical style[4†][1†][3†]. This collection of poems earned him his first official recognition as a poet in 1929, the Premio Municipal de Poesía of the city of Buenos Aires[4†][1†].

Marechal’s masterpiece is the novel “Adán Buenosayres” (1948), a work of technical complexity, stylistic innovations, and highly poetic language[4†][1†][3†]. The mythical voyage of Adán, the hero, his descent into Hell, and his constant search for the ideal is at once autobiographical, a roman à clef, and a historicalization of Argentina from geologic times[4†][1†][3†].

Here are some of his main works with their first year of publication:

Analysis and Evaluation

Leopoldo Marechal’s work has been the subject of extensive analysis and evaluation. His writing style, characterized by its technical complexity, stylistic innovations, and highly poetic language, has left a significant impact on Argentine literature[5†][1†].

One of the most notable aspects of Marechal’s work is his ability to adapt and refashion classical works to reflect the Argentine landscape and ideology. A prime example of this is his adaptation of Sophocles’ Antigone into “Antígona Vélez”, which he set in Argentina’s nineteenth-century landscape[5†]. This adaptation served as a vehicle for Peronist ideology and foundational discourse for a "New Argentina"[5†]. The play offers an example of how pro-Peronist cultural representation assisted the regime in consolidating the vision of the Peronist pueblo for Argentine audiences[5†].

Marechal’s novel “Adán Buenosayres” is considered by many as the fundamental novel of Argentine literature[5†][1†]. Despite the initial lack of expected repercussion, possibly due to the poet’s open sympathies for the government of Juan Domingo Perón, the novel found its ardent admirers, including Julio Cortázar, who wrote a long critical study in the literary magazine Realidad in 1949[5†][1†].

Despite his seminal influence and the importance of his novels, Marechal, first and foremost, is a poet of primary importance[5†][1†]. His poetry, starting from “Los Aguiluchos” to “Sonetos a Sophia”, shows a blend of novelty and a more classical style, earning him recognition as a poet[5†][1†].

Personal Life

Leopoldo Marechal was born in Buenos Aires into a family of French and Spanish descent[1†]. He married María Zoraida Barreiro in 1934[1†]. They had two daughters, María de los Ángeles and María Magdalena[1†]. The poet’s wife died in 1970, leaving him with two small children[1†]. Marechal’s personal life, relationships, and family were notable aspects outside his professional career[1†].

Conclusion and Legacy

Leopoldo Marechal’s work has left a lasting impact on Argentine literature[1†]. His novel, Adán Buenosayres, is considered by many as the fundamental novel of Argentine literature[1†]. Despite the initial lack of expected repercussion, possibly due to Marechal’s open sympathies for the government of Juan Domingo Perón, the novel gained admiration from many, including writer Julio Cortázar, who wrote a long critical study in the literary magazine Realidad in 1949[1†].

Marechal’s work remained widely ignored by many colleagues of the literary world, including Jorge Luis Borges, whose mother and sister had been imprisoned during Peron´s presidency[1†]. However, his influence has been seminal, and he is now recognized as a primary figure in Argentine literature[1†].

After Perón’s fall, Marechal went into virtual seclusion but returned to public attention with the novels El banquete de Severo Arcángelo (1965) and Megafón o la guerra (1970)[1†]. In these works, Marechal continued his explorations of mythology and idealism[1†][3†].

Leopoldo Marechal’s legacy is not only his contribution to Argentine literature but also his commitment to his political beliefs, which he upheld despite the potential detriment to his literary career[1†].

Key Information

References and Citations:

  1. Wikipedia (English) - Leopoldo Marechal [website] - link
  2. The Modern Novel - Leopoldo Marechal [website] - link
  3. Britannica - Leopoldo Marechal: Argentine author [website] - link
  4. Encyclopedia.com - Marechal, Leopoldo (1900–1970) [website] - link
  5. Hispanic Issues On Line 13 (2013) - Whose Voice is This? Iberian and Latin American Antigones [document] - link
Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License 4.0; additional terms may apply.
Ondertexts® is a registered trademark of Ondertexts Foundation, a non-profit organization.