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Manuel Puig

Manuel Puig Manuel Puig[2†]

Manuel Puig, born as Juan Manuel Puig Delledonne[1†][2†], was an Argentine author known for his significant contributions to literature. He was born on December 28, 1932, in General Villegas, Argentina[1†][2†]. Puig achieved international acclaim with his novel “El beso de la mujer araña” (1976; Kiss of the Spider Woman), which was later adapted into a film in 1985[1†][2†]. His other notable works include “La traición de Rita Hayworth” (Betrayed by Rita Hayworth, 1968) and “Boquitas pintadas” (Heartbreak Tango, 1969)[1†][2†].

Early Years and Education

Manuel Puig was born in General Villegas, Buenos Aires Province[2†][3†]. Since there was no high school in General Villegas, his parents sent him to Buenos Aires in 1946[2†]. Puig attended Colegio Ward in Villa Sarmiento (Morón County)[2†]. This is when he began to read systematically, beginning with a collection of texts by Nobel Prize winners[2†]. A classmate named Horacio, in whose home Puig rented accommodation when he first moved to Buenos Aires, introduced him to readings from the school of psychoanalysis[2†]. The first novel that he read was The Pastoral Symphony by André Gide; he also read Hermann Hesse, Aldous Huxley, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Thomas Mann[2†]. Horacio also introduced Puig to European cinema[2†]. After seeing Quai des Orfèvres (1947), he decided that he wanted to be a film director[2†].

To prepare for his chosen career, he learned Italian, French, and German, which were considered "the new languages of cinema"[2†]. He was advised to study engineering in order to specialize in sound-on-film but did not consider this to be the right choice[2†]. In 1950, he enrolled in the University of Buenos Aires Faculty of Architecture but only took classes for six months[2†]. In 1951, Puig switched to the School of Philosophy[2†]. He was a diligent student, although he struggled with subjects such as Latin[2†]. When he graduated, he was already working in film as an archivist and editor in Buenos Aires and later, in Italy after winning a scholarship from the Italian Institute of Buenos Aires[2†].

Career Development and Achievements

Manuel Puig’s career was marked by his love for cinema and literature[1†][2†]. His early career was characterized by various unsuccessful attempts to break into screenwriting and directing[1†][3†]. From 1955 to 1962, Puig sought to make progress in the film industry but was consistently unable to do so[1†][3†]. However, the world of Hollywood and the stars that had captivated him during his childhood now disappointed him[1†][2†].

Despite these setbacks, Puig found success in the literary world. His first novel, “La traición de Rita Hayworth” (Betrayed by Rita Hayworth, 1968), is a semi-autobiographical account of a boy who escapes the boredom of living on the pampas by fantasizing about the lives of the stars he has seen in motion pictures[1†]. The book was later described by Puig as a vehicle for dealing with the oppression of women and the development of a latent-homosexual child[1†].

His second novel, “Boquitas pintadas” (Heartbreak Tango, 1969), parodied the serialized novels that are popular in Argentina[1†]. “The Buenos Aires Affair” (1973) is a detective novel describing the psychopathic behavior of characters who are sexually repressed[1†].

Puig achieved international acclaim with his novel “El beso de la mujer araña” (Kiss of the Spider Woman, 1976), which was later adapted into a film in 1985[1†][2†]. The book’s denunciation of sexual and political repression, treated poetically and with an uncommon degree of tenderness, contributed to its success[1†].

His later books include “Pubis angelical” (1979; Eng. trans. Pubis angelical) and “Maldición eterna a quien lea estas páginas” (1980; Eternal Curse on the Reader of These Pages)[1†].

First Publication of His Main Works

Manuel Puig’s literary career was marked by a series of notable works that have had a significant impact on both Latin American literature and the global literary scene[2†][4†][5†].

Each of these works showcases Puig’s unique narrative style, which often incorporates elements of popular culture and uses unconventional narrative techniques to explore deep psychological and social themes[2†][4†][5†].

Analysis and Evaluation

Manuel Puig’s work is characterized by a unique blend of high and low culture, with his novels often identified with one or more genres of popular writing, such as serial melodrama, science fiction, screenplay, and detective fiction[6†]. His use of these various genres shifted between parody and emulation[6†].

Puig’s first novel, “La traición de Rita Hayworth” (Betrayed by Rita Hayworth), shows with extraordinary vividness the ability of a popular medium to bedazzle and distract consumers, particularly when audience members lack other sources of stimulation[6†][7†]. The novel, however, does not constitute simply a lovingly nostalgic evocation of a filmgoer’s paradise, for Puig also offers a critique of popular culture[6†][7†].

In his work, Puig explored such phenomena as the effects of mass communications and culture, the issues of changing gender roles and variant sexualities, and the need to establish new types of bonds in an impermanent and rapidly changing social environment[6†]. His novels appeal to various subcultures, and film enthusiasts are understandably drawn to this novelist, who used a storehouse of cinematic knowledge in his fiction[6†].

Puig’s work, particularly “El beso de la mujer araña” (Kiss of the Spider Woman), has been critically acclaimed for its exploration of themes of sexuality, repression, and personal freedom[6†]. His novels have had a significant impact on both Latin American literature and the global literary scene[6†].

References and Citations:

  1. Britannica - Manuel Puig: Argentine author [website] - link
  2. Wikipedia (English) - Manuel Puig [website] - link
  3. eNotes - Manuel Puig Biography [website] - link
  4. eNotes - Works by Manuel Puig [website] - link
  5. Goodreads - Author: Manuel Puig (Author of Kiss of the Spider Woman) [website] - link
  6. eNotes - Manuel Puig Analysis [website] - link
  7. eNotes - Manuel Puig Long Fiction Analysis [website] - link
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