Ondertexts
Roberto Arlt
Search

Roberto Arlt

Roberto Arlt Roberto Arlt[1†]

Roberto Arlt (April 26, 1900 – July 26, 1942) was an Argentine novelist, storyteller, playwright, journalist, and inventor[1†][2†]. Born as Roberto Godofredo Christophersen Arlt in Buenos Aires, his parents were both immigrants[1†]. His father, Karl Arlt, was from Posen (now Poznań in present-day Poland) and his mother was Ekatherine Iobstraibitzer, a native of Trieste and Italian speaking[1†]. German was the language commonly used at their home[1†].

Early Years and Education

Roberto Godofredo Christophersen Arlt was born in Buenos Aires on April 26, 1900[1†][2†][3†]. His parents were both immigrants[1†][2†][3†]. His father, Karl Arlt, was from Posen (now Poznań in present-day Poland) and his mother was Ekatherine Iobstraibitzer, born in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, a native of Trieste and Italian speaking[1†][2†][3†]. German was the language commonly used at their home[1†][2†][3†].

Arlt’s relationship with his father was stressful, as Karl Arlt was a very severe and austere man, by Arlt’s own account[1†]. The memory of his oppressive father would appear in several of his writings[1†]. For example, Remo Erdosain (a character at least partially based on Arlt’s own life) often recalls his abusive father and how little if any support he would give him[1†].

After being expelled from school at the age of eight, Arlt became an autodidact and worked at all sorts of different odd jobs before landing a job at a local newspaper[1†]. He worked as a clerk at a bookstore, apprentice to a tinsmith, painter, mechanic, welder, manager in a brick factory, and dock worker[1†].

His dream was to become distinguished as an inventor, but he continuously met with failure[1†][4†]. Despite these challenges, Arlt’s early experiences would later influence his work, particularly his first novel, El juguete rabioso (1926) (“Mad Toy”), which was the semi-autobiographical story of Silvio, a dropout who goes through a series of adventures trying to be "somebody"[1†].

Career Development and Achievements

Roberto Arlt’s career was as diverse as it was prolific. He was a novelist, short-story writer, dramatist, journalist, and even an inventor[2†][1†][5†]. His first novel, El juguete rabioso (1926) (“Mad Toy”), was the semi-autobiographical story of Silvio, a dropout who goes through a series of adventures trying to be "somebody"[2†][1†]. The narrator’s literary and sometimes poetic language contrasts sharply with the street-level slang of Mad Toy’s many colorful characters[2†][1†].

Arlt’s second novel, the popular Los siete locos (The Seven Madmen) was rough, brutal, colloquial, and surreal, a complete break from the polite, middle-class literature more typical of Argentine literature[2†][1†]. Los lanzallamas (The Flame-Throwers) was the sequel, and these two novels together are thought by many to be his greatest work[2†][1†].

During his lifetime, however, Arlt was best known for his “Aguafuertes” (“Etchings”), the result of his contributions as a columnist - between 1928 and 1942 - to the Buenos Aires daily "El Mundo"[2†][1†]. Arlt used these columns to comment, in his characteristically forthright and unpretentious style, on the peculiarities, hypocrisies, strangeness, and beauty of everyday life in Argentina’s capital[2†][1†].

Among Arlt’s plays, Trescientos millones (1932; “Three Hundred Million”) and Saverio el cruel (1936; “Saverio the Cruel,” not staged until 1956) stand out[2†]. Trescientos millones is rich in its use of experimental techniques, and Saverio is notable for its treatment of reality along Pirandellian lines[2†].

First Publication of His Main Works

Roberto Arlt’s literary career was marked by his unique style and the profound impact of his works. Here are some of his main works:

Arlt’s works were characterized by their unique style, their exploration of the absurd, and their critical look at society. His novels and stories were filled with bizarre, alienated characters and reflected the chaos of urban life[1†][2†].

Analysis and Evaluation

Roberto Arlt’s work is characterized by a unique style that broke away from the traditional norms of Argentine literature[7†][1†]. His novels and stories are filled with bizarre, alienated characters and reflect the chaos of urban life[7†][1†].

Arlt’s first novel, El juguete rabioso (1926), marked a significant shift in Argentine literature[7†]. His prose style, which was different from his famous predecessors, was a reflection of his social experiences[7†]. His novels, filled with anguished characters and urban chaos, brought the city as a force into the novel[7†].

His second novel, Los siete locos (1929), was rough, brutal, colloquial, and surreal, a complete break from the polite, middle-class literature more typical of Argentine literature[7†][1†]. The sequel, Los lanzallamas (1931), along with Los siete locos, is considered by many to be his greatest work[7†][1†].

During his lifetime, Arlt was best known for his “Aguafuertes” (“Etchings”), the result of his contributions as a columnist to the Buenos Aires daily “El Mundo” between 1928 and 1942[7†][1†]. In these columns, Arlt commented on the peculiarities, hypocrisies, strangeness, and beauty of everyday life in Argentina’s capital[7†][1†].

Critics have often attacked Arlt for what has been called his “lexical poverty”. They have also assumed too readily that he was a consistent user of lunfardo, whatever the context[7†]. These criticisms must be put to the test for they have often been advanced without evidence[7†].

In conclusion, Roberto Arlt’s work represents a significant shift in Argentine literature. His unique style and the profound impact of his works have left a lasting legacy in the literary world[7†][1†].

Personal Life

Roberto Arlt was married to Carmen Antinucci, who unfortunately passed away in 1940[1†]. Later, he married Elizabeth Shine in 1939[1†][4†]. He had two children, Mirta Electra and Roberto[1†].

Arlt’s personal life was marked by the harsh relationship with his father, which influenced his writings[1†]. His characters often reflect his own experiences with his father[1†].

Despite the hardships, Arlt was a self-taught individual who managed to educate himself after being expelled from school at a young age[1†]. His perseverance and determination are evident in his diverse range of jobs before he became a renowned writer[1†].

Conclusion and Legacy

Roberto Arlt, a pioneer of the novel of the absurd in Argentinian literature, left an indelible mark on the literary world[2†]. Despite his challenging upbringing and self-education, Arlt’s work reflected the energy, chaos, and peculiarities of life, particularly in Buenos Aires[2†][1†].

His novels, such as “El juguete rabioso” (1926; “The Rabid Toy”), “Los siete locos” (1929; “The Seven Madmen”), and “Los lanzallamas” (1931; “The Flame Throwers”), broke away from the polite, middle-class literature that was more typical of Argentine literature[2†][1†]. These works are filled with grotesque and nightmarish scenes, and are populated by anguished, half-insane characters in revolt against society[2†].

Arlt’s “Aguafuertes” (“Etchings”), a series of articles published in the Buenos Aires daily “El Mundo” between 1928 and 1942, were perhaps his most well-known works during his lifetime[2†][1†]. In these pieces, Arlt commented on the hypocrisies, strangeness, and beauty of everyday life in Argentina’s capital[2†][1†].

His plays, such as “Trescientos millones” (1932; “Three Hundred Million”) and “Saverio el cruel” (1936; “Saverio the Cruel”), are also notable. “Trescientos millones” is rich in its use of experimental techniques, while “Saverio el cruel” treats reality along Pirandellian lines[2†].

Arlt’s legacy continues to influence Argentine literature and culture. His works, filled with a sense of alienation and revolt, continue to resonate with readers, reflecting the universal human condition[2†][1†].

Key Information

References and Citations:

  1. Wikipedia (English) - Roberto Arlt [website] - link
  2. Britannica - Roberto Arlt: Argentine author [website] - link
  3. Goodreads - Author: Roberto Arlt (Author of El juguete rabioso) [website] - link
  4. Encyclopedia.com - Roberto Arlt [website] - link
  5. Wikiwand - Roberto Arlt - Wikiwand [website] - link
  6. Goodreads - Book: The Seven Madmen The Flamethrowers [website] - link
  7. JSTOR - THE PROSE STYLE OF ROBERTO ARLT: TOWARDS A REAPPRAISAL [website] - 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.