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  • Leopoldo Marechal and Adán Buenosayres in State of Exile
  • Elena Patricia Picech

Biografía de poeta

......................................Por eso, quien alabe mi alegríadebe ignorar que se trenzó de olvidos,y quien se anime a compartir mi danzano ha de saber que olvidos juiciosos la construyen......................................Yo no intenté jamás la fortuna de un bailesin que algún segador me cortara los pies.Y si mi canto remontó algún cielo,fue para derrumbarse ante mis ojoscon un temblor de pluma ensangrentada.....................................No bien el enemigo abandonósu lanzadera en el telar del odio,un sueño de gusano cayó sobre mi almabien defendida por su cascarón....................................

Heptamerón (1: 351-357)


Leopoldo Marechal (1900-1970), author of the novel Adán Buenosayres (1948), was exiled without ever leaving the confines of his own city, Buenos Aires. His name, however, does not appear in the comprehensive list of exiles catalogued in Literary Exile in the Twentieth Century, edited by Martin Tucker. [End Page 79] The list contains the names of over 3000 literary figures from all over the world who experienced exile for different reasons: cultural, personal, social, political or religious. Although Marechal's condition of exile involved some of these reasons, he never actually left his homeland. Yet, during the fifties and part of the sixties, the author and his first novel vanished. Marechal disappeared from the public eye to the point that people began to think he was dead. At the same time, Adán Buenosayres rested on the warehouse of the publishing company. The innovative novel had to await a new literary group of critics, one distanced from the political zeal that surrounded Peronismo.

Leopoldo Marechal was part of the avant-garde group that, along with Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986) and other notable figures, in the 1920s, contributed to the literary circles of Martín Fierro. The magazine, directed by Evar Méndez, attracted the rebellious and playful young artists who were committed to new forms of expression. At the time in Buenos Aires, two groups, Boedo and Florida, disputed the control of the literary space. Both were equally innovative and nationalistic but held different approaches toward art: while members of group Boedo were concerned with social issues and placed the working class at the center of their fictional work, Florida was more concerned with literature and aesthetics itself. The first one appealed to a broader audience, the second one, to an elitist minority. However, the dividing line was not always clear-cut: some members interacted with both groups. They all sought literary renovation and the public legitimization of their artistic professions. Having lost the privileged position intellectuals occupied in previous decades, they needed to reposition themselves and were attempting to redefine their role. They stopped being "estadistas" to become artists (Masiello 13). This transitional period coincided with a growing middle class and the rising of a working class mostly of European descent. The next decades made visible a new working class coming from the provinces, less "cultured" when measure by European standards, and until then disregarded by the intellectuals. It was the beginning of a new political era that would shape a new breed of intellectuals. While during the twenties the battles among the intellectual community remained concerned primarily with forms of expression, during the thirties, the environment became more politicized.

The decade of the 1930s was inaugurated by the first military coup since the constitution of the State. Fearful of the populism that had accompanied Hipólito Irigoyen (1852-1933), the oligarchy and the intellectuals, fueled by nationalistic right wing sentiment, supported the coup against the leader of the Partido Radical. Maristella Svampa asserts that this historical moment signaled the "impossibility of articulating the political and the social" (182). In addition, the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) and the declaration of the Second World War (1939-1945) elicited strong divisions that led to frictions. A divided intellectual class that included liberals, traditional hispanists and revisionists characterized this decade. Many of them were welcomed at Sur, the most [End Page 80] influential cultural publication of the time. Since its inception, in 1931, the literary magazine fostered the...


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