- Purchase/rental options available:
The stories of mining life written by Baldomero Lillo (1867–1923) and published in a collection titled Sub terra: cuentos mineros (1904) undoubtedly function as both documents of the squalid conditions of the mining industry’s accompanying socio-economic context and also as stubborn critique of the dehumanizing work practices that inevitably led to greater company profits: wealth that did not trickle down to the miners themselves. Nevertheless, although they have been canonically interpreted as faithful representations of the difficult life faced by miners in Southern Chile at the turn of the twentieth-century, Lillo’s tales constitute not merely an eloquent call to arms against an incipient Latin American industrial capitalism, but also an admirable and complex fusion of both naturalist and modernist literary styles. In articulating Lillo’s perhaps subtle but nonetheless significant connection to literary modernism, this essay seeks to breathe life into Evelyn Picon Garfield and Ivan A. Schulman’s (1984) insistence that many times “pasan inadvertidos los valores modernistas de obras consideradas naturalistas” (10). To date, the modernist aspects of Lillo’s prose have indeed been all but overlooked, despite a brief but compelling essay by Víctor M. Valenzuela titled “Lillo and Modernism” published over 50 years ago.