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Juan Carlos Onetti; Compared to Faulkner

Juan Carlos Onetti, 85, the Uruguayan-born novelist described by some literary critics as an existentialist, who said the main themes of all his works were sadness, anguish and solitude. Onetti was often compared to William Faulkner, creating what critic Jorge Campos has called “desperate characters without dreams, but who are not lacking in humanity.” Onetti’s works have been translated into English, Portuguese, French, German, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Italian, Hebrew and Japanese. One short story, “El Infierno Mas Temido” (“The Most Feared Hell”) was made into a film in Argentina. Born in Montevideo, he began his career with publication of a short story in Buenos Aires’ La Prensa newspaper in 1932. Seven years later, he wrote his first novel, “El Pozo” (“The Well”). Some of his best-known novels are “Tierra de Nadie” (“No Man’s Land”), “La Vida Breve” (“The Short Life”), “El Astillero” (“The Shipyard”) and “Dejemos Hablar al Viento” (“Let the Wind Speak”). Several of his stories take place in the fictional town of Santa Maria, which he developed into one of the best-known mythical places of contemporary Latin American literature. In 1980, he was awarded the Cervantes Prize, Spain’s highest award for literature. His last work, “Cuentos Completos” (“Complete Stories”), was published a month ago. Ten years ago, Onetti decided to shut himself up in his house and not leave his bed because, he said, “it is a mistake to let in the outside world.” In Madrid on May 30.


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