Onetti belongs to a group of writers, born in Uruguay and Argentina, who reached maturity during the politically tumultuous 1930’s and who became known as “the lost generation.” They share a nihilist vision of the world, expressed through the solitary, alienated characters they create. These writers practice a kind of existentialism; their conflict with society is reflected in the deliberately fragmentary quality of their fiction. A good example of such fragmentation can be seen in Onetti’s A Brief Life.
A Brief Life is considered to be a pivotal work in Onetti’s career. His previous works—El pozo (1939), Tierra de nadie (1941), and Para esta noche (1943)—sketch the psychological conflicts that are fully developed in A Brief Life. Many of the works that follow—Los adioses (1954), Para una tumba sin nombre (1959), Juntacádaveres (1964), and La muerte y la niña (1973)—base their plots on the inventions created in Juan María Brausen’s mind.
Indeed, the world of Santa María, first introduced in A Brief Life, appears as a constant in Onetti’s following works. Santa María, like Macondo in Gabriel García Márquez’s books, becomes a mythical place. Onetti succeeds in transporting the reader to his character’s fantasy world, because, although nonexistent, it seems perfectly real.
A Brief Life explores...
(The entire section is 278 words.)
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