A descendant of the diplomat, author, and educator Sarmiento, Eduardo Mallea (mah-YAH-ah) was born on August 14, 1903, in desolate, wind-swept Bahía Blanca, Argentina, the setting for much of his writing. After his primary instruction by an Australian woman, his physician father took him to Buenos Aires, where he studied law until the sale of some children’s stories turned him to literature as a career. Some of his short stories were published in journals in the 1920’s. In 1926 his first collection of stories, the fantastic and frantic Cuentos para una inglesa desesperada (stories for a desperate Englishwoman), opened the way for a voyage to Europe and brought him in 1931 the literary editorship of La nación, Argentina’s most influential newspaper, in Buenos Aires. A lecture trip to Italy later resulted in Nocturno europeo, an example of his technique of using a slim fictional plot to tie together his ideas. It won for him the first of many literary prizes, which included the Primer Premio Nacional de Letras in 1945, the Forti Glori Prize in 1968, and the Gran Premio Nacional de las Artes in 1970. Mallea married Helena Muñóz Larreta in 1944.
His Historia de una pasión argentina (history of an Argentine passion), probably his most important essay, is the cornerstone of his credo. It includes many autobiographical elements, and its hero Adrian seeks relief for his tormented soul in the Confessions of...
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