Study Guide

Julio Cortázar

Julio Cortázar Biography

Biography (Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

ph_0111207073-Cortazar.jpgJulio Cortázar Published by Salem Press, Inc.

Julio Cortázar (cohr-TAH-sahr), unquestionably one of the pivotal figures in Latin American literature, is a master of the short story, and his novel Hopscotch is widely considered to be one of the first great Spanish American novels. Born in Belgium to Julio José and María Descotte de Cortázar, Cortázar learned French along with his native Spanish, and his French-Argentine duality underlies all his work. His father abandoned the family soon after they returned to Argentina in 1920, and Julio was brought up by his mother and aunt. After earning degrees in primary and secondary education, with a concentration in literature, he first taught high school in several small towns and in Mendoza. He then taught French literature at the University of Cuyo, but his agitation against the Peronist regime led to his arrest and his subsequent forced resignation from the university. During his teaching years he wrote steadily but, dissatisfied with the quality of his work, refused to publish anything other than the collection of poems Presencia (presence), which appeared in 1938 under the pseudonym Julio Denís, and the long philosophic-dramatic poem Los reyes (the kings), which appeared in 1949 under his own name, as did a few magazine stories. It was fellow author Jorge Luis Borges, with whose work Cortázar’s has often been compared, who published his compatriot’s first story, “House Taken Over,” in the journal Los Anales de Buenos Aires.{$S[A]Denís, Julio;Cortázar, Julio}

Oppressed by the political and literary atmosphere of his native land, Cortázar took advantage of a scholarship from the French government to study in Paris. He left Argentina in 1951 to settle permanently in Paris, where he earned his living working as a freelance translator and for the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). In 1953 Cortázar married the Argentinian Aurora Bernardez, who was also a freelance translator. The year 1951 marked the official start of Cortázar’s literary career with the publication of Bestiario (bestiary), his first collection of short stories. Bestiario contains Cortázar’s trademark signature, the gradual intrusion of a mysterious subversive element into the lives of ordinary people. Rarely is this force seen as an instrument of good, or at least liberating change; rather, it serves as an obsessive harbinger of destruction and death. (Julio Cortázar is the Spanish translator of the collected works of Edgar Allan Poe.)

Cortázar’s next volume of short stories, End of the Game, and Other Stories, contains some of his best prose. Stories such as “Axolotl” and “The Night Face Up” have...

(The entire section is 1114 words.)

Julio Cortázar Biography (Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Julio Cortázar was born in Brussels, Belgium, in 1914, during the German occupation. His Argentine parents were stationed there while his father was on the staff of a commercial mission. Cortázar’s antecedents came from the Basque region of Spain, as well as France and Germany, and they had settled in Argentina. When Cortázar was four years old, his parents returned to Argentina, where he would grow up in Banfield, a suburb of Buenos Aires. His father abandoned the family, and he was reared by his mother and an aunt.

Cortázar attended the Escuela Norman Mariano Acosta in Buenos Aires and earned a degree as a public-school teacher in 1932. In 1937, he accepted a high school teaching post and shortly thereafter published Presencia, a collection of poems, under the pseudonym Julio Denís. In 1940, he published an essay on Arthur Rimbaud, under the same pseudonym, and began to teach a class on the French Symbolist movement at the University of Cuyo in Mendoza. In 1946, Jorge Luis Borges, at that time the editor of the literary journal Anales de Buenos Aires, published “Casa tomada” (“House Taken Over”)—the first work that Julio Cortázar penned under his own name.

A writer with outspoken political beliefs, Cortázar was defiantly anti-Peronist. He was arrested and as a result was forced to relinquish his academic career in Argentina. Instead, however, he became a translator and, in 1951, went to Paris, where he...

(The entire section is 422 words.)

Julio Cortázar Biography (Survey of Novels and Novellas)

The fact that Julio Cortázar was born in Brussels, Belgium, rather than in Argentina was something of an accident, as his Argentine parents were then abroad on business. He learned French at about the same time he learned Spanish, and this international beginning colored most of his life. His paternal great-grandparents were from the Basque area of northern Spain; his maternal origins can be traced to Germany and France. The boy and his parents remained for several years in Europe, returning to Buenos Aires when he was about four years old. While Cortázar was still a boy in Argentina, his father abandoned the family; Julio was reared by his mother and aunt. He earned degrees in elementary, secondary, and preparatory education, and from 1937 to 1944, he worked as a high school teacher in Bolívar and Chivilcoy while simultaneously beginning to write short stories in his spare time. In 1938, his first collection of poems, Presencia, appeared under the pseudonym Julio Denís without receiving much critical attention.

In 1944, Cortázar began to teach French literature at the University of Cuyo, but his activism against the dictatorship of Juan Perón brought his arrest, with a subsequent resignation from his post at the university. He moved to Buenos Aires in 1946, obtaining the post of manager of the Argentine Publishing Association; while working there, he earned a degree as public translator. His dramatic poem Los reyes was published...

(The entire section is 506 words.)

Julio Cortázar Biography (Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

ph_0111207073-Cortazar.jpgJulio Cortázar Published by Salem Press, Inc.

Julio Cortázar (KOHR-tah-sahr) was born on August 26, 1914, in Brussels, Belgium, where his Argentine parents, Julio José and María Herminia (Descotte) Cortázar, were on business. When he was four years old, the family returned to Argentina to establish permanent residence in Banfield, a suburb of Buenos Aires. When he was still very young, Cortázar and the family were abandoned by his father; his mother and aunt reared him and his sister.

Cortázar earned a degree as a primary and secondary schoolteacher in 1935, but before finishing his first year of studies at the University of Buenos Aires, he left to take a position as a high school teacher, which he held until 1944. Presencia (1938), published under the pseudonym of Julio Denís, was his first publication. It is a collection of poems, a genre in which he was to work again in later years. From 1944 to 1945, he taught literature at the University of Cuyo in the province of Mendoza, where he was briefly imprisoned for participating in anti-Peronist demonstrations.

In 1946, he returned to Buenos Aires, where he worked as the manager of Cámara Argentina del Libro (the Argentine Publishing Association). After passing examinations in languages and law, he worked as a public translator from 1948 to 1951. In 1946, his first short story was published by Jorge Luis Borges. In 1951, he was awarded a scholarship by the French government to study in Paris. He left Argentina the same month that Bestiario (1951), his...

(The entire section is 616 words.)

Julio Cortázar Biography (Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

In theory and practice, Julio Cortázar seeks a total fictional renovation, not out of an eagerness for originality but out of necessity. This renovation consists of the destruction of character, situation, literary style, form, and language. His is an antiliterature that seeks to transgress the literary deed, the book. He wishes to open up the closed literary order—even to create disorder—to establish new perspectives.

Julio Cortázar Biography (Short Stories for Students)

Julio Cortázar was born in Belgium in 1914 and raised by his mother in a suburb of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Throughout his youth he...

(The entire section is 392 words.)

Julio Cortázar Biography (Short Stories for Students)

Cortazar was born to an Argentinian family living in Brussels, Belgium, in 1914. In 1918 he moved with his parents to their native Argentina....

(The entire section is 487 words.)