Critical Overview

(Short Stories for Students)

Cortazar is generally acknowledged as one of the most important authors of the mid-century literary "boom" in Latin and Central America. A handful of writers, among them Jorge Luis Borges (Argentina), Alejo Carpentier (Cuba), Mario Vargas Llosa (Peru), Jose Donoso (Chile), Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Colombia), and Carlos Fuentes (Mexico), brought Latin American literature to international prominence in a span of less than thirty years in a literary flowering that has not been matched in Spanish literature since the "Siglo de Oro" (the golden century—the seventeenth).

The history of the critical reception of ''Axolotl'' is similar to that of Cortazar's other stories and novels: an immediate popular success, followed by a delay of some years by critical success. Enrique Anderson Imbert, a fellow Argentinian writer and critic, thought Cortazar's early stories, such as "Axolotl," which is now considered to be one of his best, were unsuccessful and disappointing. When "Axolotl'' was translated and published in English in 1967, American readers enjoyed its idiosyncratic style and bizarre elements, but again critics were not initially impressed In the 1980s and 1990s, however, critical interest grew.

Like most of the other members of the "boom," Cortazar was deeply involved in politics. In many instances, politics has been as important as aesthetics in determining an author's reception in Latin America, and Cortazar's case is as complex as any. In the...

(The entire section is 369 words.)