Martín Tregua is an aspiring writer in Buenos Aires who believes that he has to enjoy life to the fullest to improve his literary craft. Although he is an aloof young man and a newcomer to the city, he is constantly surrounded by young people who enjoy the active night life of Buenos Aires as he does. His favorite pastime is to take long walks through the city, which exerts a passionate attraction over him that he cannot understand.
Martín lives in a boardinghouse, where he meets his best friends: Jiménez, a government bureaucrat, and Anselmi, a law student. Another resident is Doctor Dervil, a well-read intellectual who engages Martín in philosophical arguments on the purpose of life. Mercedes Miró is another close friend, a rich woman who gives Martín opportunities to meet interesting people from the Argentine upper classes.
Martín’s life changes on the day he sees a woman come into a flower shop as he is finishing a purchase. He dares not speak to her, although her striking beauty and her absentminded manner cause him to remember having seen her thirteen years earlier, shortly after his arrival in Buenos Aires as a law student. On that day he fell in love with her beauty and followed her home. Eventually he found out her name and other information: She was well-born but married a poor lawyer in rebellion against her family. Her husband became rich, however, through dubious financial arrangements with international investors.
Unable to concentrate on writing his novel but eager to keep busy, Martín joins Jiménez and Anselmi in publishing a newspaper for radical young people. Other young intellectuals join the group, which becomes quite heterogeneous, and their newspaper, El Navío (the ship), achieves great success. The newspaper opens doors in the intellectual world of Buenos Aires to Martín. This comes at a very good time because Mercedes Miró, with whom Martín is in love, asks that he stop seeing her. As...
(The entire section is 803 words.)