Eduardo Barrios Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Eduardo Hudtwalcker Barrios (BAHR-yohs), who wrote about many facets of abnormal psychology, had a varied background. His father, a Chilean army officer, died when Eduardo was a small boy; Eduardo’s Peruvian mother then took him to her native country, and he spent his childhood there. When he was fifteen, he was sent to a military school in Chile, but he had no desire to follow in his father’s footsteps and, after running away from the school, began a series of haphazardly chosen occupations. Among other things, he worked as a bookkeeper in a Chilean nitrate mine, as a rubber worker in Peru, as a weight lifter in a circus, and as a traveling salesman selling stoves in Buenos Aires. During this period, he found time to study the humanities in Chile and Peru, and for a time he lived in a Franciscan monastery. These formative years, strikingly reminiscent in themselves of a picaresque novel, furnished Barrios with an inexhaustible fund of themes and with the broad experience of humanity essential to psychological insight.

His literary career began with a volume of short stories that was printed in Iquique, Chile. Becoming interested in the theater, he wrote several plays, among them a satire on bureaucracy, Por el decoro (for the good of the office); several fantasies, the first of which was Lo que niega la vida (what life denies); and Vivir (to live), a psychological tragedy that many consider to be his best play. By this...

(The entire section is 536 words.)


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Brown, James. “El hermano asno: When the Unreliable Narrator Meets the Unreliable Reader.” Hispania 71, no. 4 (December, 1988): 798-805. In-depth study of the literary techniques displayed in Brother Ass. Stresses the relationship between the reader and the novel’s narrator. Discusses the use of irony in the plot.

Davison, Ned J. Eduardo Barrios. New York: Twayne, 1970. A standard biography from Twayne’s World Authors series.

Foster, David William, and Virginia Ramos Foster. “Barrios, Eduardo.” In Modern Latin American Literature, edited by David William Foster and Virginia Ramos Foster. New York: Frederick Ungar, 1975. A survey study of Barrios’s work. Provides excerpts of critical studies by various critics. An excellent starting point.

Souza, Raymond. “Indeterminacy of Meaning in El hermano asno.” Chasqui 13, nos. 2/3 (February-May, 1984): 26-32. An in-depth analysis of Barrios’s literary craft and the treatment of rape as a literary motif. Focuses on women’s issues.

Walker, John. “Gálvez, Barrios, and the Metaphysical Malaise.” Symposium: A Quarterly Journal in Modern Foreign Literatures 36, no. 4 (Winter, 1982/1983): 352-358. Comparative study of Barrios and novelist Manuel Gálvez; both authors were interested in metaphysical subjects. Stresses their interest in metaphysical issues as ways to improve contemporary society.

Walker, John. Metaphysics and Aesthetics in the Works of Eduardo Barrios. London: Támesis Books, 1983. Studies the relationship between Barrios’s novels and his strong interest in metaphysics.