Ernesto Sábato Biography


Ernesto Sábato (SAH-bah-toh) emerged from the Argentine pampas to examine his nation’s character and to explore the existential crisis of modern humanity. He was born on June 24, 1911, in Rojas, Argentina, where his Italian immigrant parents owned the local flour mill. One of the searing events in Sábato’s life came in 1924, when his parents sent him to La Plata to attend secondary school. Torn from his community and large family, Sábato suffered a nervous collapse. He regained stability by immersing himself in the orderly world of mathematics and science. In 1929 he entered the Institute of Physics at the National University of La Plata, where he became involved with anarchist and communist student groups. In 1934 he attended a student communist congress in Brussels, Belgium, and once more fell into mental despondency. He fled to Paris, again finding peace by immersing himself in science. He returned to La Plata, completed his doctorate in 1937, and received a fellowship to study with French physicist Irène Joliot-Curie. After his time in France, he spent a year at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1940 he accepted professorships in theoretical physics at schools in La Plata and Buenos Aires.

Although science had provided him with needed mental stability, Sábato came to believe that humanity’s desire to rest its physical, mental, and spiritual well-being on science and reason had led to disaster. Thus, he left science by using his teaching positions to finance his literary apprenticeship, served by writing regularly for Sur and La Nación. In 1945 the dictator Juan Perón, offended by...

(The entire section is 672 words.)


Ernesto Sábato was born on June 24, 1911, in the small Argentine town of Rojas in the territory of La Pampa. Rojas is located some 180 miles southwest of Buenos Aires. Both his father and his mother were Italian immigrants; his mother, with whom he had a close relationship, was from an old and distinguished Italian family. The family business was a small flour mill that earned for the Sábatos enough money to take care of their family of eleven children. This large group of children resulted in a family life that was characterized by discipline and obedience. In 1929, Sábato entered the National University of La Plata as a student of science. In 1934, he married Matilde Kusminsky, a fellow student. He obtained a doctorate in physics from the same school in 1937.

Sábato’s university days also introduced him to the violent political controversies that are characteristic of Argentina. In 1934, Sábato went to an antifascist congress in Brussels as a representative of the Young Communists of Argentina. The plan for the trip included a stay in Moscow for the delegates in order for them to receive further instruction in Communist ideology. Disillusioned with the idea that Communism could solve social problems, Sábato left the group and went, alone and without resources, to Paris, where he was dependent on charity until some Venezuelan students took him in.

Sábato returned to the University in Argentina and, after completing his doctorate in 1937, took a job in Paris at the Curie Laboratory, where he worked with Irène Joliot-Curie. While occupied with his work on radiation theory, he was also intensely...

(The entire section is 666 words.)