Rubén Darío’s life was adventurous and bohemian. He traveled constantly in Europe and the Americas, renowned for his literary achievements but dogged by debt, sickness, and alcoholism throughout his life.
Darío was born Félix Rubén García Sarmiento in 1867 to a poor, part-Indian family in rural Nicaragua. He published his first poem at the age of thirteen, and his early promise as a poet won for him scholarships that enabled him to gain an education.
In 1886, Darío left Nicaragua for Santiago, Chile. There, he suffered a life of severe poverty and wrote in obscurity until the publication of Azul. Through Darío’s friend Pedro Balmaceda, the son of Chile’s president, Azul came to the attention of Juan Valera, a Spanish critic attentive to South American literature. Valera published an encouraging review in Spain and Latin America in 1889, but although this brought Darío literary recognition, it did little to ease his poverty. In the same year, the poet returned to Central America, where his writing in literary journals and other periodicals won regional fame for him.
In 1892, Darío traveled to Europe as an assistant to a relative who was an official of the Nicaraguan government. He made his first visits to Madrid and to Paris, developing a lifelong love for the artistic communities of Europe. On his return to Central America, Darío called on Rafael Nuñez, a former president of Colombia, who was,...
(The entire section is 556 words.)
Rubén Darío (dah-REE-oh), born Féliz Rubén García Sarmiento in Metapa (now Cuidad Darío), Nicaragua, on January 18, 1867, shaped a revitalized Spanish literature. He began life in poverty, a circumstance that would beset him all his life. The marriage between his mother, Rosa Sarmiento, and Manuel García soon ended, and their son was adopted by his mother’s aunt Bernarda Sarmiento de Ramírez and her husband Colonel Félix Ramírez of Léon, Nicaragua. The boy began writing verses in primary school. He studied Greek and Latin in a Jesuit school, but when economic difficulties prohibited more formal education he learned on his own, reading widely and voraciously. At age fourteen, the young writer adopted the name Rubén Darío and so impressed the Nicaraguan president with his poems that he was offered educational support.
The offer of formal education financed by the government never materialized, but this limitation did not stop Darío. Throughout his life he thrived on intellectual kinships. As an adolescent he was introduced to the occult by an early teacher. He read Ecuadorian writer Juan Montalvo, sharing with him hope for the reestablishment of a Central American union. Through acquaintance with El Salvadorian writer Francisco Gavidia, he discovered the French Romantic and Parnassian writers. Later he read the French Symbolists, American writers Walt Whitman and Edgar Allan Poe, and other Modernista writers. With these writers, he felt a sense of alienation from the newly prosperous and materialist Latin Americans and would work to develop a new Spanish discourse.
In 1884, he accepted an appointment to the secretarial staff of the Nicaraguan president in Managua and contributed articles and reviews to local periodicals. In 1885, he took a position at the National Library in Managua that enabled him to read the Spanish classics. In 1887, he moved to Chile after discovering that his sweetheart, Rosario Murillo, had become involved with another man.
In Chile, Darío became a customs inspector. He won a poetry competition for his Canto épico a las glorias de Chile (1888), a poem...
(The entire section is 877 words.)