Gaucho Literature Criticism: Major Works - Essay

Jefferson Rea Spell (essay date 1944)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Spell, Jefferson Rea. “Ricardo Güiraldes: Stylistic Depictor of the Gaucho.” In Contemporary Spanish-American Fiction, pp. 191-204. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1944.

[In the following essay, Spell examines Ricardo Güiraldes's Don Segundo Sombra, a book he believes to have achieved its popular acclaim through its accurate depictions of gaucho life and vernacular.]

The most distinctive of all Spanish-American literature—the literature linked most directly with the country and the people—is the so-called “gaucho” literature of the River Plate region. Pioneers of this type of literature were three long narrative...

(The entire section is 4795 words.)

Henry Alfred Holmes (essay date 1948)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Holmes, Henry Alfred. “Introduction to Martín Fierro: The Argentine Gaucho Epic by José Hernández.” In Martín Fierro: The Argentine Gaucho Epic by José Hernández, translated with an introduction by Henry Alfred Holmes, pp. XVIII-XXXVI. New York: Hispanic Institute in the United States, 1948.

[In the following introduction to his translation of Hernández's Martín Fierro, Holmes summarizes the narrative poem and concludes that Hernández attempted to link the gaucho to three different states: the lands, the heavens and his fellow man.]


His origin is as striking as everything else about him. In the...

(The entire section is 4264 words.)

Giovanni Previtali (essay date 1963)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Previtali, Giovanni. “Works of Ricardo Güiraldes.” In Ricardo Güiraldes and Don Segundo Sombra: Life and Works, pp. 143-57. New York: Hispanic Institute in the United States, 1963.

[In the following essay, Previtali explains Güiraldes's motivations and aims in writing Don Segundo Sombra as being from a need to capture and romanticize the disappearing gaucho culture.]


Two tales are introduced into the novel as separate narrative units. They are told by don Segundo. The first, which appears in Chapter XII, is the story of Dolores and the son of the Devil. Dolores, a young paisano, fell in love with a...

(The entire section is 4454 words.)

Richard W. Slatta (essay date 1983)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Slatta, Richard W. “Man to Myth: Literary and Symbolic Images.” In Gauchos and the Vanishing Frontier, pp. 180-92. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1983.

[In the following essay, Slatta demonstrates how Hernández's Martín Fierro and similar works sought to humanize the gaucho tradition in the eyes of the general public after having been tainted by the writings of Domingo Faustino Sarmiento.]

Gauchos disappeared as a recognizable social group in the last third of the nineteenth century, but literary and symbolic evocations persisted into the twentieth. Sarmiento had shaped the negative attitudes of many Argentines toward the gaucho with his...

(The entire section is 5859 words.)

Dalia Kandiyoti (essay date spring 1998)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Kandiyoti, Dalia. “Comparative Diasporas: The Local and the Mobile in Abraham Cahan and Alberto Gerchunoff.” Modern Fiction Studies 44, no. 1 (spring 1998): 77-79, 95-122.

[In the following essay, Kandiyoti compares two works of Jewish immigration fiction: Abraham Cahan's Yekl and Alberto Gerchunoff's Los Gauchos Judios, and with the section on Gerchunoff, she considers how regional politics and nationalism influenced his writing.]

Recently proliferating theories and politics of migration and diaspora have focused on issues of assimilation, nativism, and nationalism without sufficient consideration of one important concept: the discourse of...

(The entire section is 10198 words.)

Gwen Kirkpatrick (essay date 1988)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Kirkpatrick, Gwen. “Cultural Identity, Tradition, and the Legacy of Don Segundo Sombra.” In Ricardo Güiraldes: Don Segundo Sombra, pp. 477-90. Paris, France: Colección Archivos, 1988.

[In the following essay, Kirkpatrick relates the importance of Ricardo Güiraldes's Don Segundo Sombra to Argentine literature and the initial climate into which it was published.]

Regret, nostalgia, dreams of history and of literature—these are the topics Jorge Luis Borges evoked in his remembrance of Don Segundo Sombra, twenty-six years after its publication in 1926. Borges, so skeptical of nationalistic exaltations of “Americanism” or...

(The entire section is 5238 words.)

Edna Aizenberg (essay date 2000)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Aizenberg, Edna. “Introduction” In Partricide on the Pampas? A New Study and Translation of Alberto Gerchunoff's ‘Los Gauchos Judios’, pp. 11-32. Madrid, Spain: Vervuert Iberoamericana, 2000.

[In the following introduction to her detailed examination of Los Gauchos Judios, Aizenberg provides a historical perspective to the events surrounding the period from which this book arose, as well as a critical appraisal into its textual components.]

I pick up The Jewish Gauchos once again. I reread the book, nostalgically reliving each of its pages. I see my father's comments written in the margins, and my comments under his. So...

(The entire section is 5405 words.)

Caleb Bach (essay date September-October 2002)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Bach, Caleb. “Poet of Shadows on the Pampa.” Américas 54, no. 5 (September-October 2002): 14-21.

[In the following essay, Bach explores the biography of Don Segundo Sombra by examining its author, Ricardo Güiraldes, and its inspiration, Segundo Ramirez.]

No one could forget his courtesy; it was the unsought, first form of his kindness, the lasting measure of a soul clear as the day. Nor can I forget his bizarre serenity, the fine, strong face, the lights of glory and of death. His hand questioning the guitar as in the pure dream of a mirror (You are reality and I its reflection). I see you conversing with us in Quintana. You are...

(The entire section is 3990 words.)