Two elements play significant roles in Horacio Quiroga’s life and also frequently find their way into some of the writer’s most famous stories. These two elements are tragic violence and the Uruguayan author’s fascination with the jungle-filled Misiones region of northern Argentina. The first of these elements, tragic violence, punctuates Quiroga’s life—so much so, in fact, that were his biography offered as fiction, it would almost certainly be roundly criticized for being unbelievable, for no one’s life, in the real world, could be so tragically violent, especially when a good portion of said violence comes through accident. The author’s fascination with the harsh jungles of Misiones cost him at least one wife and possibly a second in real life, while this unforgiving environment provided him at the same time with the setting and thematic point of departure for many of his most famous stories.
Horacio Silvestre Quiroga y Forteza was born on December 31, 1878, in El Salto, Uruguay, the youngest of four children born to Prudencio Quiroga and Pastora Forteza. Three months after Horacio’s birth, don Prudencio was killed when his hunting rifle went off accidentally as he was stepping from a boat. Quiroga’s mother, doña Pastora, ashore with infant son Horacio in her arms, witnessed the tragic event and fainted, dropping her son to the ground. Later the same year, doña Pastora moved the family to the Argentine city of Córdoba. She...
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