José Hernández (ehr-NAHN-days), Argentine poet, soldier, political office holder, and champion of minorities, was born at the Estancia Pueyrredón, province of Buenos Aires, on November 10, 1834; he died in Belgrano on October 21, 1886. He lacked the education of other Argentine writers such as Bartolomé Hidalgo, Estanislao del Campo, and Hilario Ascasubi, who are important figures in Gauchesque literature, because illness halted his formal education. Yet he was the poet read by the gauchos about whom he wrote. The unprecedented success of his narrative poem was such that in less than two years there were eight printings of it. However, sixty thousand copies of the first part of his epic poem, The Gaucho Martin Fierro, were sold before he could persuade himself to go on with its sequel. Country pulperías stocked copies, along with other essentials such as tobacco and food, for the cattle herders to purchase and read around their campfires. Hernández was an active participant in the delicate political situation of Argentina prior to the period of national organization and, later, he was an active opponent of the oligarchical interests of the ruling class. He was so closely identified with his work that as the robust, bearded man strode along Buenos Aires streets, people addressed him as “Don Martín.”
The first part of The Gaucho Martin Fierro introduces the image of an individual whose family life is destroyed by the political...
(The entire section is 441 words.)