Juan Rulfo Additional Biography


ph_0111228826-Rulfo.jpg Juan Rulfo Published by Salem Press, Inc.

Juan Rulfo (REWL-foh) was born in 1918 in Barranca de Apulco, a small town in the state of Jalisco, Mexico, and grew up in neighboring San Gabriel, a small town approximately three hundred miles northwest of Mexico City. Rulfo spent his entire life in various places in Mexico, including the cities of Guadalajara and Mexico City. The various locales and people of Mexico serve as the inspiration for Rulfo’s most important work, the short-story collection, El llano en llamas (1953, revised 1970 and 1980; The Burning Plain, and Other Stories, 1967), and his influential novel, Pedro Páramo (1955, revised 1959, 1964, 1980; English translation, 1959, 1994).

Rulfo’s early years were touched by family tragedy. His father, Juan Nepomuceno Perez Rulfo, was murdered during the Cristero Revolt, and his mother, Maria Vizaino Arias, died of a heart attack in 1927. Rulfo lived for a short time with his grandmother in Guadalajara, where he took advantage of her being the caretaker for the library of the local priest. He read voraciously in the collection of books, many of which were adventure stories, for which he developed a great fondness.

Rulfo was eventually sent to an orphanage in Guadalajara, where he studied accounting, and, at the age of fifteen, moved to Mexico City to study accounting, law, and literature at the university while living with an uncle. Shortly thereafter, without completing a degree, Rulfo was compelled by financial necessity to take a job at the Mexican immigration department, where he worked for more than ten years. During World War II, as part of...

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(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Although his output of work is small, Juan Rulfo produced two influential works, The Burning Plain and Pedro Páramo. Rulfo helped initiate the renaissance of Latin American literature by experimenting with techniques associated with European literary modernism and what would become Magical Realism. His portraits of the Mexican Indians of Jalisco come directly from the experiences of his early years growing up near San Gabriel and Guadalajara. Although the lives he depicts are rife with suffering and hopelessness, Rulfo combines rich experience, memory, and emotion into unique narratives told in sparse but poetic language.