Julio Cortázar Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

ph_0111207073-Cortazar.jpg Julio Cortázar Published by Salem Press, Inc.

Julio Cortázar (cohr-TAH-sahr), unquestionably one of the pivotal figures in Latin American literature, is a master of the short story, and his novel Hopscotch is widely considered to be one of the first great Spanish American novels. Born in Belgium to Julio José and María Descotte de Cortázar, Cortázar learned French along with his native Spanish, and his French-Argentine duality underlies all his work. His father abandoned the family soon after they returned to Argentina in 1920, and Julio was brought up by his mother and aunt. After earning degrees in primary and secondary education, with a concentration in literature, he first taught high school in several small towns and in Mendoza. He then taught French literature at the University of Cuyo, but his agitation against the Peronist regime led to his arrest and his subsequent forced resignation from the university. During his teaching years he wrote steadily but, dissatisfied with the quality of his work, refused to publish anything other than the collection of poems Presencia (presence), which appeared in 1938 under the pseudonym Julio Denís, and the long philosophic-dramatic poem Los reyes (the kings), which appeared in 1949 under his own name, as did a few magazine stories. It was fellow author Jorge Luis Borges, with whose work Cortázar’s has often been compared, who published his compatriot’s first story, “House Taken Over,” in the journal Los Anales de Buenos Aires.{$S[A]Denís, Julio;Cortázar, Julio}

Oppressed by the political and literary atmosphere of his native land, Cortázar took advantage of a scholarship from the French government to study in Paris. He left Argentina in 1951 to settle permanently in Paris, where he earned his living working as a freelance translator and for the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). In 1953 Cortázar married the Argentinian Aurora Bernardez, who was also a freelance translator. The year 1951 marked the official start of Cortázar’s literary career with the publication of Bestiario (bestiary), his first collection of short stories. Bestiario contains Cortázar’s trademark signature, the gradual intrusion of a mysterious subversive element into the lives of ordinary people. Rarely is this force seen as an instrument of good, or at least liberating change; rather, it serves as an obsessive harbinger of destruction and death. (Julio Cortázar is the Spanish translator of the collected works of Edgar Allan Poe.)

Cortázar’s next volume of short stories, End of the Game, and Other Stories, contains some of his best prose. Stories such as “Axolotl” and “The Night Face Up” have...

(The entire section is 1114 words.)


(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Julio Cortázar was born in Brussels, Belgium, in 1914, during the German occupation. His Argentine parents were stationed there while his father was on the staff of a commercial mission. Cortázar’s antecedents came from the Basque region of Spain, as well as France and Germany, and they had settled in Argentina. When Cortázar was four years old, his parents returned to Argentina, where he would grow up in Banfield, a suburb of Buenos Aires. His father abandoned the family, and he was reared by his mother and an aunt.

Cortázar attended the Escuela Norman Mariano Acosta in Buenos Aires and earned a degree as a public-school teacher in 1932. In 1937, he accepted a high school teaching post and shortly thereafter published Presencia, a collection of poems, under the pseudonym Julio Denís. In 1940, he published an essay on Arthur Rimbaud, under the same pseudonym, and began to teach a class on the French Symbolist movement at the University of Cuyo in Mendoza. In 1946, Jorge Luis Borges, at that time the editor of the literary journal Anales de Buenos Aires, published “Casa tomada” (“House Taken Over”)—the first work that Julio Cortázar penned under his own name.

A writer with outspoken political beliefs, Cortázar was defiantly anti-Peronist. He was arrested and as a result was forced to relinquish his academic career in Argentina. Instead, however, he became a translator and, in 1951, went to Paris, where he...

(The entire section is 422 words.)