The fact that Julio Cortázar was born in Brussels, Belgium, rather than in Argentina was something of an accident, as his Argentine parents were then abroad on business. He learned French at about the same time he learned Spanish, and this international beginning colored most of his life. His paternal great-grandparents were from the Basque area of northern Spain; his maternal origins can be traced to Germany and France. The boy and his parents remained for several years in Europe, returning to Buenos Aires when he was about four years old. While Cortázar was still a boy in Argentina, his father abandoned the family; Julio was reared by his mother and aunt. He earned degrees in elementary, secondary, and preparatory education, and from 1937 to 1944, he worked as a high school teacher in Bolívar and Chivilcoy while simultaneously beginning to write short stories in his spare time. In 1938, his first collection of poems, Presencia, appeared under the pseudonym Julio Denís without receiving much critical attention.
In 1944, Cortázar began to teach French literature at the University of Cuyo, but his activism against the dictatorship of Juan Perón brought his arrest, with a subsequent resignation from his post at the university. He moved to Buenos Aires in 1946, obtaining the post of manager of the Argentine Publishing Association; while working there, he earned a degree as public translator. His dramatic poem Los reyes was published...
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