Luis Rafael Sánchez Biography


Luis Rafael Sánchez, born on November 17, 1936, spent his first sixteen years in Humacao, at that time a city of fewer than eight thousand people on the Humacao River near the ocean in eastern Puerto Rico. Born to working-class parents, Sánchez received his early education in the local schools of Humacao. In his early teens, he wanted to reconsider and reorder his concept of reality. To do this, he realized that he would need to write, so he started to perfect his writing skills.

In 1948, with the industrialization and urbanization of Puerto Rico, Sánchez’s parents moved to San Juan, where Luis attended secondary school and later the University of Puerto Rico at Río Piedras, majoring in theater studies. Here his two earliest plays were performed. The university fellowship that sent him to Columbia University made it possible for him to experience firsthand a broad spectrum of live, professional drama.

Upon graduation from the University of Puerto Rico, Sánchez acted in soap operas before he returned to the campus to teach theater studies in the university’s experimental high school. He attributes some of his facility in writing and in capturing the idiom of common people to his work in soap operas.

In the early 1960’s, the university offered to support Sánchez’s return to the United States to study for a master’s degree. He attended New York University, where he majored in Spanish literature, receiving the master of...

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(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

The success of his novel Macho Camacho’s Beat catapulted the Puerto Rican playwright, short-story writer, and essayist Luis Rafael Sánchez (SAHN-chehz) to international fame. Sánchez was born to a working-class family in a small coastal town in Puerto Rico. He went to San Juan to study theater at the University of Puerto Rico. For a time he moved back and forth between his native land and New York City. Sánchez spent a year at Columbia University, where he studied theater and creative writing. Later he returned to New York to pursue a master’s degree in Spanish literature at New York University. He began but did not complete his doctoral studies at Columbia University; he would receive his Ph.D. in 1973 from the University of Madrid. Since then he has taught Latin American and Spanish literature at the University of Puerto Rico, occasionally traveling and living abroad.

Sánchez began his writing career as a playwright. While there is some low-key experimentalism in his drama, typical of the Latin American scene of the 1960’s, the thrust of his works lies in social criticism, with heavy moralizing, rhetoric, and transparent allegories. His political stance is that of an independentista (represented by the left-wing intellectual elite proposing independence for his native island), which in the Puerto Rico of the late twentieth century had become inextricably entangled with upholding Fidel Castro’s Cuban Revolution of 1959 as the model for such independence.

The mastery of language and the hyperbolism employed in Farsa del amor compradito recall Ramón María del Valle-Inclán’s farcical esperpentos from the early twentieth century. This quality continues through the short stories En cuerpo de...

(The entire section is 725 words.)