Critical Evaluation

(Critical Survey of Literature, Revised Edition)

STONE DESERT—translated from the original DESIERTA DE PIEDRA in 1928—has been for Latin American readers a favorite among the thirty-two titles written by this most prolific of Argentine novelists. Afraid that his origins in Cordoba might handicap his sales, Gustavo Adolfo Martinez Zuviria hid his identity under a pen name when he published his first novel in 1911. Since that time his books, written under the name of Hugo Wast, have sold more than two million copies, with some three hundred editions in Spanish and seventy others in translation. In STONE DESERT, Marcela speaks for the writer when she voices her opinion that a return to nature is the best cure for decadent city life. The novel also expresses the author’s belief that the hope for Argentina lies in the toil of hardworking immigrants, combined with a change in the attitude of the country’s easygoing, wasteful citizens.

Although not considered Wast’s best novel, STONE DESERT is remarkable for the number of themes that it handles well. One such theme has rarely been treated elsewhere in Latin American novels; namely, the alleged economic superiority of foreign immigrants to Latin America over the natives. This allegation is heard from Southern Brazil (where Italians, Portuguese, Japanese, Germans, Poles, and Lebanese have shown notable energy), to Venezuela (where Italians, Spaniards, and Portugese have done the same), to Uruguay and Argentina, where...

(The entire section is 475 words.)