Julio Cortázar (August 26, 1914 – February 12, 1984), was an Argentine author who wrote many short stories and several novels. Although many of his greatest works were written during his time in France, he is considered one of the pinnacles of influence in the lives of many Latin American authors that followed him.
Cortázar was born as Jules Florencio Cortázar, in Brussels, Belgium, to Julio José Cortázar and María Herminia Descotte, both Argentine citizens that were working abroad in the region on business. At the age of four, his family returned to Buenos Aires. Although his parents had tried to patch up their fragile marriage, they separated soon after their return and finalized their divorce within three years. For still unexplained reasons, he was often He was frequently ill as a child and was rarely healthy enough to leave his assigned bed rest. Although his mom was officially a practicing Christian, she carefully selected what the young Cortázar read, and his early literary education consisted of almost entirely of science fiction and works of fantasy (most notably Jules Verne, whom Cortázar admired for the rest of his life).
Upon finishing high school, Cortázar completed the basic certificates, required by Argentine law at the time, to become a teacher. He began teaching basic philosophy, language, and literary criticism at several schools in nearby communities. Despite a lack of credentials and even basic fluency in the French language, the Argentine National University of Cuyo appointed him a full professor of French literature and French linguistics at the age of 30.
Exile to France
He lost his tenure after joining a protest against the government of Juan Perón, and after a brief incarceration in an Argentine prison, he was released and went into self-imposed exile in France. During his exile, he found work as a translator for UNESCO while he penned many of his works, virtually all of which were published in France. Cortázar struggled to maintain a marriage throughout his life in France, and he married and quickly divorced twice before marrying Carol Dunlop, who would remain his wife until his death in 1984.
Support for Socialism and Communism
Cortázar often fancied himself a supporter of human rights and the concepts of democracy, especially in Latin America; later in his life, however, he became an ardent and outspoken supporter of several virulently anti-democratic and Marxist movements in Latin America, including Fidel Castro's revolution in Cuba, the socialist Sandinista regime in Nicaragua, and Salvador Allende's dictatorship in Chile, all of which practiced widespread violations of human rights during their regimes. To show his solidarity and support for these movements, he donated many of the royalties of his novels and short stories to them. In his published work Nicaragua tan violentamente dulce, he harshly criticized the Contra freedom fighters resistance to the government of Daniel Ortega, as well as President Reagan for his support for the liberation of Nicaragua.
As a result of his childhood readings, the vast majority of Cortázar's short stories and novels occur in surreal and often horrific environments that trap their characters in supernatural situations beyond their control. In Latin American literature, he is often considered one of the founding influences on the style of magical realism, a literary genre where the author infuses normal, everyday situations and characters with bizarre, superstitions, and fantasy-type elements.
Note: This is not an exhaustive list, but rather a compilation of what he considered many of his more influential works.
- Rayuela (translated as Hopscotch)
- Los reyes
- El examen
- The Night Face Up
- Todos los fuegos el fuego
- Blow-up and Other Stories
- Final del juego
- Las armas secretas
- Around the Day in Eighty Worlds
- Save Twilight
- Papeles inesperados