Who is Augusto Roa Bastos?

Augusto Roa Bastos
Categories : Spanish Literature
Augusto Roa Bastos
Who is Augusto Roa Bastos? 3

Augusto Roa Bastos

Augusto Roa Bastos was born on June 13, 1917, in Asunción, Paraguay, and passed away on April 26, 2005, in the same city. He was a renowned South American novelist, known for his skills as a storyteller, journalist, playwright, screenwriter, and poet. Roa Bastos spent over forty years living outside of Paraguay, in exile in Argentina and France. During his time in Buenos Aires, where he held various humble occupations, he wrote his most significant and essential works, including several collections of short stories and the novels “Hijo de hombre” and “Yo el Supremo.” In France, he taught the Guarani language and Paraguayan vernacular literature at the University of Toulouse-Le Mirail. He also engaged in other educational activities such as directing literary writing workshops, writing scripts for cinema, and conducting specialized courses on the theory and history of Latin American literature.

Roa Bastos received numerous awards throughout his career, including the Fellow of the British Council in 1944 and the prestigious Cervantes Prize in 1989. His journalistic works, which encompass travel chronicles, literary criticism, politics, and personal memoirs, have yet to be fully compiled into dedicated volumes.

Roa Bastos is widely recognized as the most prominent Paraguayan writer worldwide and one of the prominent figures in Latin American literature in the latter half of the 20th century. Starting with a traditional realistic technique, he skillfully incorporated elements of unconscious fantasy, magical practices rooted in popular religiosity, and oral traditions of sung ballads and anonymous tales. He experimented with writing in both Guarani and Spanish and explored translations between the two languages.

His major narratives revolve around significant events in Paraguayan history, such as the 18th-century Jesuit missions, the 19th-century War of the Triple Alliance, the Chaco War, and the 20th-century dictatorship. Roa Bastos achieved a delicate balance between documentary and fictional elements, constructing a highly personalized model of the historical novel.

Some of his well-known works include “The Thunder Between the Leaves” (1953), a collection of 17 short stories that depict the social and political issues afflicting his impoverished homeland, one of the poorest countries in South America. Other notable works include “Son of Man” (1960, winner of the Losada Novel Prize), “The Wasteland” (1966), “I, the Supreme” (1974, a novelized account of José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia’s dictatorial rule in Paraguay from 1814 to 1840), “Vigil of the Admiral” (1992), “Contravida” (1994), and “Madama Sui” (1996). Roa Bastos participated in the literary trend of “magical realism” in Spanish America, alongside authors like Alejo Carpentier and Gabriel García Márquez, addressing the subject of the cruel repressions endured by the peoples of South America.

Famous Writers Around the World https://www.britannica.com/biography/Augusto-Roa-Bastos

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