Literature History From 1810 To 1879

From 1810 to 1879 Within the panorama of Latin American letters, the origin of Argentine literature lacks the American Indian features distinguishing, for instance, those of Mexico and Peru. The earliest records are chronicles of foreign travelers: Ulrico Schmidel, Martín del Barco Centenera and Ruy Díaz de Guzmán. Luis de Tejeda, a disciple of Góngora and St. Juan de la Cruz, is the first Argentine poet.

In colonial or "viceroyal" times (pseudo-classical, baroque and epic), letters grow sheltered by the zeal of independence: Vicente López y Planes, Pantaleón Rivarola and Esteban de Luca. There appeared the first outlines of gauchesca: Bartolomé Hidalgo, Hilario Ascasubi and Estanislao del Campo, a native genre reaching its peak with Gaucho Martín Fierro, by José Hernández, which is representative of national feeling and spirit.

The break with Spanish tradition in favor of French romanticism supporting the return to popular sources and medieval past, allowed Esteban Echeverría, its main follower, to be the writer of the first local and realistic short story: El matadero (The Slaughterhouse), and of La cautiva (The Captive Woman), a poem where the Pampa setting is fundamental. A mature literature in intellectual and political terms started to flourish.

By mid-19th century, José Mármol publishes the first Argentine novel Amalia. While poetry diminishes its warlike mood and turns to the anecdotal and sentimental: Carlos Guido y Spano and Ricardo Gutiérrez, chronicles of manners: Vicente Fidel López, Lucio V. Mansilla and Juana Manuela Gorriti and historical accounts: Bartolomé Mitreand Domingo F. Sarmiento, are records of the spirit of national organization.