Martínez Estrada, Ezequiel

▪ Argentine author
born September 14, 1895, San José de la Esquina, Argentina
died November 3, 1964, Bahía Blanca

      leading post- Modernismo Argentine writer who influenced many younger writers.

      Martínez Estrada worked for 30 years (1916–46) at the Buenos Aires post office while also teaching initially in a preparatory school and later at the university there. Mostly self-taught, he began his literary career with essays in the journal Nosotros (“We”) (1917). His first book of poems, Oro y piedra (1918; “Gold and Stone”), was followed by Nefelibal (1922), Motivos del cielo (1924; “Heaven's Reasons”), Argentina (1927), and Humoresca (1929). These displayed very complex techniques. Language and imagery are often tinted with humour, conveying a satirical view reminiscent of Francisco Gómez de Quevedo y Villegas (Quevedo y Villegas, Francisco Gómez de), the master satirist of Spain's Golden Age.

      His view of the political and economic crises of the early 1930s and of what he saw as factors contributing to moral and social decay in Argentina led him to write Radiografía de la pampa (1933; X-Ray of the Pampa), a comprehensive psychological study of the Argentine character laden with fatalistic overtones. La cabeza de Goliat: Microscopía de Buenos Aires (1940; “The Head of Goliath: A Microscopic Study of Buenos Aires”) treats the people of Buenos Aires and continues the themes of Radiografía.

      Among the works that made Martínez Estrada a respected critic are Martín Fierro, Muerte y transfiguración del Martín Fierro, 2 vol. (1948; “The Death and Transfiguration of Martin Fierro”), El mundo maravilloso de Guillermo Enrique Hudson (1951; “The Wonderful World of Guillermo Enrique Hudson”), and El hermano Quiroga (1957; “Brother Quiroga”). From 1960 to 1962 he worked with the Cuban government publishing house Casa de las Américas. In 1988 selected short stories by Martínez Estrada were published as Holy Saturday and Other Stories.

Additional Reading
Studies of Martínez Estrada include Peter G. Earle, Prophet in the Wilderness (1971); Astur Morsella, Martínez Estrada (1973), in Spanish; and James Maharg, A Call to Authenticity: The Essays of Ezequiel Martínez Estrada (1977).

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Universalium. 2010.

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