From the Shelf | The tragic and unfortunate life of Horacio Quiroga – El Sol de México

Tragic, equal to or much more than the stories he imagined, this was the life of the Uruguayan modernist writer Horacio Quiroga, author of the classic book cstories of love, madness and death (1917), who was born precisely on December 31, like today, but in 1878. His work, marked by horror and suffering, was so important for Latin American literature that he was compared to the tormented North American writer Edgar Alan Poe. .

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Even his friend, writer Ezequiel Martínez Estradahe once wrote, in a book that compiles the correspondence that both would maintain until the end of their days: “There is in his biography, I said, a unity of destiny that gives each episode a perspective and a resonance constellated with ominous memories. […] Such was the dramatic substance of his fate, that it is easy and even tempting to turn his biography into a mournful and exciting novel.

And the loss was presented to him very early, when, even when he was a month-old baby, his father, the Argentine vice-consul in Salto (the city where he was born), Facundo Quiroga, shot himself in front of his family in a hunting accident. Perhaps he was too young for that image to have left an imprint on his memory, but his fate had already inaugurated a trail of death that would extend even beyond the life of the creator of the terrifying story. The feather pillow.

If you don’t believe it, just imagine Quiroga Years later, as a teenager of between 16 or 17 years old – his mother, Pastora Forteza, had already remarried – by chance entering the room of his stepfather, Asencio Barcos, semi-paralyzed and mute due to a stroke, to see him commit suicide with a shotgun that he manipulated with his feet to shoot himself in the mouth.

Although a good student, with a great interest in philosophy, literature, chemistry, photography and cyclingto the extent that he collaborated in important publications such as Magazine and The Reforma, in love he did not do well either, since his first love with María Esther Jurkovskile was prohibited by her parents, for not being Jewish. That relationship would result in two novels: a season of love and The sacrificedpublished in 1917 and 1920.

At the age of 18, after having founded the Jump Magazinein 1899, with the inheritance that fell to him, Quiroga went to Paris, a city to which he traveled first class, to discover its cosmopolitan greatness—the epicenter and cultural example in the 19th century—but he also found its sadness, which he would capture in its Paris travel diary. This would be a trip from which he would return in rags and with a very bushy beard, which is what we have left of his memory, on a third class trip.

Not everything was misfortune during the first years of that new century, upon his return from Paris, Quiroga He founded several literary circles and obtained important collaborations with his short stories, publications, and even settled in Argentina, where he would meet and establish a great friendship with the writer Leopoldo Lugones—with whom he would make an expedition to the Misiones jungle as a photographer—and publish his first book. coral reefsin 1901. But that “stability” would be marred by the death of his brothers, Prudencio and Pastora, both from typhoid.

As if that were not enough, Quiroga would have to bear the blame for the death of his friend Federico Ferrando, whom he accidentally murdered while trying to check and clean his partner’s weapon, before fighting a duel with a journalist who had killed him. criticized badly. He was arrested, but luckily, four days later Horacio was released.

In a period of notable fame, when he was a teacher at the National School of Buenos Aires, he published his book of stories The crime of another, in 1904, strongly influenced by the work of Poe. He also wrote several short stories and the novel The persecutedborn from his experience with Lugones and was a collaborator of the prestigious magazine Faces and masks.

Quiroga had a close relationship with the jungle, so in 1906 he returned to Misiones, where two years later he built a property, inside which he formed a family with his first wife, a student of his, Ana María Cires. With her he had two children, Eglé and Darío, whom he educated in a peculiar way, making them aware of the dangers of the jungle from a very young age. It’s a shame that that land of light was overshadowed by the suicide of Ana María, who ingested chemicals to develop photographs and whose agony was veiled by the writer himself.

Already at the peak of his career, after several comings and goings between Buenos Aires and Misiones, and after having a second marriage, he also published other famous books such as his collection of stories Tales from the jungle, and he fathered another daughter, María Elena, with whom he decided to live in the jungle in 1932.

Quiroga’s decline began when the government, for which he worked as a justice of the peace, gave him notice that his services were no longer required. Several of his friends made requests and processed his retirement in Argentina. But it was in 1935, the same year he published his book Beyondwho began to experience problems urinating and great pain, after several tests it was determined that the writer had very advanced prostate cancer.

It was then that they admitted him to the Hospital de Clínicas de Buenos Aires, one of the best of his time in the region. There, Quiroga continued corresponding with Ezequiel Martínez, a friend whom he considered his brother, along with the poet Alfonsina Storni, with whom it is said he had a great romance. It is said that during his last days, Quiroga learned of the presence of a patient who remained captive, named Vicente Batistessa, who suffered from a strange disease that had caused great deformities, like that of Josep Merrick, the “Elephant Man”, for so he asked to be released so he could meet him and they became friends.

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It was in front of that figure that Quiroga Tormented by pain, he decided to go ahead by ingesting cyanide on February 17, 1937. His death caused a commotion and he was laid to rest in the House of the Theater of the Argentine Society of Writers, to later be repatriated to Uruguay. Unfortunately the death story did not end there, since his three children also committed suicide.

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