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Esteban Echeverria was an Argentine poet, fiction writer, cultural promoter, and political activist who played a significant role in the development of Argentine literature, not only through his own writings but also through his organizational efforts. He was one of Latin America's most important Romantic authors.
Echeverria spent five decisive years in Paris (1825 to 1830), where he absorbed the spirit of the Romantic Movement, then in its heyday in France. He became one of the movement's promoters once he returned to Argentina. Once he returned to Buenos Aires, he wrote "Los Consuelos" in 1834 and "Pumas" in 1837. He was a member of the group of young Argentine intellectuals who in 1838 organized the Asociacion de Mayo . This institution aspired to develop a national literature responsive to the country's social and physical reality. Echeverria also devoted himself to the overthrow of the caudillo of Buenos Aires, Juan Manuel de Rosas. In 1840 he was forced to go into exile in nearby Uruguay, where he wrote La Insurreccion del Sur and El Matadero. He remained in Uruguay until his death in 1851.
Echeverria's renown as a writer rests largely on his powerful short story El matadero , a landmark in the history of Latin American literature. It is mostly significant because it displays the perceived clash between "civilization and barbarism", that is, between the European and the "primitive and violent" American ways. Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, another great Argentine writer and thinker, saw this clash as the core of Latin American culture. Read in this light, "The Slaughterhouse" is a political allegory. Its more specific intention was to accuse Rosas of protecting the kind of thugs who murder the cultivated young protagonist at the Buenos Aires slaughterhouse. Rosas and his henchmen stand for barbarism, the slain young man for civilization.
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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Esteban Echeverria