Authors: Eduardo Mallea

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

Argentine novelist and short-story writer

Author Works

Long Fiction:

Nocturno europeo, 1935

Fiesta en noviembre, 1938 (Fiesta in November, 1942)

La bahía de silencio, 1940 (The Bay of Silence, 1944)

Todo verdor perecerá, 1941 (All Green Shall Perish, 1966)

El vínculo, Los Rembrandtes, La rosa de Cernobbio, 1946 (novellas)

Los enemigos del alma, 1950

Chaves, 1953 (English translation, 1966)

Simbad, 1957 (novella)

El resentimiento, 1966 (three novellas)

La penúltima puerta, 1969 (novella)

Gabriel Andaral, 1971 (novella)

Triste piel del universo, 1971 (novella)

Short Fiction:

Cuentos para una inglesa desesperada, 1926

La ciudad junto al río inmóvil, 1936

La sala de espera, 1953

Posesión, 1957

La barca de hielo, 1967


Conocimiento y expresión de la Argentina, 1935

Historia de una pasión argentina, 1937 (History of an Argentine Passion, 1983)

El sayal y la púrpura, 1946

Notas de un novelista, 1954

La vida blanca, 1960

Las Travesías, 1961-1962

La guerra interior, 1963

Poderío de la novela, 1965


Obras completas, 1961, 1965 (2 volumes)

La red, 1968


A descendant of the diplomat, author, and educator Sarmiento, Eduardo Mallea (mah-YAH-ah) was born on August 14, 1903, in desolate, wind-swept Bahía Blanca, Argentina, the setting for much of his writing. After his primary instruction by an Australian woman, his physician father took him to Buenos Aires, where he studied law until the sale of some children’s stories turned him to literature as a career. Some of his short stories were published in journals in the 1920’s. In 1926 his first collection of stories, the fantastic and frantic Cuentos para una inglesa desesperada (stories for a desperate Englishwoman), opened the way for a voyage to Europe and brought him in 1931 the literary editorship of La nación, Argentina’s most influential newspaper, in Buenos Aires. A lecture trip to Italy later resulted in Nocturno europeo, an example of his technique of using a slim fictional plot to tie together his ideas. It won for him the first of many literary prizes, which included the Primer Premio Nacional de Letras in 1945, the Forti Glori Prize in 1968, and the Gran Premio Nacional de las Artes in 1970. Mallea married Helena Muñóz Larreta in 1944.{$I[AN]9810001474}{$I[A]Mallea, Eduardo}{$I[geo]ARGENTINA;Mallea, Eduardo}{$I[tim]1903;Mallea, Eduardo}

His Historia de una pasión argentina (history of an Argentine passion), probably his most important essay, is the cornerstone of his credo. It includes many autobiographical elements, and its hero Adrian seeks relief for his tormented soul in the Confessions of Saint Augustine and in Spanish mysticism. Mallea’s confessed admiration for Marcel Proust, James Joyce, and Franz Kafka explains Mallea’s The Bay of Silence, the work which firmly established him as a modern novelist who expresses philosophical implications in a pungently lyrical style and who excels in descriptions of the city. The novel describes Martin Tregua as a student in Buenos Aires and portrays his relationship in Europe with the disillusioned, frustrated, married Gloria, with whom he finds solace. In Fiesta in November Mallea presents three complicated and temperamental women in a literary feat inspired by the execution of the Spanish poet Federico García Lorca at the outbreak of the Civil War. Between chapters about the useless rich of Buenos Aires, fearing suppression of liberty and thought, are sections of another story about soldiers murdering the liberal poet for having different ideas.

Stefan Zweig insisted that Mallea’s All Green Shall Perish should be published in Europe, and José Lins do Rego translated it into Portuguese for Brazilian readers. Ernest Hemingway and others recognized Mallea’s skill with words and ideas by including one of his representative works in the anthology The Best of the World (1950). Mallea tried to create a style typically Argentine; his portrayal of his characters, solitary souls in pain seeking freedom and self-expression, reveals his patriotic belief that his native land is a paradise even if the inhabitants possess many weaknesses.

BibliographyChapman, Arnold. “Terms of Spiritual Isolation in Eduardo Mallea.” Modern Language Forum 37 (1952): 21-27. An insightful study of Mallea’s use of metaphor.Dudgeon, Patrick. Eduardo Mallea: A Personal Study of His Work. Buenos Aires: Agonia, 1949. Brief but useful for its discussions of Fiesta in November and The Bay of Silence.Lewald, H. Ernest. Eduardo Mallea. Boston: Twayne, 1977. A sound introduction covering Mallea’s formative period, his handling of passion, his cosmopolitan spirit, his national cycle, and his last fictional works. Includes chronology, notes, and annotated bibliography.Lichtblau, Myron I. Introduction to History of an Argentine Passion, by Eduardo Mallea. Translated by Lichtblau. Pittsburgh: Latin American Literary Review Press, 1983. This introduction to the first English translation of a Mallea essay provides an excellent overview of his place in Spanish American fiction. Lichtblau includes an excellent bibliography.Polt, John H. The Writings of Eduardo Mallea. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1959. Polt discusses Mallea’s essays and fiction through the mid-1950’s. A thorough study.Shaw, Donald L. Introduction to Todo verdor perecerá, by Eduardo Mallea. Edited by Shaw. Oxford, England: Pergamon Press, 1968. Cited as an outstanding interpretation.Shaw, Donald L. “Narrative Technique in Mallea’s La bahía de silencio.” Symposium 20 (1966): 50-55. One of the few studies of this kind in English.Stabb, Martin S. In Quest of Identity: Patterns in the Spanish American Essay of Ideas, 1890-1960. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1967. Although Stabb devotes a section mainly to Mallea’s essays, his comments provide helpful background for the fiction as well.
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