Literature

Miguel Angel Asturias

(Guatemala, October 19, 1899 – Madrid, June 9, 1974) He was a Guatemalan writer, journalist and diplomat, who contributed to the development of the Latin-American literature, influenced in the occident culture and, at the same time, called attention over the importance of the native cultures, particularly, the ones from his country of birth. Even though Asturias was born and raised in Guatemala, he lived a great important part of his adulthood abroad. During his first stay in Paris, in the twentieth decade, he studied anthropology and native mythology. Some scientists consider him the first Latin-American novelist in showing how the study of anthropology and linguistics could influence in literature. In Paris, Asturias also associated to the surrealist movement. He was given the attribution of many characteristics of the modern style in Latin-American letters. As such, he was an important forerunner of the Latin-American boom of the sixties and seventies. In “El señor Presidente”, one of his most famous novels, Asturias describes life under the ruthless dictatorship of Manuel Estrada Cabrera, whose government in Guatemala was between 1898 and 1920. His public opposition to the tirany took him to the exile, mostly to South America and Europe. The novel “Hombres de Maiz”, which is described sometimes as his masterpiece, it’s a defense of the Mayan culture. Asturias synthesizes his extensive knowledge of the Mayan beliefs with his political convictions to channel both to a life of commitment and solidarity. His work is often identified with the social and moral aspirations of the Guatemalan population. After decades of exile and exclusion, Asturias finally obtained wide recognition in the sixties. In 1965 he won the Lenin Prize of Peace of the Soviet Union. Later in 1967 he received the Nobel Prize of Literature, becoming into the third American author not U.S. American in receiving this honor –after Gabriela Mistral in 1945 and Saint-John Perse in 1960- and the second Latin-American. Asturias spent his last years in Madrid, where he died at the age of 74. He was buried in the Cementery of Père Lachaise in Paris.