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Lugones, Leopoldo

Entry updated 31 August 2018. Tagged: Author.

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Working name of Argentine teacher, journalist and author Leopoldo Lugones Argüello (1874-1938), a central figure in the early twentieth century development of sf in that country; he was an extremely early Modernist – Spanish American Modernism flourished circa 1880-1920 – a movement whose goal was to integrate the variegated literatures of Latin America into the dominant European tradition, without losing the autonomy of the native: a task which, if successfully accomplished, would create a self-reflective autonomy in traditions that had previously not had the world in mind. Beyond that general focus, Lugones's interest in Theosophy may have provided him with a model in which a Myth of Origin could be conceived as a secret history of the world. Those stories assembled in Las fuerzas extrañas (coll 1906; rev 1926; trans Gilbert Alter-Gilbert as Strange Forces 2001) which do not focus directly on exposing this history do, all the same, sometimes extravagantly expose the psychic and philosophical cruces endemic to a sophisticated urban country like Argentina country experiencing radical modernization. The most remarkable story in the volume may be "Yzur", an Apes as Human tale whose protagonist autodidactically determines that the higher apes, rather than face the ordeals of radical transformation after leaving Eden, have undergone a deliberate Devolution, and are in fact refusing to talk; in this they are not dissimilar to Negroes (see Evolution; Imperialism; Race in SF). The protagonist, wilfully blind to the anguish he is causing through his procrustean imposition of something like Progress on another being, effectively tortures Yzur to death. The story is a remarkably intense and concentrated rendering of the cost of rewiring the world in order to become modern. Other tales of interest in this volume include "The Rain of Fire", which depicts the Holocaust that destroys Sodom and Gomorrah without recourse to a religious explanation. Lugones's work was highly regarded by Jorge Luis Borges, in particular the stories assembled as Strange Forces. [JC/RHF]

Leopoldo Lugones Argüello

born Villa de Maria Del Rio Seco, Cordóba Province, Argentina: 13 June 1874

died El Tigre, Argentina: 18 February 1938


  • Las fuerzas extrañas (Buenos Aires, Argentina: Arnaldo Moen y Hermano, 1906) [coll: na/]
    • Las fuerzas extrañas (Buenos Aires, Argentina: Arnaldo Moen y Hermano, 1926) [coll: rev of the above: na/]
      • Strange Forces (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Latin American Literary Review, 2001) [trans by Gilbert Alter-Gilbert of the above: pb/Jerry Wayne Downs]
  • Selected Writings (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008) [coll: trans by Sergio Waisman from various sources including six stories from the 1906 version of Las fuerzas extrañas above: edited with introduction by Gwen Kirkpatrick: hb/from Alejandro Xul Solar]


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