Andrés Bello

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This name uses Spanish naming customs; the first or paternal family name is Bello and the second or maternal family name is López.
Andrés Bello
AndresBello.jpg
Born Andrés de Jesús María y José Bello López
(1781-11-29)November 29, 1781
Caracas, Venezuela
Died October 15, 1865(1865-10-15) (aged 83)
Santiago, Chile
Signature Signature of Andrés Bello, 1804.jpg

Andrés de Jesús María y José Bello López (November 29, 1781 – October 15, 1865) was a humanist, diplomat, poet, legislator, philosopher, educator and philologist, whose political and literary works constitute an important part of Spanish American culture. He was born in what is now Venezuela, then a colony of Spain, but later in life became a citizen of Chile. Bello is featured on the old 2,000 Venezuelan bolívar and the 20,000 Chilean peso notes. There is also a decoration, the Venezuelan Order of Andrés Bello.

Life in Venezuela[edit]

Bello was the first son of the lawyer don Bartolomé Bello and Ana Antonia López, who parents descended from people from the Canary Islands.[1] He was born in Caracas and grew up studying at the academy of Ramón Vanlonsten. He also frequented the Convent of las Mercedes, where he studied Latin under Father Cristobal de Quesada. After the monk's death in 1796, Bello translated Book V of the Aeneid.[2]

He studied Liberal Arts, Law and Medicine at the University of Caracas and graduated on May 9, 1800 with a degree of Bachelor of Arts. He later became known for his early writings and translations, edited the newspaper Gazeta de Caracas and held important offices in the government of the Captaincy General of Venezuela. He accompanied Alexander von Humboldt in a part of his Latin American expedition (1800) and was for a short time Simón Bolívar's teacher.[3] His relationships with both men became a major factor in cultivating his ideas for his intellectual career.

Bello spent ten years after his formal education in his homeland of Caracas. He authored two pieces of literary work, Calendario manual y guía universal del forastero en Venezuela para el año de 1810 and the Resumen de la historia de Venezuela .[4]

Both works became widely accepted in Venezuela, and from this point Bello started his career as a poet. As time progressed, Bello further expanded his notions on humanism and conservatism. From his theories and ideas, Bello was eventually hailed as one of the foremost humanists of his time.

Life in England[edit]

As First Officer of Venezuela's Foreign Secretariat after the coup on April 19, 1810, he was sent to London with Simón Bolívar and Luis Lopez Mendez serving as Diplomatic Representative to procure funds for the revolutionary effort until 1813.[5] Bello landed at Portsmouth as an attache to Bolivar's mission in July 1810.[4] Bello had an admittedly hard life throughout his stay in England, though he managed to further develop his ideas and took a particular interest in England's social changes from the industrial and agricultural revolution.[4] In order to earn a living while in London, Bello taught Spanish and tutored Lord Hamilton's children.[6] In London, he met Francisco de Miranda and became a frequent visitor of his library in Grafton Way, as well as of the British Museum. During his lengthy stay in England, he curbed his feelings of homesickness and became contemporaries with thinkers and intellectuals such as José María Blanco, Bartólome José Gallardo, Vicente Rocafuerte to name a few. He stayed in London for nineteen years acting as a secretary to legations and diplomatic affairs for Chile and Colombia. In his free time he was involved in study, teaching and journalism.[7] An English Heritage blue plaque commemorates Bello at 58 Grafton Way, his Fitzrovia address.[8]

In 1823, Bello published the Biblioteca America with Juan Garcia del Rio which was widely hailed in Europe.[4] In 1826 he published the journal Repertorio Americano to which he frequently contributed as both editor and poet.[6] His two epic poems by which he was made famous, entitled Las Silvas Americanas, were originally published during his time in London around 1826 and documented the emerging culture of the New World. The second of the poems Silva a la agricultura de la zona tórrida is the most famous of the two, and is a poetic description of South America's tropical lands in a style reminiscent of Virgil, a poet of great influence for Bello.[7] The poems were to become a part of Bello's expanded epic America however it was never finished.

Life in Chile[edit]

Andrés Bello and his wife Isabel Dunn in 1862

In 1829 he accepted a post in the Chilean Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Santiago, Chile under the administration of Chilean minister Diego Portales.[6] While a surprising candidate considering his Venezuelan birth, he gladly accepted the post and was later named Senator of Santiago. As Senator, Bello founded the University of Chile in 1843 and held a position as Rector for the remainder of his life.[6] Until his death at the age of eighty-three, Bello worked tirelessly to train the young minds of the new republic.[6] Such brilliant thinkers and writers as Victorino Lastarria and Francisco Bilbao were influenced by their time with Bello.[9]

The Gramática de la lengua castellana destinada al uso de los americanos, or Castilian Grammar Intended for the Use by Americans (Americans referring to Castilian- or Spanish-speaking inhabitants of the Americas), finished in 1847, was the first Spanish-American Grammar, with many original contributions, a product of long years of study. Republished over the years with many revisions, the most significant of which are by Rufino Jose Cuervo, this is still a valuable reference work. Bello was accepted in the Spanish Royal Academy of Language as Correspondent Member in 1861.

Accomplishments[edit]

One of Bello's most famous accomplishments was his promulgation of the 1852 Civil Code of Chile, passed by Chilean Congress in 1855. It served primarily as a governing code similar to Europe's Napoleonic Code. He worked on this Code for twenty years, and it was later adopted by both Colombia and Ecuador.

He is also revered by the María Lionza religion of Venezuela. In 1953 the Andrés Bello Catholic University was founded, named in his honour. Chile's Diplomatic Academy is also named after Andrés Bello. Several of his descendants have even worked there as teachers in the many years since its founding, most recently Jesus Rafael Bello Brito -a part-time diplomat and reclusive investor.

Commemorations[edit]

Bello is featured on the old 2,000 Venezuelan bolívar and the 20,000 Chilean peso notes. There is also a decoration, the Venezuelan Order of Andrés Bello. In 2014 a new column in The Economist covering Latin America was named "Bello" in his honor.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ http://elguanche.net/Ficheros3/emigracionytrascendenciaagm8.htm. LA EMIGRACION Y SU TRASCENDENCIA EN LA HISTORIA DEL PUEBLO CANARIO (THE IMMIGRATION AND ITS SIGNIFICANCE IN THE HISTORY OF PUEBLO CANARIO) (in spanish)
  2. ^ Biblioteca de Traducciones Hispanoamericanas
  3. ^ Arismendi Posada, Ignacio; Gobernantes Colombianos, trans. Colombian Presidents; Interprint Editors Ltd.; Italgraf; Segunda Edición; Page 10; Bogotá, Colombia; 1983
  4. ^ a b c d Gregory Weinberg "Andres Bello" UNESCO: International Bureau of Education, 2000
  5. ^ Crow (1992:431).
  6. ^ a b c d e John Crow (1992), The Epic of Latin America, California: University of California Press. p643
  7. ^ a b "Bello, Andrés." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2008. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 28 Oct. 2008 <http://search.eb.com/eb/article-9015290>
  8. ^ "BELLO, ANDRÉS (1781-1865)". English Heritage. Retrieved 2012-10-20. 
  9. ^ Crow (1992:644)
Academic offices
Preceded by
None
Rector of the Universidad de Chile
1843-1865
Succeeded by
Manuel Antonio Tocornal