Photograph taken from the book Historia de la Literatura Argentina Vol I.
January 17, 1875
|Died||November 7, 1910
|Occupation||writer, journalist, politic|
Florencio Sánchez (January 17, 1875 – November 7, 1910) was a Uruguayan playwright, journalist and political figure. His artistic work unfolded in the River Plate region (Argentina and Uruguay). He's considered one of the founding fathers of theater in the River Platean area.
Florencio Sánchez came from a large family; he had eleven siblings and his parents moved his family to the city of Treinta y Tres and later to Minas, where he began his studies at an elementary school. At a very young age, he published a few satirical articles in a newspaper. It was around this age which he participated as actor and author in some family musicals (with staged representations).
After having abandoned his high school career, Sánchez alternated his life between Montevideo, Buenos Aires and Rosario. His intense works in journalism and theater unfolded in these cities. In Montevideo he joined the International Center for Social Studies (a literary organization). In Rosario he was a secretary for the writing department of La República ("The Republic"), a publication led by Lisandro de la Torre. His first writings of a social and political nature were published in La República. The critical and scathing realism was apparent in his literary work for the newspaper; this writing style would later characterize his theatrical productions.
Sánchez decided to move to Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1892 after spending some time in Rosario, a city in Santa Fe, Argentina. He would remain there for two years. After his return to Montevideo in 1894, he began working as a journalist for the newspapers El Nacional ("The National"), La Razón ("The Reason"), and El Siglo ("The Century"). He published interviews and wrote political articles which he adorned by incorporating dialogues from its protagonists. It was during his settlement in Buenos Aires that he began to acquire a name for himself as a journalist. He started to participate in intellectual circles and extravagantly enjoy the Buenos Aires night life.
In 1897 when the civil war broke out in Uruguay, he returned to his home country and fought under the ranks of Aparicio Saravia in continuation of his family's history of political inclination. It was during this phase of his life which he came into contact with certain outstanding intellectuals, such as Eduardo Acevedo Díaz. Shortly after his time fighting in the war, his political affiliation with anarchy would begin. He would write in La Protesta ("The Protest") and in the magazine El Sol ("The Sun"), the latter being led by Alberto Ghiraldo. Sánchez's plays Ladrones ("Thieves") and Puertas adentro ("Doors Within") would be written within the anarchist model.
On August 13, 1903, his first play, M'hijo el dotor ("My son, the doctor"), was put to show in the Comedy Theater of Buenos Aires. It had great success and was followed by a short but intense period of playwriting, all of which had similar success in both Buenos Aires and Montevideo. These included a farce entitled La gente honesta ("The Honest People") and perhaps his most famous play, Canillita ("The Newspaper Vendor"), both also written in 1903. Canillita has been interpreted by a Spanish operetta company.
It was the success of M'hijo el dotor which led Sánchez to marry Catalina Raventos on September 25, 1903 after being in a relationship with her since 1897. His unorganized economic life caused him to sell his plays to several impresarios and theater actors for very little money during a time of financial hardship. He frequently accepted advances on his pay for plays which he had not yet finished or begun writing. This led to further problems and he sometimes had to avoid his creditors and write a few plays hurriedly, giving them away without an appropriate revision.
In 1906, Sánchez settled down in La Plata, where he worked for the Office of Anthropometric Identification, which was funded by Juan Vucetich. His uncaring night life may have led to his catching tuberculosis, which was spreading rapidly during the late 1880s and early 1900s.
For many years he had had the intention of travelling to Europe to create a both socially and economically successful play. In 1909 he found an opportunity to go and boarded the Italian ship Principe di Udine on September 25, arriving in Genova on October 13. In Italy, he dedicated himself principally to search for a manner to connect himself with the theater companies and for an opportunity to have his plays put on in Spain and France. Sánchez's behavior was completely unusual; upon receiving 3000 Francs in 1910 for the representation of his play Los muertos ("The Dead"), he spent all of his money in just a few days in Niza on women and by gambling in casinos.
After having traveled through much of Italy and southern France, he went to Milan, an important center for theater activity, to place himself in contact with some important theater impresarios. Nonetheless, his disease was affecting his health rapidly and he was hastily ordered to travel to Switzerland because it was believed that the pure air from the Alpine mountain area would help his health. After arriving in Switzerland by train he was only turned down from hotels and hospitals; no one would admit him because of his contagious disease. His only option was to return to Milan. He was finally admitted into a hospital in Milan on November 2 and died on November 7 at the age of thirty-five.
A passionate observer, Sánchez's favorite themes for his plays were family, the tenament and immigrants; he also represented different social classes on both sides of the Silver River (Río de la Plata), displaying through the everyday life of and dialogue between his characters both the misery and hope of the working class.
Sánchez is regarded as Uruguay's leading playwright. His dramatic plays include:
- La gente honesta [English: The Honest People] Farce; premiere- June 26, 1903. Retitled Los curdas.
- M'hijo el dotor [English: My Son, the Doctor] Comedy in three acts; premiere- August 13, 1903
- Canillita [English: The Newspaper Vendor] Farce; premiere- October 2, 1903
- Cédulas de San Juan [English: San Juan's Warrant] Farce in two acts; premiere- August 7, 1904
- La pobre gente [English: The Poor People] Comedy in two acts; premiere- October 1904
- La gringa [English: The Foreigner (female)] Comedy in four acts; premiere- November 21, 1904
- Barranca abajo [English: Downwards Gully] Tragedy in three acts; premiere- April 26, 1905
- Mano santa [English: Holy Hand] Farce; premiere- June 9, 1905
- En familia [English: In Family] Comedy in three acts; premiere- October 6, 1905
- Los muertos [English: The Dead] Comedy in three acts; premiere- October 23, 1905
- El conventillo [English: The Tenement] Traditional Spanish Operetta in one act; premiere- June 22, 1906
- El desalojo [English: The Vacancy] Farce; premiere- July 16, 1906
- El pasado [English: The Past] Comedy in three acts; premiere- October 22, 1906
- Los curdas [English: The Kurds] Farce; premiere- January 2, 1907
- La tigra [English: The Tigress] Farce; premiere- January 2, 1907
- Moneda falsa [English: False Coin] Farce; January 8, 1907
- El cacique Pichuelo [English: The Pichuelan Boss] Traditional Spanish Operetta; premiere- January 9, 1907
- Los derechos de la salud [English: Health Rights] Comedy in three acts; premiere- December 4, 1907
- Nuestros hijos [English: Our Children] Comedy in three acts; premiere- June 1908
- Marta Gruni Farce; premiere- July 1908. Utilized as a text for an opera written by Juarés Lamarque Pons in 1967
- Un buen negocio Comedy in two acts; premiere- May 2, 1909
Sánchez was a supporter of the conservative nationalist leader Aparicio Saravia. He sided with Saravia in the Uruguayan Civil War of 1897, but disillusioned by its aftermath, Sánchez became an anarchist and wrote for the anarchist periodical La Protesta (English: Protest).
- It was colloquially abbreviated tisis and a person with tuberculosis was viciously called tísico (male) or tísica (female). The infectious disease is highly contagious and affects the ability to breathe, gradually ruining the lungs' surfaces. A victim of tuberculosis would cough frequently and expel blood through saliva from the lungs, which was the first symptom needed to diagnose someone with the disease.
- Roberto González Echevarría, Enrique Pupo-Walker (1996). The Cambridge History of Latin American Literature. Cambridge University Press. p. 551. ISBN 978-0-521-34069-4. "The giant of all is the Uruguayan Florencio Sánchez (1875-1910). Disillusioned by the revolution of 1897, he abandoned traditional politics for anarchism."
- Florencio Sanchez: Vida y obra. La Escuela Digital. <http://www.escueladigital.com.uy/biografias/f_sanchez.htm>.
- Roberto González Echevarría, Enrique Pupo-Walker (1996). The Cambridge History of Latin American Literature. Cambridge University Press. p. 551. ISBN 978-0-521-34069-4.
- This article incorporates information from the revision as of January 31, 2009 of the equivalent article on the Spanish Wikipedia.
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