Manuel Puig

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This article is about the Argentine author. For other uses, see Puig (disambiguation).
Manuel Puig
Born (1932-12-28)December 28, 1932
General Villegas, Argentina
Died July 22, 1990(1990-07-22) (aged 57)
Cuernavaca, Mexico
Occupation Novelist, screenwriter
Nationality Argentinian
Period 1968-1990
Literary movement Postboom, Post-modernist

Manuel Puig (born Juan Manuel Puig Delledonne) (December 28, 1932 – July 22, 1990) was an Argentine author.

Among his best-known novels are La traición de Rita Hayworth (1968) (Betrayed by Rita Hayworth), Boquitas pintadas (1969) (Heartbreak Tango), and El beso de la mujer araña (1976) (Kiss of the Spider Woman), which was adapted as the film Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985), directed by the Argentine-Brazilian director Héctor Babenco; and as the Broadway musical Kiss of the Spider Woman (1993).

Early life, education and early career[edit]

Puig was born in General Villegas, Buenos Aires Province. After unsuccessfully studying architecture in the University of Buenos Aires, he began working as a film archivist and editor in the city of Buenos Aires and later, in Italy after winning a scholarship from the Italian Institute of Buenos Aires. Puig's dream was to become a screenwriter to write television shows and movies. His career as a screenwriter never took off, however.

Young Adult Life[edit]

Due to the fact that there was no high school in General Villegas, his parents moved him to Buenos Aires in 1946 where he studied at Colegio Ward in Villa Sarmiento, located in Morón County.

From that point on, he began to read systematically. He dedicated himself first to reading a collection of the winning authors of the Nobel Prize.

A classmate named Horacio, with whom he lived and paid rent to during his first stay in Buenos Aires introduced him to readings from the school of Psychoanalysis. He also read Hesse, Huxley, Sartre, and Mann. The first novel that he read was The Pastoral Symphony by André Gide.

Furthermore, Horacio introduced him to European cinema. Encouraged by him, he saw Crime In Paris. From then on he decided that he would study film directing. In order to do so he learned Italian, French, and German, which were considered "the new languages of cinema".

He was advised to study engineering so he could specialize in Sound-on-film. However, he did not consider it to be the right job for him. In 1950 he enrolled in the Faculty of Architecture but only took classes for six months.

In 1951 he switched to the School of Philosophy. Despite his zeal in his studies, he struggled with subjects such as Latin. Upon finishing the program, he was already working in film. However, the world of Hollywood had disappointed him. He could not find a generational connection fit for the stars that had captivated him during his childhood except for Marilyn Monroe and Gloria Swanson.

A note in the magazine Radiolandia about the future premiere of the film Deshonra prompted him to meet the director of it, Daniel Tinayre. He felt a form of admiration for him for his comedy La vendedora de fantasías. Since the director denied him access to the film, he spoke to the main character, actress Fanny Navarro, without permission. He felt no sympathy for her due to the fact that she supported Peronismand he was opposed to said political movement due to the fact that its leader, Juan Domingo Perón, had prohibited the importation of American films into Argentina. Navarro sent him to another actress of the cast, Herminia Franco, who got him in. Shortly after, he began to work in Alex laboratories.

In 1953 he had to fulfill his obligatory military service and did so in the area of Aeronautics. They took him as a translator.

Writing career[edit]

In the 1960s, he moved back to Buenos Aires, where he penned his first major novel, La traición de Rita Hayworth. Because he had leftist political tendencies and also foresaw a rightist wave in Argentina, Puig moved to Mexico in 1973, where he wrote his later works (including El beso de la mujer araña).

Much of Puig's work can be seen as pop art.[citation needed] Perhaps due to his work in film and television, Puig managed to create a writing style that incorporated elements of these mediums, such as montage and the use of multiple points of view. He also made much use of popular culture (for example, soap opera) in his works. In Latin American literary histories, he is presented as a writer who belongs to the Postboom and Post-modernist schools.

Puig lived in exile throughout most of his life. In 1989, Puig moved from Mexico City to Cuernavaca, Mexico, where he died in 1990. In the official biography, Manuel Puig and the Spider Woman: His Life and Fiction, his close friend Suzanne Jill Levine writes that Puig had been in pain for a few days prior to being admitted to a hospital, where he was told that his gallbladder was inflamed and would have to be taken out. After the surgery, while Puig was recovering, he began to choke and gasp. The medical team was unable to help Puig. His lungs had filled with fluid, and he died of a heart attack at 4:55 a.m. on July 22, 1990.[1]

The 2004 film Vereda Tropical, directed by Javier Torres, depicts the period when Puig lived in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The writer's role is played by the actor Fabio Aste.


Critics such as Pamela Bacarisse divides Puig's work into two parts: his early novels, which "attracted an enormous audience by weaving into his narratives the artistic 'sub-products' of mass culture"; and his later books which have "lost their popular appeal" as they evidence "a depressing, even unpalatable, vision of life, no longer even superficially sweetened by palliatives as the mass-media elements are left behind".[2]

Three translations of his work have been reprinted by Dalkey Archive Press:

  • 2009: Betrayed by Rita Hayworth
  • 2010: The Buenos Aires Affair
  • 2010: Heartbreak Tango

List of works[edit]


Plays and screenplays[edit]

[clarification needed]

  • 1983: Bajo un manto de estrellas. Beatriz Viterbo Editora. 1997. ISBN 978-950-845-060-9. 
  • 1983: El beso de la mujer araña (Kiss of the Spider Woman)
  • 1985: La cara del villano (The Face of the Villain)
  • 1985: Recuerdo de Tijuana (Memories of Tijuana)
  • 1991: Vivaldi: A Screenplay (in Review of Contemporary Fiction №3)
  • 1997: El misterio del ramo de rosas (1987) (Mystery of the Rose Bouquet)
  • 1997: La tajada; Gardel, uma lembranca

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Levine 2000, p. 377
  2. ^ Bacarisse 1988, p. 4
  • Bacarisse, Pamela (1988). The Necessary Dream: A Study of the Novels of Manuel Puig. Cardiff: University of Wales Press. ISBN 978-0-7083-1011-3. 
  • Levine, Suzanne Jill (2000). Manuel Puig and the Spider Woman: His Life and Fictions. New York City: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. ISBN 978-0-374-28190-8. 
  • Vivancos Pérez, Ricardo F. “Una lectura queer de Manuel Puig: Blood and Sand en La traición de Rita Hayworth”. Revista Iberoamericana. Vol. LXXII, Nos. 215-6 (2006): 633-50.

External links[edit]