Mario Benedetti

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Mario Benedetti
Benedetti in 1981
Benedetti in 1981
Born(1920-09-14)14 September 1920
Paso de los Toros
Died17 May 2009(2009-05-17) (aged 88)
EducationDeutsche Schule Montevideo

Mario Benedetti Farrugia[1] (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈmaɾjo βeneˈðeti] ; 14 September 1920 – 17 May 2009),[2] was a Uruguayan journalist, novelist, and poet and an integral member of the Generación del 45. Despite publishing more than 80 books and being published in twenty languages, he was not well known in the English-speaking world.[3] In the Spanish-speaking world he is considered one of Latin America's most important writers of the latter half of the 20th century.[4]

Early life and education[edit]

Benedetti was born 1920 in Paso de los Toros in the Uruguayan Tacuarembó Department to Brenno Benedetti, a pharmaceutical and chemical winemaker, and Matilde Farrugia, who were of Italian descent.[5] Two years later, they moved to Tacuarembó, the capital city of the province, and shortly after that, his father tried to buy a chemist's but was swindled and went into bankruptcy,[6] so they moved and settled in Montevideo, the capital city of the country, where they lived in difficult economic conditions.[7] Mario completed six years of primary school at the Deutsche Schule Montevideo, where he also learned German, which later allowed him to be the first translator of Franz Kafka in Uruguay. His father immediately removed him from the school when Nazi ideology started featuring in the classroom. For two years afterwards, he studied at Liceo Miranda, but for the rest of his high-school years he did not attend an educational institution. In those years he learned shorthand, which was his livelihood for a long time. At the age of 14 he began working, first as a stenographer and then as a seller, public officer, accountant, journalist, broadcaster and translator.


He trained as a journalist with Carlos Quijano, on the weekly newspaper Marcha.[8] From 1938 and 1941 he lived in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He worked in different professions on both banks of the Río de la Plata river, for example, as a stenographer.[9] In 1946 he married Luz López Alegre.

He was a member of the "Generation of 45", an Uruguayan intellectual and literary movement that included Carlos Maggi, Manuel Flores Mora, Ángel Rama, Emir Rodríguez Monegal, Idea Vilariño, Carlos Real de Azúa, José Pedro Díaz, Amanda Berenguer, Ida Vitale, Líber Falco, Juan Carlos Onetti, among others.[10]

He wrote for the weekly Uruguayan newspaper Marcha from 1945 until it was forcibly closed by the military government in 1973, and was its literary director from 1954. In 1957, he traveled to Europe and visited nine countries as a correspondent for Marcha weekly magazine and El Diario newspaper.[11]

Exile, 1973–1985[edit]

For 12 years, from 1973 to 1985, when a civic-military dictatorship ruled Uruguay, Benedetti lived in exile. He first went to Buenos Aires, Argentina, and then to Lima, Peru, where he was detained, deported and then given amnesty. He went to Cuba in 1976 and the following year to Madrid, Spain.[6] His exile was made particularly trying by the fact that his wife had to remain in Uruguay to look after both of their mothers. In 1980, he moved to Palma, Majorca.

Return to Uruguay, 1985[edit]

Benedetti in Uruguay (1998?)

Benedetti returned to Uruguay in March 1985, following the restoration of democracy, and thereafter divided his time between Montevideo and Madrid. He was granted Honoris Causa doctorates by the Universidad de la República, Uruguay, the Universidad de Alicante, Spain and the Universidad de Valladolid, Spain.

For his poetry and novels Benedetti won numerous international awards. In 1986, he was awarded Laureate Of The International Botev Prize. On 7 June 2005, he was named the recipient of the Menéndez Pelayo International Prize. La Tregua, first published in 1960, has been translated into more than 20 languages and inspired the 1974 film The Truce. His poetry was also used in the 1992 Argentine movie The Dark Side of the Heart (El lado oscuro del corazón), in which he read some of his poems in German.[12]

In 2006, Mario Benedetti signed a petition in support of the independence of Puerto Rico from the United States.

Personal life and death[edit]

In the last ten years of his life, Benedetti suffered from asthma and, in order to avoid the cold, spent his winters in Madrid where it was summer, though as his health deteriorated he eventually remained in Montevideo. In 2006, his wife Luz López died, ending more than six decades of matrimony.

Before dying, he dictated to his personal secretary, Ariel Silva, what would become his last poem:[13]

He died in Montevideo on 17 May 2009. He had suffered from respiratory and intestinal problems for more than a year. His remains are buried at the National Pantheon in the Central Cemetery of Montevideo.[14]


Short story collections[edit]

  • Esta mañana (1949)
  • Montevideanos (1959)
  • La muerte y otras sorpresas (1968)
  • Con y sin nostalgia (1977)
  • Geografías (1984)
  • Despistes y franquezas (1989)
  • Buzón de tiempo (1999)
  • El porvenir de mi pasado (2003)


  • Quién de nosotros (1953)
  • La tregua (1960). The Truce: The Diary of Martín Santomé, trans. Benjamin Graham (Harper & Row, 1969); also trans. Harry Morales (Penguin, 2015)
  • Gracias por el fuego (1965). Adapted as a film directed by Sergio Renán in 1984.
  • El cumpleaños de Juan Ángel (1971). Juan Angel's Birthday, trans. David Arthur McMurray (1974)[15]
  • Primavera con esquina rota (1982). Springtime in a Broken Mirror, trans. Nick Caistor (The New Press, 2018)
  • La borra del café (1992)
  • Andamios (1996)


  • 1945: La víspera indeleble ("Indelible Eve"), his first published book[16]
  • 1956: Poemas de oficina ("Office Poems")[16]
  • 1963:
    • Inventario, Poesía 1950–1958 ("Inventory, Poems 1950–1958")[16]
    • Poemas del hoy por hoy ("Poems of Today")[16]
  • 1977: La casa y el ladrillo ("The House and the Brick")[16]
  • 1981: Viento del exilio ("Wind of the exile")[16]
  • 1986: Preguntas al azar ("Random Questions")[16]
  • 1988: Yesterday y mañana ("Yesterday and Tomorrow")[16]
  • 1991: Las soledades de Babel ("The Loneliness of Babel")[16]
  • 1994: Inventario dos (1985-1994) ("Inventory Two (1985-1994)"), published in Madrid[16]
  • 1995: ("The Exercise of Discretion: Oblivion Is Full of Memory"), published in Spain[16]
  • 1996: El amor, las mujeres y la vida. Poemas de amor.
  • 1997: La vida ese paréntesis[16]
  • 2002: Insomnios y Duermevelas, ISBN 84-7522-959-X
  • 2004: Defensa propia, ISBN 950-731-438-5
  • Little Stones At My Window (Bilingual edition; translation and introduction by Charles Hatfield) ISBN 1-880684-90-X
  • Poemas de otros
  • Noción de Patria
  • Sólo mientras tanto
  • Quemar las naves
  • A ras de sueño
  • Letras de emergencia
  • 2007: Vivir adrede


  • 1960: El país de la cola de paja
  • "La Colección"


  • 1958: Ida y Vuelta
  • 1979: Pedro y el capitán


  • 1969: Book Cubano, including poems, articles and interviews about Cuba and his experiences there [16]
  • 1984: El Desexilio y Otras Conjeturas (Dis-exile And Other Conjectures)[6]
  • 1996: Obras completas ("Complete Works"), in 28 volumes, published in Argentina[16]

English translations[edit]

  • La tregua (1960). The Truce: The Diary of Martín Santomé, trans. Benjamin Graham (Harper & Row, 1969); also trans. Harry Morales (Penguin, 2015)
  • El cumpleaños de Juan Ángel (1971). Juan Angel's Birthday, trans. David Arthur McMurray (1974)[15]
  • Blood Pact & Other Stories, ed. Claribel Alegría and Darwin J. Flakoll (Curbstone Press, 1997)
  • Little Stones at My Window: Poems, trans. Charles Dean Hatfield (Curbstone Press, 2003)
  • Only in the Meantime & Office Poems, trans. Harry Morales (Host Publications, 2006)
  • Pedro y el capitán (1979). Pedro and the Captain: A Play in Four Parts, trans. Adrianne Aron (Cadmus Editions, 2009)
  • The Rest Is Jungle and Other Stories, trans. Harry Morales (Host Publications, 2010)
  • Witness: The Selected Poems of Mario Benedetti, trans. Louise B. Popkin (White Pine Press, 2012)
  • Primavera con una esquina rota (1982). Springtime in a Broken Mirror, trans. Nick Caistor (The New Press, 2018)

Awards and honours[edit]

  • 1982: Orden Félix Varela from the Consejo de Estado de Cuba
  • 1987: Premio Llama de Oro, for Primavera con una esquina rota
  • 1982: Medalla Haydée Santamaría from the Consejo de Estado de Cuba
  • 1986: International Botev Prize
  • 1995: Medalla Gabriela Mistral
  • 1996: Premio Especial Bartolomé Hidalgo for his essays
  • 1999: Gran Premio Nacional a la Actividad Intelectual, Ministerio de Educación y Cultura
  • 1999: VIII Premio Reina Sofía de Poesía Iberoamericana
  • 2005: Medalla Pablo Neruda
  • 2005: Menéndez Pelayo International Prize
  • 2005: Premio Alba in the category of Letras and the Orden Francisco de Miranda Primera Clase

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Martinez, Ezequiel (2000). "Los 80 años de Mario Benedetti". Especial Mario Benedetti en El Clarín. Retrieved 27 October 2006.
  2. ^ "The Associated Press: Famed Uruguayan writer Benedetti dies at 88". Retrieved 17 May 2009.
  3. ^ Gregory, Stephen William George (1999) The collapse of dialogue: Intellectuals and politics in the Uruguayan crisis, 1960-1973 Thesis, Modern Language Studies, University of New South Wales. OCLC 44284108, abstract
  4. ^ "Mario Benedetti: Writer in the vanguard of South America's literary". 11 June 2009. Retrieved 17 October 2022. Mario Benedetti: Writer in the vanguard of South America's literary boom in the second half of the 20th century
  5. ^ "Biografía de Mario Benedetti - Mario Benedetti". Biblioteca Virtual Miguel de Cervantes (in Spanish). Retrieved 17 October 2022.
  6. ^ a b c Nick Caistor (7 June 2009). "Poet of Uruguay's revolutionary moment". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 17 October 2022.
  7. ^ "Página/12 Web - Sociedad - "Del exilio se vuelve cambiado, otra persona"". 26 September 2007. Archived from the original on 26 September 2007. Retrieved 17 October 2022.
  8. ^ Fundación Mario Benedetti
  9. ^ "Mario Benedetti Biografía Detallada: 1920-1959 – Fundación Mario Benedetti" (in Spanish). Retrieved 7 September 2020.
  10. ^ Generación del 45: severa en la crítica y brillante en la creación. Archived 22 September 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ "Mario Benedetti Biografía Detallada: 1920-1959 – Fundación Mario Benedetti" (in Spanish). Retrieved 14 September 2020.
  12. ^ El lado oscuro del corazón at IMDb Edit this at Wikidata
  13. ^ "Rostros de vos". El Diario Ecuador. 21 May 2009. [El Diario de Ecuador: Mario Benedetti dictates his last poem (in Spanish)]
  14. ^ Benedetti dies (in Spanish)
  15. ^ a b Benedetti, Mario; McMurray, David Arthur (1974). "Juan Angel's Birthday". The Massachusetts Review. 15 (1/2): 137–216. ISSN 0025-4878.
  16. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Web page titled "Biblioteca de autores contemporaneos / Mario Benedetti - El autor" (in Spanish), retrieved 27 May 2009

External links[edit]