Desde Los Margenes: Cuatro Representaciones Vanguardistas de la Modernizacion de Argentina




Crabtree, Michelle

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This project engages four avant-garde writers from early twentieth century Buenos Aires and analyzes little-explored dimensions of how each author’s work during the 1920s interprets and represents Argentine modernity. In it, I first contrast the use of the gaucho in the novel Don Segundo Sombra (1926) by Ricardo Güiraldes with the use of the prostitute in the book of poetry Versos de una… (1926) by César Tiempo, showing how the marginality of each allows the authors to access the subversive power of the Other to launch their criticism against the modern city. Despite appeals in both works to a so-called “golden age” that preceded the rise of the South American petite bourgeoisie, it becomes clear that their opposing ideological stances reflect the disparate class interests of the time. In the second chapter, I compare the influence of anarchism, a prominent mode of revolutionary thought in fin-de-siècle Argentina, in a play by Armando Discépolo and a novel by Roberto Arlt. On the one hand, I argue that while Discépolo infuses Mateo (1923) with his anarchist sympathies, the political convictions of Arlt’s Los siete locos (1929) are more ambiguous. Instead of promoting anarchist teachings, it stylistically employs elements of anarchist writing at a superficial level. Furthermore, I propose that the autochthonous theatrical genre, the grotesco criollo, which was developed by Discépolo, made space in the Río de la Plata for revolutionary politics to enter mainstream art at the start of the 1920s. I outline how Arlt inherited and refashioned this style in his novelistic portrayal of modern man at the decade’s more pessimistic close. Each author discussed in this project communicates through his work his own perspective on modernity from the fringes of the avantgarde literary scene, but taken together, they complement one another and contribute to a more complete picture of this inflectional point in Argentine history.



Argentina, vanguardismo, siglo XX, 1920, modernidad, modernización, prostituta, gaucho, anarquismo, grotesco criollo


Crabtree, M. (2023). Desde los márgenes: Cuatro representaciones vanguardistas de la modernización de Argentina (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.


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