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  HOME | Uruguay

Benedetti Biography Highlights Ethical Conscience of Uruguay Poet

By Carmen SigŁenza

MADRID -- A new biography about octogenarian Uruguayan author Mario Benedetti provides his millions of readers with a wealth of information about his life and work and shows him as a man devoted to his writing and to the world that surrounds him.

"A writer by vocation who, above all, has sought and managed to communicate; humble, generous and modest," were the words Hortensia Campanella, journalist, director of the Spanish Cultural Center in Montevideo and author of the biography titled "Un mito discretisimo" (An Exceedingly Discreet Myth), used to describe Benedetti, 88.

She spent years researching the life, formation, influences, ups-and-downs and periods in exile of the author of "La tregua" (Truce), a novel of which more than 140 editions have been published in 20 languages.

Published by Alfaguara, this new biography has just been released in Spain, the country that received Benedetti in 1977 while he was living in exile during Uruguay's 1973-1985 military dictatorship.

The Uruguayan author has numerous friends and admirers in the Iberian nation and many of them, including singer-songwriter Joan Manuel Serrat, were interviewed for the work.

A painstaking look at Benedetti featuring a collection of photos of him at different stages of his life, it stems from the numerous interviews Campanella conducted with the author in 1980. "Afterward I made a map of his life path, his friends, his trips ... of everything, always in relation to his work," she told Efe.

"I did a lot of interviews," Campanella said. "I poured over publications, archives; I searched through documents and letters. And then came the process of putting it all together so the story of his life was framed in its historical, social and political context, and finally, so the result was something readable."

The volume drives home the point that the Uruguayan author's main commitment has also been "to his writing."

But, in addition to his craft, Benedetti also is known as a person devoted to his surroundings and his fellow man, Campanella said, recalling one line of his verse: "the human being's awareness is contaminated by awareness of his neighbor."

The Uruguayan writer, whose first book of poetry was published in 1945 under the title "Los poemas de la vispera" (Poems of the Day Before), is one of the poets whose verse has most often been put to music by singer-songwriters such as Serrat, Nacha Guevara and Silvio Rodriguez.

In addition to being the poetic conscience of an entire continent, Benedetti, the winner of the Queen Sofia Ibero-American Poetry prize, is perhaps best known for his love poems, the genre he says he prefers.

Benedetti was married for 57 years to Luz Lopez Alegre before her death in 2006, and he has dedicated all of his books to her, both those published before and after her death. EFE


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