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Rare Books & Special Collections

Hilario Ascasubi (1807-1875)

The Department of Special Collections currently possesses one letter of correspondence written by Ascasubi to José María Gutiérrez, a member of Argentina's reform movement during the 19th century. The letter provides insight in to the practical aspects of reform during the Federalist dictatorship, and was obtained through the generosity of Robert O'Grady.

Biographical Information

Given his birth underneath a horse cart in rural Argentina, Hilario Ascasubi's skill at depicting the gaucho lifestyle comes as no surprise. Ascasubi embraced adventure at a young age; in 1818 he ran away to a life at sea, and he gained worldly experience by traveling throughout South America as well as the southern United States. After only a few years, he returned to Salta, a province of his native Argentina, and with the help of Juan Arenales began his first literary endeavor, La revista mensual de Salta.

In addition to literature, Ascasubi was also surrounded by political turmoil. Salta was torn by internal strife until 1825, when the Federalist General Facundo Quiroga came to forcibly establish peace. The author's strong loyalties to the opposing Unitarian Party resulted in his exile to Montevideo during the twenty years of the federalist dictatorship. His major literary works, Santos Vega and Paulino Lucero, were also first published in their entirety outside of Argentina. Appearing in Paris in 1872, they are widely regarded as the standard to which all other gaucho literature should be held. Ascasubi's talent with this theme is such that Jorge Luis Borges would later comment, "Ascasubi y la patria crecieron juntos."

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Description of Archival Collection (MSH/SCL 1012-1 to 1012-2)

The Department of Special Collections currently holds one letter of correspondence written by Ascasubi to José María Gutiérrez, a leading member of the reform movement and lifelong editor of the newspaper, La Nación. Writing from France in October of 1862, the poet offers to send books, clothes and other aid to the government as a gesture of his patriotic spirit.

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Ascasubi, Hilario. Paulino Lucero, Ancieto el gallo, Santos Vega. Buenos Aires: Editorial Buenos Aires, 1960. (Hesburgh Library, General Collection: PQ 7797 .A811 A8)

Dorn, Georgette M. "Hilario Ascasubi." Latin American Writers. Ed. Carlos A. Solé. New York: Scribner, 1989. p.147-150. (Hesburgh Library, Reference: PQ 7081 .A1 L37 1989)

Nekhom, Lisa M. and Ione S. Wright. "Ascasubi, Hilario." Historical Dictionary of Argentina. Ed. A. Curtis Wilgus. Metuchen, N.J.: The Scarecrow Press, 1978. 59-60. (Hesburgh Library, Reference: PQ 7081 .A1 L37 1989)

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