José Mármol (1817-1871)
Through the generosity of Robert O'Grady, the Department of Special Collections currently holds over ten letters written by Mármol to his sister-in-law, Julia Vidal. Covering a period of three years, the letters deal with the health and financial interests of Mármol's son, referred to as Pepe. He also discusses his second marriage, as well as the onset of his blindness. Above all, these letters reveal the mutual devotion between the two, and their love and concern for Pepe.
The mysterious circumstances of José Mármol's childhood fit well with the romantic story lines of his later novels. Born with rumors about his paternity, Mármol's mother suspiciously disappeared while alone in Rio de Janeiro, never to see her young son again. Gossip arose, and as a child Mármol moved frequently between Argentina and Uruguay, although he would later prove to be as fiercely loyal to his native Buenos Aires as his veteran father.
As a young man, Mármol studied law in the University of Buenos Aires, but his arrest and detainment by the federalist police prevented him from graduating. It was during this brief time in prison that Mármol began to write, and upon his release in 1840 he became a powerful voice of resistance to the Rosas dictatorship. He published his first work, Cantos del peregrino, in 1847 while living in exile in Montevideo. The romantic tone of this work carried over into other genres; plays such as El cruzado clearly recall the works of the Spanish romantics.
In addition to his poems and plays, Mármol wrote his most famous work as a novel. Titled Amalia, it first appeared in 1851 as a weekly newspaper serial. Considered the first Argentine novel, it depicts the abuses of the dictatorship while following the life and love affair of a young unitario. Mármol returned to Buenos Aires when the federalist regime fell only one year after Amalia's publication. There, he received the prestigious honor of being named the Director of the National Library.
The collection at Notre Dame consists of a series of correspondence from Mármol to his sister-in-law, Julia Vidal. Written after the death of his wife, the letters deal with the health and financial interests of Mármol's son, referred to as Pepe. He also discusses his second marriage, as well as the onset of his blindness. Above all, these letters reveal the mutual devotion between the two, and their love and concern for Pepe.
Aira, César. "José Mármol." Diccionario de autores latinoamericanos. Buenos Aires, Emecé, 2001. p. 344-345. (Hesburgh Library, Reference: PQ 7081.3 .A35 2001)
Leocadio Garasa, Delfín. "José Mármol." Latin American Writers. Ed. Carlos A. Solé. New York: Scribner, 1989. p.181-184. (Hesburgh Library, Reference: PQ 7081 .A1 L37 1989)