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Emilio Oribe (1892-1975)

Biographical Information

A poet and essayist, Emilio Oribe was born in the north-eastern city of Melo, Uruguay. Oribe received his medical degree in 1919, but he soon left medicine to teach high school philosophy. He later became a professor of Esthetics in the Faculty of Humanities and Sciences at the Universidad de Uruguay. In 1963 Oribe was elected a member of the Academy of Letters and awarded Uruguay’s National Literary Prize.

Oribe published his first books of poetry in 1912 and 1915 that reflected the influence of Uruguay’s early modernist, Julio Herrera y Reissig. Oribe’s mature poetry can be divided into two periods, 1917 to 1930, and 1930 and beyond. In the first period he distanced himself from the modernism employed by many other poets but at the same time he focused on an American identity for his poetry as seen in his first collection, El pájaro rojo (1925).

In 1930 he published his first work of essays, Poética y plástica and from then on reflection and poetry intertwined. His following works of essays include Teoría del nous (1934), El mito y el logos (1945), and La dinámica del verbo (1953)

He believed in the salvation of poetry and its importance in day-to-day life. He continued to promote a national and American culture that differed from the dominant European that defined western culture of that day. His poetry clearly stood in opposition to the “barbaric poetry of America” of the day. His works El canto del cuadrante (1938), La lámpara que anda (1944) and Ars magna (1960) centered on the themes of being, beauty, time, and death.

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Description of Archival Collection (MSH/SCL 1374-0 to 1374-249)

The department's collection of the papers of Emilio Oribe consists largely of work done in the latter part of his life, i.e. the 1950s until his death in 1975. There are speeches, essays, poems, and translations of other poets. In the case of the poems and essays, several include drafts and final copies. There is a series of works on significant Latin American authors including José Enrique Rodó, Julio Herrera y Reissig, and Leopoldo Lugones. Many of the handwritten drafts and typescripts of poems are from Ars magna (1960) and Endiosamiento del instante (1966). The collection was once owned by the literary critic, Isabel Sesto Gilardoni, who wrote Emilio Oribe: el poeta (1981).

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Sesto Gilardoni, Isabel. Emilo Oribe: el poeta . Montevideo: Barreiro y Ramos, 1981. (Hesburgh Library General Collection: PQ 8519 .O69 Z5 1981)

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