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Leopoldo Marechal and Adan Buenosayres in State of Exile.

Biografia de poeta
Por eso, quien alabe mi alegria
debe ignorar que se trenzo de olvidos,
y quien se anime a compartir mi danza
no ha de saber que olvidos juiciosos la construyen.

Yo no intente jamas la fortuna de un baile
sin que algun segador me cortara los pies.
Y si mi canto remonto algun cielo,
fue para derrumbarse ante mis ojos
con un temblor de pluma ensangrentada.

No bien el enemigo abandono
su lanzadera en el telar del odio,
un sueno de gusano cayo sobre mi alma
bien defendida por su cascaron

Heptameron (1: 351-357)


LEOPOLDO Marechal (1900-1970), author of the novel Adan Buenosayres (1948), was exiled without ever leaving the confines of his own city, Buenos Aires. His name, however, does not appear in the comprehensive list of exiles catalogued in Literary Exile in the Twentieth Century, edited by Martin Tucker. The list contains the names of over 3000 literary figures from all over the world who experienced exile for different reasons: cultural, personal, social, political or religious. Although Marechal's condition of exile involved some of these reasons, he never actually left his homeland. Yet, during the fifties and part of the sixties, the author and his first novel vanished. Marechal disappeared from the public eye to the point that people began to think he was dead. At the same time, Adan Buenosayres rested on the warehouse of the publishing company. The innovative novel had to await a new literary group of critics, one distanced from the political zeal that surrounded Peronismo.

Leopoldo Marechal was part of the avant-garde group that, along with Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986) and other notable figures, in the 1920s, contributed to the literary circles of Martin Fierro. The magazine, directed by Evar Mendez, attracted the rebellious and playful young artists who were committed to new forms of expression. At the time in Buenos Aires, two groups, Boedo and Florida, disputed the control of the literary space. Both were equally innovative and nationalistic but held different approaches toward art: while members of group Boedo were concerned with social issues and placed the working class at the center of their fictional work, Florida was more concerned with literature and aesthetics itself. The first one appealed to a broader audience, the second one, to an elitist minority. However, the dividing line was not always clear-cut: some members interacted with both groups. They all sought literary renovation and the public legitimization of their artistic professions. Having lost the privileged position intellectuals occupied in previous decades, they needed to reposition themselves and were attempting to redefine their role. They stopped being "estadistas" to become artists (Masiello 13). This transitional period coincided with a growing middle class and the rising of a working class mostly of European descent. The next decades made visible a new working class coming from the provinces, less "cultured" when measure by European standards, and until then disregarded by the intellectuals. It was the beginning of a new political era that would shape a new breed of intellectuals. While during the twenties the battles among the intellectual community remained concerned primarily with forms of expression, during the thirties, the environment became more politicized.

The decade of the 1930s was inaugurated by the first military coup since the constitution of the State. Fearful of the populism that had accompanied Hipolito Irigoyen (1852-1933), the oligarchy and the intellectuals, fueled by nationalistic right wing sentiment, supported the coup against the leader of the Partido Radical. Maristella Svampa asserts that this historical moment signaled the "impossibility of articulating the political and the social" (182). In addition, the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) and the declaration of the Second World War (1939-1945) elicited strong divisions that led to frictions. A divided intellectual class that included liberals, traditional hispanists and revisionists characterized this decade. Many of them were welcomed at Sur, the most influential cultural publication of the time. Since its inception, in 1931, the literary magazine fostered the development of a cultural elite and was opened to national and international contributors with different ideologies. However, the convivial debates hosted by Sur became more contentious toward the end of the decade.

By the 1940s, change was imminent. The discontent generated by the tumultuous thirties, known as the "decada infame" for its electoral fraud and political corruption, peaked and the leadership of Juan Domingo Peron (18951974) emerged. His popular appeal, consolidated in October 1945, carried him to the presidency in, 1946. Marechal sided with Peron's "doctrina justicialista" also known as "Justicialismo". Justicialismo was, in Peron's own words, "una nueva filosofia de la vida, simple, practica, popular, profundamente Cristiana y profundamente humanista" (Peron en doctrina 63). He described it as being a "third position", between individualism and collectivism, a new system that would improve individuals' lives as well as that of the society as a whole. It proposed a more just distribution of wealth to guarantee a better quality of life for all its citizens. Marechal publicly supported the movement, a choice that contributed to his marginalization from the dominant literary circles, most of which adopted an anti-peronist stance. Adan Buenosayres, published during the first years of Peron's government, ridiculed some important members of the literary elite. Marechal had begun to write the novel in the early thirties and finished it in the late forties. It is a totalizing novel capturing Argentina's socio-political environment. Furthermore, the novel is symptomatic of the instability and fractures emerging within the cultural elite and the isolation to which Marechal was subjected even before his marginalization became obvious. The novel followed the fate of its creator: both would equally enter exile and a subsequent state of indefinite death, for to be cast out is to enter a state of impermanence.

From the beginning of human history, exile has played a significant role in both social and spiritual experience. For example, in Judeo-Christian stories, the first exiles were Adam and Eve, who were expelled from Paradise into a life of suffering. Condemned to ignominy and erased physically and literally, after their expulsion almost nothing would be known about them. Throughout human history, examples of exile abound and the motivations vary: to disapprove or control, to punish or reprimand, to restrain dissent or admonish trespass. To be exiled is to be thrown out from the center. Athens, Rome, Florence, centers of Western culture at different moments, saw various practices intended to banish some of their citizens. These practices ranged from moderate methods of expulsion such as Athenian Ostracism, described by Sara Forsdyke as a "a limited, lawful form of exile", which did not deprive the exile from his or her possessions, to violent spectacles between opposing elites (145). It rarely led to the death penalty, the ultimate form of exclusion, mostly carried out in revolutionary times. To counteract the impotence imposed by exclusion, some found solace in writing. Writing created an interlocutor and allowed the exile to pour out a wide range of emotions, from loneliness and self-pity to anger and revenge. The writings of Cicero (106-43 BC) and Ovid (43BC-17AD), both of whom were expelled from Rome, follow this pattern. Jo-Marie Claassen explains that while Cicero left a strong psychological portrait of the desperate exile, Ovid's poetry immortalized the universal mythical aspect of the exile. Moreover, in Ovid's writings, the exile reproves the person, indirectly portrayed, who banished him. In the case of Cicero, Claassen also draws attention to his post exile writings, for, once he had regained his position of power, he unleashed his invective harangue. To uphold and to appeal, to attack and to recriminate, literature produced by exiles has constituted a mode of resistance. The works of Boethius (480-524) and Dante (1265-1321), Consolation of Philosophy and the Divine Comedy, respectively, are good examples of resistance through inner assertion and self-discovery. Writing palliates the barriers that impede direct communication by addressing an absent interlocutor who is forced into the framed dialogue and who can fill different functions: confidante, consoler, antagonist. Whether there is an "I" personae or whether it is written in the third person, writing allows the exile to reinstate him or herself at the center, even when that centrality may only be literary.

To be exiled is to be thrown out from the land or cut off from communal life. In Florence, dominant families resorted to exile as a weapon to debilitate opposition. The disputes between Guelphs and Guibellines, followed by the internal division into White and Black Guelphs, led to Dante's exile, in 1301. In his study about politics of exclusion during the Renaissance, Fabrizio Ricciardelli explains that decades later, it was the Ricci and the Albizzi who disputed dominance over Florence, one favoring the lower strata of the population, the other the upper classes. Their rivalry ended with the Albizzi taking control of the government and the subsequent exclusion from public office of the Ricci. Similar dynamic came into play among the intellectual community of Argentina after the 1930s. While members of various groups began to consolidate around Sur, others faded away. Arturo Jauretche states that, "una promocion entera de escritores desaparecio del primer plano... [condenados al] ostracismo". Institutionally established or informally conducted as an indirect practice of exclusion, the consequences of expulsion always lead to annihilation. In the case of Marechal, while he did not leave Buenos Aires nor did he officially lose any of his rights, as did some of his European counterparts in previous centuries, for decades, he suffered from an exilic existence that affected him emotionally and monetarily. Early signs of emotional emptiness can be traced in Adan Buenosayres, a novel that was initially condemned to both artistic and economic failure. This novel, which took almost two decades to be completed, embraces the condition of being an exile while simultaneously anticipating it.

Adan Buenosayres channels feelings that often accompany exilic literature, particularly the sense of disconnection and the desire for revenge, even when that revenge is conveyed through humor. I am not arguing that this novel belongs to an exilic subgenre, such as it might be with Cicero's writings in exile or Ovid's exilic poetry. I am recognizing that it reveals signs of a man entering a state of exile. Exile has metaphorically been equated with death in so far as both cause a cessation and dislocation. Life for the exile no longer is as it was, for the displacement of the body from the public space makes the exile invisible to society. Beginning with the funeral of Adan the novel goes on to tell the story of the last adventures of the protagonist and his friends. The death of Adan creates discontinuity. It implies the end of friendship, which can only be sustained by presence. Beyond that, there is a second stage: the separation between matter and spirit. The body is no longer where the heart and the mind are; consequently, the individual feels fragmented. Emotional distress accompanies physical alienation. Adan Buenosayres is a dismembered text constituted by three main narratives: one focused on friendship (pathos), the second on spiritual growth (logos), and the third on society (ethos). The first part of the novel (books first through fifth) ends with Adan entering into sleep and beginning to dream. The second part, book sixth, known as el Cuaderno de Tapas Azules, emphasizes the spiritual search of the protagonist. Finally, book seventh, known as Viaje a la oscura ciudad de Cacodelphia, describes the oneiric trip where Adan encounters all the members of society. Both death and dream have the effect of removing Adan from the physical and the social world.

Due to the nightmarish quality of Cacodelphia, it is possible to assume that this is the dream that the reader learns of earlier in the narrative. Similarly to Dante's Inferno, the travelers of Cacodelphia, Adan and his friend, Schultze, descend through nine spirals divided in sectors, or "barrios", preceded by a sort of limbo. Cacodelphia's limbo is "un arrabal" inhabited by "el pobre Demos ... el suburbio de los irresponsables" (AB (1) 351). While Adan acknowledges the possibility of following "the traces of Ulysses, Eneas, Alighieri and other infernal tourists" (my translation (2) 343), Schultze describes the place as "un conohueco-invertido, al que llame Divicono, dentro del cual se ubicarian los cacodelphenses [...] los mas densos ocuparian el fondo ..." (349). Unlike the adventurous trip to Saavedra, described in the first part of the novel, the one that takes place in Cacodelphia separates Adan from most of his friends. He no longer walks with them but rather passes by them as if they were on exhibit, captives of the oneiric city. Instead, he follows Schultze, who commands the authority of a Virgilian figure and a tour guide capable of keeping him safe. Schultze is the only one of the group of friends spared from the author's wrath.

Adan Buenosayres begins with the burial of the protagonist--death as the ultimate form of exile. However, the narrator breathes life into Adan by including a biographical account of his last days. The addendum includes the testamentary voice of the manuscripts left by the poet. In an Ovidian move that is both autobiographical and vindictive, Adan functions as the foil for Marechal's voice. In this way, the novel immortalizes not only Adan but also Leopoldo Marechal and his relationship with his colleagues. In Ovid's literature of exile, "the reader is left with a strongly negative picture of the emperor. .." (Claassen 30). In Marechal's novel, society in general is chastised; however, it is Adan's friends who appear in an even more unfavorable light. Some of his former friends, members of the literary "grupo martinfierrista", occupy the lower spirals of Cacodelphia, where they presumably remain forever. Except for Bernini, and incidentally La Ultra--who is a clear allusion to Victoria Ocampo--occupying only the second spiral, Pereda, Solar and Franky occupy the seventh spiral, the level of rage. Adan narrates:

Entonces asociando mis recuerdos literarios a la reciente disertacion del astrologo, entendi que la curva nos estaba llevando al circulo infernal de la Ira.... Con gran asombro reconoci la de Franky Amundsen en aquella voz y sobre todo en aquel grito de filibusteria literaria. Volviendo mis ojos al primer vigia, tambien reconoci a Del Solar.... [En otro sector] a quien sino a nuestro seguro, ilustre y nunca suficientemente alabado compinche Luis Pereda? (AB 483-502)

Other characters inhabit this level, for example, "el Hombre de los Ojos Intelectuales" and "el tunicado violeta"--both referencial authorial characters. Tesler is in the eighth circle, the level of conceit, and so are Franky and Don Ecumenico, the latter a figure that similarly embodies the author. The only one who seems spared is Shultze, though Del Solar, his double, is not. Since Schultze is the creator of Cacodelphia, it is more likely he will find his way out. The point I am trying to make is that the treatment to which the protagonists are subjected, even if humorous, reveals a vengeful author. Adan himself recognizes that Schultze's invention is "tan absurda como maliciosa ... una maldad sin limites" (471). Underneath humor, laughter functions as an antidote to alienation.

The novel also speaks of loneliness, particularly until Adan, like Boethius, achieves his inner transformation. He is not satisfied with his existence and expresses a sense of something missing, a concern for his inner life: " Bien hubiera querido tener a mano un interlocutor tan ilustre como el de Boecio! O siquiera el bicharraco de Poe [...]! A falta del uno y del otro, Adan resolvio dialogar consigo mismo" (AB 19). Adan is a solitary man, not always understood by his colleagues, who do not grasp his poetics. In addition, the Hombre de los Ojos Intelectuales and Don Ecumenico, oneiric figures that can be understood as avatars for Adan and Leopoldo Marechal, are characters representing lonely men who suffer from seclusion: insanity overtakes the first one while literary obsession consumes the second.

Exilic literature written from exile tends to look at the happier days of the past, to describe a miserable present or to anticipate the possibilities of a better future. In Adan Buenosayres, Marechal traces the lyric memory of the child living in Maipu and the playful time of the young intellectuals of the "martinfierriesta" years; simultaneously, he enters into the tortuous present of Cacodelphia, from which it is not evident he will emerge. While there are concrete references to the past and the present, the future is uncertain. The novel ends with Adan and Schultze in the ninth circle, "al borde mismo de la Gran Hoya en que terminaba el Infierno schultziano" (AB 561). Two dimensions run parallel, a physical-social and a spiritual-personal. Only the latter, relating to the individual, gets resolved. Recalled in the Cuaderno de Tapas Azules, Adan's inner development functions as a form of resistance that calls to mind that of Boethius. However, while the Roman Christian philosopher found the Dame Philosophiae who helped him through his tribulations, Adan pursues an idealized woman, Solveig, who disappoints him. Far from the warmth that the etymology of her name implies, she dissolves like ice. When Adan realizes that Solveig is a superficial young girl, he understands that spiritual warmth will not come from a physical being. He is then able to regain strength and hopes for his personal future. He says: "Desde entonces mi vida tiene un rumbo certero y una certera esperanza" (342). Clearly, while the individual life of the protagonist, Adan, reaches an organic spiritual resolution, the social dimension remains unresolved. All the characters including the protagonists are thrown into Cacodelphia, from which only Adan and Schultze seem to have the possibility of escaping.

In addition to foretelling the condition of exile that befell the author, Adan Buenosayres reveals the condition of marginality of the intelligentsia itself and the elusiveness of the artist who, while trying to explore the problems of his time, remains aloof. The incursion of Adan and his friends into various circles of society that reject them speaks of the inadequacies of the intellectuals. While the members of the group occupy literary centrality, they remain at the margin of their own society. In reference to the peronist phenomenon, Lloyd Hughes Davies points out that while some intellectuals were attracted to Peronismo for the "concreteness of Argentinidad ... Peron has called into existence" others "continue with abstract rumination about Argentinidad" (37). Marechal was caught in the interstice: on one hand he had been part of the literary group, on the other he was sensitive to the concrete needs of his countrymen. The novel depicts both aspects: on one side, a prosperous society, made of established immigrants and internal migrants, all vibrant members of the vigorous city; on the other, the group of intellectuals, debating literary and social theories. Adan is at the threshold of both worlds.


A definition of Peronismo has proven challenging even for historians who often resort to describing it rather than defining it. Essentially, it was a populist movement with strong repercussions. Peron embraced the popular sector, until then repudiated or ignored, or taken for granted by the various fronts. Peron's Justicialismo is at the core of his movement. Justicialismo, etymologically rooted on the word justice, refers to social justice. In Argentina: la democracia de masas, Halperin Donghi notes that Peron's agenda, though not always supported by sound plans, proposed concrete and radical measures that appealed both to urban and rural workers. His policies confronted the upper classes: in the countryside, landowners felt the intrusion of the State with the "Estatuto del peon" (a labor legislation that regulated the conditions of the rural worker); in the city, the usurpation of public places until then reserved to them, by the new social actors. Peronismo changed Argentine society socioeconomically, politically and culturally. Before Peron, to different degrees, the oligarchy had always remained, if not close to the government, at least indifferent. Its power had been seldom challenged. Peronismo displaced it from its privileged position. Peronismo imposed economic and cultural redistribution that affected all levels of society. Its motto was that everyone should have access to the same benefits (health, housing, leisure). There is no doubt that Peronismo improved the living conditions for many Argentines, but this came at a very high price. Peron's "doctrina justicialista" was geared toward personal and spiritual happiness. In principle, the goal was laudable but it became tarnished by populist propagandistic measures. Peron's populist measures did not set well with everyone. Antagonism divided the intellectual community into two groups: those who supported Peronismo and those who did not.

Inspired by Peron's social justice program, Leopoldo Marechal and other notable intellectuals, such as the writer and politician Arturo Jauretche, the philosopher Carlos Astrada, and the sociologist Scalabrini Ortiz, embraced Peronismo. For better or worse, this choice marked Marechal's destiny. He publicly declared his support in 1945. He later explained: "Decidi, con mis hechos y palabras, declarar publicamente mi adhesion al movimiento y respaldarla con mi prestigio intelectual, que ya era mucho en el pais ..." (quoted in Colla 574). Since the beginning of the movement, he was attracted to the promise of the spiritual betterment of the masses through culture. In his Proyecciones Culturales del Momento Argentino (1947), Marechal says: "Dentro del conjunto social los creadores forman, empero una minoria, una elite, que puede ser fecunda si con su actividad trasciende a los otros, o puede malograrse en el esteril aislamiento de una 'torre de marfil'"(5: 136). Marechal believed in Peron's leadership and that his third position was conducive to "lograr una adecuacion del Estado a los intereses del Hombre" (5: 133). In Adan Buenosayres, Adan asks " Que pueblo es ese que tanto se agita en la llanura?" and Schultze answers: "Es el pobre Demos [...] inclinado igualmente al bien y al mal [...] Pero con ese mismo barro un Neogogo hara maravillas" (AB 351). It is implicit that with good leadership the character of Argentine people--the masses--would improve. Film director Manuel Antin believes that Marechal's political attitude was romantic and naive (interview). According to this argument, Marechal overlooked the ominous effects of Peron and Eva's authoritarian regime.

Marechal truly believed in the intrinsic value of Christian and social justice embedded in and promised by Peronismo. His closest disciple and friend Jose Maria Castineira de Dios, who was a militant Peronist, emphasizes that the positions occupied by Marechal during Peron's government were beneath a man of his intellectual stature, "eran nada para el" (interview). Marechal did not benefit much from this affiliation, for he never occupied political positions. On the contrary, from the position of Director de la Direccion de Cultura he was reduced to Director de Ensenanza Artistica, which he did not regret. Rather, interested in pursuing inner and artistic growth, he expressed contentment with the situation. However, his alienation grew and his professional opportunities deteriorated. The state of exile that had begun during the peronist years extended far beyond Peron's demise, prolonged by the Revolucion Libertadora of 1955 that threw him from power.


During Peron's first government, in the mid-forties and fifties, Marechal experienced dual exile. On one hand, his populist comrades ignored him; on the other, his intellectual equals marginalize him. The first were unable to appreciate his art, the latter unwilling to accept that Peronismo could attract or produce high intellectualism. Peronists did not appreciate or care much about Marechal's works. Horacio Salas has remarked, "A Peron no le interesaba la cultura" (interview). He goes further to generalize that politicians in Argentina, even today, do not care for the state of culture. Peron marginalized the intellectuals, even those that followed him. He demanded absolute support of his persona and government and, according to Flavia Fiorucci, did not make the intellectuals participants in his project. Marechal recognized, in an interview conducted in the sixties by Alfredo Andres, that,
   El movimiento me ignoro. Y lo justifico, porque estaba sobre todo
   preocupado por solucionar problemas economicos mas perentorios
   [...] los peronistas ignoraron mi existencia: ponian el acento
   sobre los aspectos populistas de la cultura. Asi, produjeron
   factores irritantes que habia que evitar. Yo no creo, por ejemplo,
   que la orquesta del Colon debio emplearse para tocar tangos. (62)

Marechal never sacrificed his integrity. He never used his political connections. This, according to Dr. Alberto Cequetti, may have disgusted some people. Cequetti, who worked for him at the Direccion de Ensenanza Artistica, when Marechal was the director, tells me:
   Entre algunos, existia quizas una especie de fastidio por la
   situacion que tenia Marechal y que no aprovechaba. El era incapaz
   de hacer designaciones de personas ni de acaparar posibilidades
   politicas. Jamas pidio nada a nadie. Marechal era un hombre muy
   modesto economicamente, los bienes que poseia eran los que le
   permitian su trabajo diario. Cuando cobraba decia: "Me voy al banco
   a cobrar antes de que se acabe la plata." Por eso pienso, lo

Marechal remained a Peronist all his life for he thought that the "doctrina justicialista" was the best solution for Argentina. Salas tells an anecdote about a time in the mid-sixties: "Marechal sent Peron (who was exiled in Spain) a copy of his second novel, El Banquete de Severo Arcangelo, and Peron wrote him back but misspelled his last name. Marechal excused him and said--'Vamos a corregirle al jefe porque sino van a decir que Peron no sabia quien era yo.... El jefe tiene otras prioridades.' And Marechal corrected it." His attitude toward Peronismo was that of a fervent believer.

In addition to being ignored by his peronist counterparts, his hard-line anti-peronist colleagues could not forgive him for his alliance to Peronismo. The anti-peronist front, composed of intellectuals from different ideologies, was intransigent. According to Castineira de Dios, the Socialist party had always been at odds with Peronismo. He declares: "nunca nos perdono ni nos perdonara que le ganaramos de mano. Creimos en una justicia humana, concreta, no literaria. No necesitabamos leer a Marx... " (interview). Peronismo was criticized from Left to Right. Marechal recognized a "fobia minoritaria" (Cuaderno de Navegacion 157) that persisted even after Peron's demise. Peronismo, the first popular demonstration since the beginning of the nation (159), brought down the oligarchic minority that had governed the country since Caseros. After Peronismo, the old oligarchy never recovered its privileged platform, nor was the Left ever able to secure mass support.

In 1948, when Adan Buenosayres was first published, Marechal received harsh criticism followed by damning silence, both equally devastating to the author and his novel. Not all the commentary was negative. For example, a review published in Realidad, in 1949, by Julio Cortazar, recognized the innovative quality of the novel and its linguistic richness. However, it was Gonzalez Lanuza's review, published in Sur, in 1948, that carried the greatest authority. Succinct, caustic and sarcastic, it was the only critique that appeared in Sur. It described the book as "the Ulysses written by Father Coloma flavored by abundant manure" (AB 878). Its impact was significant, for Sur represented the hegemonic group with the literary power to promote new works. Lanuza himself sealed the fate of the novel when he said that the "Adan Buenosayres will corrode for centuries in the dust of the libraries" (877). He extended his critique by accusing Marechal of being a public official who had orthodox principles. As a result, both Adan Buenosayres and its creator were condemned to oblivion. For years, the copies of the first edition rested on the shelves of Sudamericana, alone, with no readers.

Marechal's condition of exile was both externally enforced and internally self-imposed. Even before Peron was overthrown, Marechal became reclusive. A series of circumstances contributed to his withdrawal: the rejection from his peers, the death of his wife in 1947, and, finally, his involvement with Elvia Rosbaco, a circumstance that alienated him further both from family and from colleagues. Apparently, he did not frequent the artist Quinquela's lunches, as many of his colleagues did. According to Jose Maria Castineira de Dios, he did not share the same artistic sensibilities as the other artists. However, Alberto Cequetti recalls that Marechal had mentioned being at some of those social gatherings. Can we trust Cequetti's memory? Did Marechal attend Quinquela's lunches or not? Castineira de Dios's testimony is more plausible, for Marechal's name does not appear on La orden del tornillo's list nor in the available photos. So, is Cequetti imagining an event that never occurred, or did Marechal lie? And if he did lie, why? These questions may never be answered.

According to various testimonies of Marechal's close friends and acquaintances, after the Revolucion Libertadora, particularly during the second half of the fifties, he withdrew from social life. Since antiquity, self-imposed exile has been pre-emptive in order to avoid harsher punishment: Cicero's retreat from Rome in 58 BC, and, earlier, Aristotle's departure from Athens to avoid following Socrates's fate. It is reasonable to assume that Marechal might have feared for his life. People who visited him remembered how suspicious Elbia, Marechal's companion, (3) acted. Before letting anybody in, she cautiously looked through the peephole. Moreover, in 1956, his apartment had been the meeting place where peronist General Juan Jose Valle and other conspirators drew up the patriotic manifesto against Pedro Eugenio Aramburu, representative of the Revolucion Libertadora. Castineira de Dios recalls that meeting, which he himself had arranged. He had asked Marechal to lend him the apartment. However, he affirms that Marechal did not participate. He was neither a militant nor a revolutionary. The failure of the counter-revolution resulted in the execution of General Valle and his civilian and military men. Castineira de Dios escaped. He flew with his wife to Mar del Plata, a city 416 kilometers south of Buenos Aires, where they hid for a month in a remote area. The revolt was immortalized in Rodolfo Walsh's Operacion masacre (1957) Marechal was never implicated in the event.

Whether self-imposed from within or inflicted from the outside, Marechal's exile was marked by a deep sense of solitude. Marechal confessed that during that period he experienced great loneliness and emptiness. He described his condition of exile as a "fall", a sort of "civil death or collective assassination". He said, "Casi desde mi 'caida' empece a sentir el gran vacio que se fabricaba en torno de mi: rostros amigos me negaron el saludo en la calle, se me cerraron todas las puertas vitales y literarias, en una especie de 'muerte civil' o asesinato colectivo" (Andres 51). Several of his friends and acquaintances attest to this and to his frugal existence. Salas says "A Marechal le cortaron toda actividad. Ni siquiera iba al cine. El y Elbia se conformaban con leer, y dedicarse al 'robinsonismo'. Marechal estaba muy amargado" (interview). Some of his Catholic acquaintances also turned away from him, possible because he was not legitimately married to Elbia. Not only had he been abandoned for political reasons, but also for dogmatic ones.


During the first decades of the twentieth century, Argentine intellectuals became more serious about their political views. Political and ideological differences had not mattered before because autonomous literary figures had remained close to the government and the upper classes. They had occupied a privileged position and were integral to shaping the State. However, with the crisis of liberalism, intellectuals begin to change the way they saw their European model and, in turn, they changed the perception of their own place in the cultural map of the world. Intellectuals were becoming more critical of their own roles. In addition, the consolidation and "argentinizacion" of immigration had increased the number of middle class writers who claimed their place in society. In the 1920s, disillusioned with the economic policies of Marcelo T. de Alvear (1868-1942), some intellectuals began to show support for Irigoyen's return, and Borges and Marechal were among them. World affairs, the European wars and the growth of fascist regimes also affected writers' political impassivity.

There were still those who believed that art should not mix with politics. When Evar Mendez found out that some writers were planning to write a letter of support for Irigoyen, he closed Martin Fierro, to prevent his magazine from becoming a medium of political dissent (he sympathized with Alvear). Victoria Ocampo would later take a similar approach in the conduction of Sur. In the 1930s, Sur became the dominant and most prestigious literary magazine. Writers from different ideological backgrounds contributed to the magazine. The almost conciliatory atmosphere encouraged by its Maecenas revealed, states Halperin Donghi, "una ceguera no del todo indeliberada", as if they were removed from the reality taking place outside its doors (La Argentina 88). Halperin goes further to note that the open dialogue was still possible because discussion were more theoretical than practical.

In the thirties, disillusioned both with the national and international state of affairs, some intellectuals became more politically involved and debates became more contentious. National Revisionism questioned the role of the oligarchy and the official story and, in turn, acknowledged the aristocratic Hispanic and Catholic tradition. The new world of affairs provoked strong division of opinions. Halperin remarks, in his book La Argentina y la tormenta del mundo, that the Spanish Civil War deeply affected the intellectual society, particularly Catholics.

Some Catholics, who in earlier years had fully identified with the French philosopher, Jacques Maritain, were dismayed when he did not support the Spanish regime, refusing to see it as a Holy War. Those who supported the Spanish Republic could not contribute to the Catholic magazines. Halperin points out that after Maritain's visit, "Victoria Ocampo became more than a spectator" (103). Sur was apparently fueling the Catholic polemics. The exchange between her magazine and the Catholic Criterio became hostile (104). In addition, Halperin claims that the Second World War brought back to the surface "complex sentiments that were already brooding in Sur" (138).

In the forties, the arrival of Peronismo reduced the intellectual dynamics to a Manichean model. Not only the intellectual community, but society as a whole, was divided into peronist and anti-peronist camps. During the first years of Peronismo, the intelligentsia reinstated the dichotomy inaugurated by Sarmiento a century earlier as the frame to understand the country's cultural and social phenomena, reducing it to either elitist civilization or popular barbarism. This intellectual split resulted in irreconcilable differences that characterized the forties and fifties to the point of making foes of old friends.

When political differences clashed, intellectual strife led to exclusions. Marechal's banishment from the dominant literary circles sheds light on the political animosity that surrounded the peronist decades. Though Marechal, like Ovid, was mostly a poet and a writer, not directly involved in politics, and not a militant activist, his public support of a populist movement provoked anger in many of his literary colleagues. Allowing Marechal's voice would have implied recognition not only of the possibility of Peronismo but also of its legitimacy, which the literary elite refused to acknowledge. Excluding the author meant excluding his work, particularly his Adan Buenosayres. Whether through derision or silence, Marechal's old friends from Grupo Martin Fierro and colleagues, Gonzalez Lanuza and Borges among them, played a role in the novel's fate. The novel, in which Borges himself has a protagonist role, became, due to its humorous effect, a bit of a sweet revenge. The story opens with Pereda/Borges and Tesler/Zimmerman heading the funeral procession of Buenosoayres/Marechal, and it ends with the hellish Cacodelphia where everyone is left to rot. For better or worse, the novel immortalizes the relationship between Marechal and Borges, two equals on different sides of the political trenches. Whereas during their younger years, Marechal and Borges had both pursued literary innovation and expressed mutual support for Irigoyen's political platform, during the years of Peronismo their relationship was fractured forever. While Marechal's position echoed Peronismo, Borges's intolerance echoed the Revolucion Libertadora, both regimes equally authoritarian and infamous.

After the Revolucion Libertadora of 1955, some of the anti-Peronists took it upon themselves to erase any sign of Peronismo. What is not spoken of or remembered dies. Silence became the instrument, if not to destroy, then to exile the memory that Peronismo had ever taken place. Silence as an intellectual strategy for dissidence had already been in place previous to Peron's fall. Jorge Panesi states that, "the form of resistance of both Sur and the Sociedad Argentina de Escritores, during Borges's direction between 1950 and 1953, was abstention from formulating public commentaries or political accusations" (39). One way to accelerate symbolic death is by not saying the person's name. In 1955, the new revolutionary government proscribed Peronismo, and Peron's name was forbidden. A similar fate befell Leopoldo Marechal; by not talking about him or his work, he was condemned to literary death sealing a condition of exile that had begun to manifest itself in earlier years. It is interesting to note that while Marechal was shunned, Borges became more visible. During Peron's government, Borges had emerged as the banner-carrier for anti-Peronismo; after Peron's fall, he stood by the Revolucion Libertadora, determined to erase any vestiges of Peronismo. Marechal, having been a supporter of Justicialismo and a civil servant during Peron's government, would remain in oblivion. However, the plan to wipe out Peronismo failed. Peronist sentiment intensified, and its symbolism only grew stronger. The neglected Adan Buenosayres survived the passing of time and slowly began to find its readers and awaken new academic interest. Since its first edition in 1948, eleven publications have appeared in Spanish, the last one in 2003. Additionally, in 1995, Grasset-Unesco published a French translation, and in 2010, Vallecchi an Italian. Dr. Norman Cheadle is currently working on the English translation.

The relationship between Borges and Marechal was not the only one jeopardized. In an interview conducted in 1996, Ernesto Sabato declared that his relationship with Borges changed during the Revolucion Libertadora. Although Sabato, like Borges, was anti-Peronist, he could not justify the abuses the Revolucion was committing against peronist sympathizers. He publicly criticized it and was severely condemned by his colleagues. In an interview conducted by Maria Esther Gilio, Sabato declared: "A los dos dias salio una larga declaracion de escritores y artistas condenandome, lo que significa que de alguna manera justificaban las torturas". The enmity between Sabato and Borges persisted for years but was finally overcome. He states: "Muchos anos despues hubo una reconciliacion gracias a un joven escritor que logro que hicieramos un dialogo que luego se publico en un libro." (4) Peronismo stirred up divisions that in other cases never healed.

The distance between Borges and Marechal grew bigger. No reconciliation seems to have ever taken place between them, most likely because there was never an explicit quarrel. If Adan Buenosayres were to be interpreted as an insult to some of the real life figures the novel seems to portray, this would only be an interpretation. Even though the character Luis Pereda in the novel alludes to Jorge Luis Borges, identity with the proper name is not fully established. Moreover, the confrontation between Adan and Pereda relates to the literary field, not the political. As for Borges, there is no evidence that he ever directly or publicly maligned Marechal's name. A sense of mutual respect may have leveled the field. Each of them had been successful in constructing their literary aesthetics and achieving recognition. Macedonio Fernandez, who was mutually admired by both Marechal and Borges, had praised the beloved poet, Marechal; and Borges himself had commended Marechal's poetry. (5) Nevertheless, Peronismo/anti-Peronismo forever split them apart. The only possible sign of reconciliation may have taken place at Marechal's funeral. There are various accounts of who came to pay their last respects to Marechal. The most compelling is that of Jose Edmundo Clemente, a mutual friend and colleague of both Borges and Marechal. He broke into tears as he told me the anecdote. Clemente's account can be summarized with Borges's own words: "Por esta politica de mierda nos peleamos todos" (interview). One could conclude that Marechal's unjust exile stood for a story of broken friendships and of forking paths. Moreover, it calls into question the possibility of political indifference and emphasizes the contentious relationship between politics and literature.


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Elena Patricia Picech

Johns Hopkins University


(1) AB stands for the commented edition of Marechals' Adan Buenosayres, Ed. Jorge Raiil Lafforgue and Hector Fernando Colla (Madrid; Nanterre: Allca XX, 1997).

(2) All translations are mine.

(3) Contrary to numerous texts indicating that Elbia Rosbaco was Marechal's legitimate spouse, they were not legally married. That would have been impossible at the time in Argentina, for she was divorced, and divorcees could not remarried. Moreover, Maria de los Angeles Marechal has a copy of Marechal's Death Certificate proving that he never remarried.

(4) He is probably referring to Claves politicas, edited by Rodolfo Alonso and published in Buenos Aires, in 1971.

(5) In 1926, in a review appeared in Martin Fierro, Borges ended his commentary of Dias como flechas: "Leopoldo: Alegria que en toda una manana no cabe, cabe en un renglon de los que escribiste." Transcribed en Leopoldo Marechal Homenaje, (Buenos Aires: Corregidor, 1995) 11-12.
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