It remained for Ricardo Güiraldes (1886-1927) to do the perfect portrait of the gaucho in Estancia La Porteña in prose. This was a man of superb talent.

 

His father was a rich estanciero and he was born in Buenos Aires in 1886. He was taken to a Tour to Europe when very young and so spoke French and German as fluently as his native tongue.

From early boyhood his life was spent on the estancia where he learned the secrets of saddle and trail from a grand old gaucho of the primitive school. Who was later to be the model for Don Segundo Sonmbra.

 

en puerto pollensa

 

As a young man he made many tours abroad and became as much at home in Paris as he was in Buenos Aires : but he was never an expatriate.

In 1915 he made his literary debut with two books a collection of short stories, Cuentos de muerte y de sangre, and a small volume of poems, El Cencerro de cristal, both of which showed contemporary French influence.
An autobiography, Raucho (1917), followed, and then Rosaura (1917) and Xaimaca (1923), but none of them created any particular stir.

 

Ricardo paisano

 

However they did serve to gather around him a group of young writers who launched a literary magazine of protest in 1924, called Proa, that reflected an anomalous melange of ultra French trends with a groping nationalism that took fresh interest in the Argentine background and folklore.

This brought about a back-to-the-soil movement under the banner of Martin Fierro and probably inspired Güiraldes to begin the book that was to make his reputation.

 

In bad health he went to live at Estancia La Porteña , the family estancia, and there renewed his intimacy with the sturdy old gaucho who had been the mentor of his youth.

 

Each morning he went to a ancient ombú near the house, to write of his boyhood life when he wandered the pampas with the old cattleman. It served to brush away dark thoughts, and he worked feverishly because he knew he was doomed.

With simplicity and sincerity he told of his flight with Don Segundo Sombra and of the five years they spent together roaming the pampa of Buenos Aires.

It is hardly a novel; rather a succession of delightfully told impressions that flitter through the pages like movie episodes across the screen, yet give a vivid and human picture of every facet of gaucho life and point of view.

There is no love interest, only a boy´s hero-worship for Don Segundo –a character superbly drawn with lean restraint – and the transformation of an eager youth into a man possessed of virtues of courage, quixotic sportsmanship, and innate personal dignity. It is done with a sympathy and insight known only to genius.

 

estampilla ricardo

 

Don Segundo Sombra (1926) had an immediate success in Buenos Aires and the rest of Argentina, for it was colored with the same sort or enchantment that made Huckleberry Finn immortal.

Ricardo Güiraldes had little time in which to savor his success, for he died within a year of the publication of his great work.

 

His funeral in San Antonio de Areco was a tribute to the integrity of the picture he had drawn, for 250 sad and silent gauchos, mounted on horses of every color, their silver bridles scintillating through the thin dust raised by a thousand hoofs, followed his coffin to the grave.

 

by Edward Larocque Tinker: Reference in Wikipedia

 

If you plan a visit to Estancia La Porteña : Tour to San Antonio de Areco & Estancia

 

More about Gaucho culture: The Gaucho Experience