"Rise and demand; you are a burning flame.

You are sure to conquer there where the final horizon

Becomes a drop of blood, a drop of life,

Where you will carry the universe on your shoulders,

Where the universe will bear your hope."

 

Happy birthday Miguel Ángel Asturias!

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Miguel Ángel Asturias (October 19, 1899—June 9, 1974) was a Guatemalan novelist, poet, politician, diplomat, and journalist. He is remembered for bringing Guatemala into the eye of mainstream Western cultures. He wrote on the effects of North American agricultural companies on Guatemala, on the mistreatment of indigenous cultures, and on the dictatorships of Latin America. He won the 1967 Nobel Prize for Literature for his novel Hombres de Maize (1949).

MiguelAsturiasAsturias was born in Guatemala City to Ernesto Asturias Girón and María Rosales de Asturias. His parents were of Spanish descent. His father was a well-known lawyer and judge. His father was opposed to the dictator Manuel Estrada Cabrera, and even clashed with his administration over a court case in which he set free some students who had caused a disturbance. He lost his job over the case, and the family was forced to move. Asturias lived on his grandparents' farm. It was there that Asturias first came into contact with the indigenous people of Guatemala.

His family returned to Guatemala City, and after he graduated secondary school, he and some fellow students founded the Popular University, which aimed to bring education to the underprivileged. Asturias went on to get his law degree from the University of San Carlos. During his studies, he wrote his thesis, "The Social Problem of the Indian," for which he received the Gálvez Prize. (Image source)

After he graduated, he moved to Europe, first living in England and soon moving to Paris. There, he began writing poetry and fiction. He became deeply concerned for Mayan culture and began what would become a 40-year-long project to translate the sacred Mayan text The Popol Vuh.

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In 1930, Asturias published his first novel, Leyendas de Guatemala. He finally returned to Guatemala in 1933.

Asturias founded and edited a radio magazine called El diario del aire. He went on to write several volumes of poetry around this time, the first of which was Sonetos (1936).

 

In 1942, he was elected to congress. He became increasingly opposed to then dictator Jorge Ubico, who closed the Popular University. During this period, he wrote El Señor Presidente (1946), which followed an anonymous dictator in an unnamed Latin American country. He based his novel, Hombres de Maize (1949), on his experiences as ambassador to Mexico.

Throughout the course of yet more political upheaval in Guatemala, Asturias' support for Jacobo Árbenz eventually landed him in exile, first in Argentina and later in Italy. It was while he was living in Italy that he published his novel Mulata de Tal (1963).

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Asturias finally regained his Guatemalan citizenship in 1966 after Julio César Méndez Montenegro was democratically elected president.

In 1966, Asturias won the Lenin Peace Prize. In 1967, he won the Nobel Prize for Literature for Hombres de Maize.

Additional Info

  • Birthday Date: Sunday, 19 October 2014
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