I met Danubio thanks to Octavio Paz in the magazine Plural at the end of 1974. He was less than thirty years old, but he carried on as if he were much older. He seemed tall. It wasn’t that much. He was slim. Uncompromising and elegant. He liked to be well dressed. He came from Uruguay. As a teenager, in his native Rocha, he read the writers of South, particularly Jorge Luis Borges. He had worked in March. He had been trained by Ángel Rama and above all by Emir Rodríguez Monegal, who could be said to have been his first teachers in the art of reading. In Uruguay he met Ida Vitale and read the great poets of that country, such as Juana de Ibarbourou. In 1968, at the age of twenty-one, he published Humor and chronicle in Uruguayan literature. The work foreshadowed, in fact, some of the themes and motifs of his later criticism. When he could no longer continue in Montevideo he moved to Mexico.
He seemed to know everything, and he served in the magazine Plural as Editorial Secretary. He had been in the Culture Diorama in it Excelsior by Julio Scherer with Ignacio Solares. She got into everything and knew everyone, or so I thought at the time. We became good friends thanks to Ana María Cama, the editorial coordinator of the magazine. She had a nose. I couldn’t help but associate her figure with that of Jean de Lafontaine’s fox. Observer, “voyeur”, spectator, chronicler, translator, for example, of the Breviary of the FCE autobiography by George May. His sense of literary orientation led him to meet and interact with many of the key writers of the time.
He interviewed, among others, Jorge Luis Borges, Adolfo Bioy Casares, Silvina Ocampo, José Bianco, Juan Goytisolo, Julio Cortázar, Mario Vargas Llosa, Severo Sarduy, Juan Carlos Onetti, Nélida Piñón, Guillermo Cabrera Infante, Haroldo de Campos, Carlos Barral , Elizabeth Bishop, Manuel Puig, Pablo Antonio Cuadra, Juan García Ponce, Salvador Elizondo, Cornelius Castoriadis, Carlos Fuentes and Juan Goytisolo –of whom he was a close friend and whose praise he gave when the Spaniard received the Octavio Paz award in 2002, in addition to writing his obituary. Those were some of those interviewed and portrayed by Danubio Torres Fierro, who seemed to be putting together a map of the Latin American literary world with his dialogues and portraits drawn with a tense pen and, it should be emphasized, an incisive style.
Now I think that Danubio lived himself as a master of ceremonies of the great Latin American literary festival. He was interested in the surface, but also in the subsoil and in the secret keys that run through the fragmented body of Latin American cities and our region in a permanent search for their identity. Before the open veins of the continent, he was interested in his secret discomforts, his uncomfortable figures. It cannot be forgotten that he was the author of a literary autobiography entitled sacred strategies, in which he portrays his youthful years in Barcelona. The book was reviewed by Julieta Campos. Torres Fierro was a man of networks and, at the same time, a connoisseur of the gaps and holes in the history and letters of our continent marked by migrations and miscegenations. He knew that in Latin America times, geographies, castes and families coexist.
He wrote about Luis Cernuda, Jaime Gil de Biedma, Machado de Assis, Lionel Trilling, Cyril Connolly, Clarice Lispector, Choderlos Laclos, Francois Furet. He was aware of his exiled condition and in 1979 he wrote The territories of exile published by the seal of the Gay Science.
In addition to Pluralwas Editorial Secretary of the University Magazine at the time it was directed by Julieta Campos, between 1980 and 1985, and editorial secretary of Latin American Tour. published in The countryin keys, directed by Fernando Savater and Javier Pradera. At the end of his life he published two important books: Counterpoints. Half a century of Latin American literatureedited by Taurus in 2017 and End of cycle. literary testamentspublished in 2021. Before, in 1986, he had published plural memory. Interviews with Latin American writers.
The set is amazing. In counterpointshis friend Rodrigo Martínez Baracs recognized an exceptionally successful book in which a constellation of thirty leading writers from Latin America and Spain converge and a critical gaze aware of the vast and rich literary cartography of which he had to be a witness and I would say a historian. In addition to knowing Latin American literature by heart, Torres was aware of the history of Brazilian letters, as evidenced by his friendship with the poet and critic Horacio Costa. One of his friends was Suzanne Jill Levine, the translator of Guillermo Cabrera Infante and Jorge Luis Borges into English. He was not only interested in letters, but also in politics, and he was friends with the Uruguayan president Julio María Sanguinetti and with the Mexican politician Enrique González Pedrero.
The set of interviews, portraits and dialogues written and transcribed by Danubio Torres Fierro draws, yes, a literary and poetic cartography. With each of these encounters, he puts together a portrait of a time when literature was lived as a party and a ceremony based on the pact of reading and concord, intelligence and lucidity.
Torres Fierro interviewed Octavio Paz in August 1991, after the award of the Nobel Prize. The interview summarizes the poet’s ideas about the history of Mexico and the world and sheds light on the movement or stagnation of politics at that time and even today. It is collected in volume XV of the complete works. To his intelligent skill we also owe the anthologies Octavio Paz in Spain (1937) and Octavio Paz, spiral words.
Surely there are scattered in the Latin American and Spanish press not a few pages of this Latin American writer, interviewer and memoirist, disciple of the Duke of Saint-Simon and Cardinal de Retz, figures whom i admired:
I particularly like the French very much, for example, the Count of Saint-Simon, his memoirs from the time of the Louises, in France, seem to me to be a monument of literature; there you can see, in that book by Saint-Simon, that the radiance of a world appears, but at the same time, the swan song of that world. All memories have something of that, exalted recovery of a moment, and at the same time the melancholy of something that is fading away. In that sense, I also like the memoirs of Cardinal de Retz (Jean-François Paul de Gondi).
Gardener of the twilight of a literary city that he knew like few others, Danubio was a man of taste, passionate about letters and history, eager to know the territories of the voice, which he kept in his Latin American cupboard with a rare tasteful rigor. and almost musical. He only wrote for pleasure and that pleasure is palpable in what he did. Lucid until the last moment, he left the scene with the clear conscience of having left his will well done.
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Danubio Torres Fierro (1947-2022) | Free lyrics