Free Women in the Pampas
Maria Rosa Lojo
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Belletristik / Gegenwartsliteratur (ab 1945)
A feminist pioneer, writer, and patron of the arts and literature in Buenos Aires, Victoria Ocampo (1890-1979) was a larger-than-life personality of legendary vitality. A key protagonist in Argentina's rise to world-class status in the arts and sciences, Ocampo leveraged her wealth and social status to found Sur (1931-92), the internationally influential journal of literature, culture, and ideas.Ocampo personally invited many intellectual and artistic celebrities to visit Buenos Aires. Most were men. Some, endowed with egos as outsized as their reputations, tripped and fell into sentimental imbroglios with the strong-willed and beautiful Ocampo. In Free Women in the Pampas the ups and downs of her passionate friendships, debates, and misunderstandings with poet Rabindranath Tagore, philosopher Jose Ortega y Gasset, and the writers Pierre Drieu de la Rochelle, Hermann von Keyserling, and Waldo Frank are witnessed by the fictional Carmen Brey, a Galician-Spanish immigrant whose story is skilfully interwoven with that of Ocampo. Carmen's sympathetic but incisive gaze puts her friend Victoria into perspective against a larger vision of Argentina. Carmen's adventures lead her to social-justice writer Maria Rosa Oliver, the wilder side of the 1920s literary avant-garde (and the now-canonical authors Roberto Arlt, Jorge Luis Borges, and Leopoldo Marechal), the Mapuche people of the pampa, and a ten-year-old Evita Ibarguren, later famous as Eva Peron.Against this broad, inclusive backdrop, the novel vividly depicts Victoria Ocampo's struggle with the strictures of class and gender to find her own voice and vocation as a public intellectual.