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Biography: The Life of the literature legend, Ernesto Sabato

An early photograph of writer Ernesto Sabato.

Ernesto Sabato came from a Calabrian roots and was born on June 24 in 1911. He was the tenth child out of eleven to be born into his family. His mother Juana María Ferrari and his father Francisco Sábato lived together with all of their children in Rojas, in the province of Buenos Aires.

Days before he was born, on the June 24 in 1911, a brother of his who was two years-old, also named Ernesto, died – an occurrence which marked the man who became such an influential writer, for the rest of his life.

After spending his infancy in Rojas he eventually moved to La Plata to go to secondary school before moving onto university. He enrolled in the Science Physics and Maths Faculty at the National University of La Plata in 1929.There he began to dip into so some political roles, being involved in a passive military movement called University Reform.

During his time at university he explored different political spectrums, and when he gained an insight into communism he began to have doubts about the politics of Stalin’s regime. From there he decided to go to study at the Lenin schools in Moscow for two years, which he described as, “a place where you would be cured, or end up in a psychiatric hospital.”

He returned to Buenos Aires in 1936 and married Matilde Kusminsky Richter, to then obtain his Doctorate in Physics from the National University of La Plata in 1938.

He then was granted time in Paris to do research on atomic radiation. His first child Jorge Federico was born later that year.

While he lived in Paris he came across a surrealist movement and was in the company of men such as Óscar Domínguez, whom later largely influenced his literary works.

After a period in the US he came back to Argentina and in 1941 he began to publish literary works in the form of short articles for magazines, and in 1945 he published his first book, Uno y el Universo. Toward the end of the Second World War, in that same year, his second son Mario Sabato was born.

The years between the publishing of “The Tunnel” (1948), “Of Heroes and Graves'' (1961) and ''Abadon, the Exterminator'' (1974), were hugely important for Sabato as a writer. Films were made from his works, and he also became a highly regarded author across the globe.

For example in 1976 he won an award for “Best Foreign Book” in Paris for ''Abadon, the Exterminator''. He also won the Jerusalem Prize for writings and activities that “express the freedom of the individual in society,” in 1989. He then went on to win and be nominated for many other awards.

Alongside then-president Raúl Alfonsín, he was appointed head of the CONADEP through 1983-1984. This investigation resulted in the writing of the book, “Never Again” (Nunca Mas), which opened many trials for those who were disappeared during the dictatorship. The great literature figure was a speaker for and an example of values strongly yearned by a society plagued by the military dictatorship and then by increasing Neo-Liberalism during the 90s.

His main message concentrated on young people saying, “only those who are capable of becoming that utopia – will be prepared to be decisive and fight, to recuperate the human beings we’ve lost”.

In 1995 his son Jorge Federico died, followed by his wife in 1998 and he published his memoirs under the title “Before the end”.

Since 1945 he had been living in Santos Lugares in the Buenos Aires Province. For the last few years before he died he had dedicated his time to painting, as doctors had ordered him disabled him from reading or writing.


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Tags:  Ernesto Sabato  Argentine writer  literature  Book Fair  


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