Argentina literary vanguard of the 1920s

The 20’s was a very important decade for the Argentinian literature. In the city of Buenos Aires, two groups of avant-garde artists used to meet in two poles of the city. Buenos Aires saw itself divided into two literary sides, each given the name of a street: the avant-garde experimental Florida (named after the famous street in the city centre), and the realist Boedo (named after the name of a street in the suburbs). It was the modern high buildings of the city centre against the small houses of the suburbs.


The writers of Boedo formed the first movement of social realist literature that occurred in Argentina. They had a social vision of art. Notable members of the group were Roberto Mariani, Elías Castelnuovo, Enrique Amorim and Alvaro Yunque, among others had a social vision of art.


Artists from Boedo gave importance to politics and used to express by narrative prose and essays. All were related to realism and communication of social facts, that’s why they thought relationship between art & reality was very important. They oppose romantic literature with no social content.


Conventillo (Tenement)

Crust on the walls and opaque glasses:
Face of a leper is its facade.
Tuberculosis, deformed and anemic
His door , foul mouth , swallowed.
Oh , what a miracle could not make
The human greed did:
Got all that were not Neither air nor light nor water!


The Florida group were more elitist and avant-garde aesthetics promoted. The group included Oliverio Girondo, Jorge Luis Borges, Norah Lange, Leopoldo Marechal and Nicolás Olivari, among others. (Members were known to swap groups though: Nicolás Olivari was originally the co-founder of Boedo before moving later to Florida, and Roberto Arlt frequented gatherings of both groups.)


They gave greater importance to the aesthetic and all their pieces of work have relation to ultraism. They focus on communicate moods and feelings instead of social reality. Art for art’s sake. In this group, the main form of the works were predominated poetry.



I don’t give a darn if women’s breasts are like magnolias or like dried figs; a complexion like a peach or like sandpaper. Importance equal to zero I give to whether they awake with a breath like an aphrodisiac or a breath like insecticide. I am perfectly capable of bearing a nose that would take first prize at a carrot show; but one thing is for sure! And this is irreducible. Under no pretext whatsoever will I forgive them for not knowing how to fly. Any one of them who doesn’t know how to fly is wasting her time trying to seduce me!

This was – and none other – the reason that I fell in love, so madly, with María Luisa.

What did I care about her lips in installments and her sulfurous jealousies? What did I care about her web-footed extremities and her looks that withheld judgment?

María Luisa was truly light as a feather!

From daybreak on, she flew from the bedroom to the kitchen, from the dining room to the pantry. Flying she prepared my bath, my shirt. Flying she did her shopping, her chores…

With what impatience I waited for her to return, flying, from some outing in the surroundings! There far off, lost in the clouds, a little pink dot. “María Luisa! María Luisa!…and in a few seconds, she was there embracing me with her feather-like legs, to carry me, flying, to anyplace at all.

For kilometers in silence we soared on a caress that brought us close to paradise; for hours on end we nested in a cloud, like two angels, and then suddenly, in a loop-the-loop, on a dead leaf, the forced landing of a spasm.

How delightful to have a woman so light…even if she makes us, from time to time, see stars! How voluptuous to pass the days among the clouds…to pass the night on a single flight!

After knowing an ethereal woman, can an earthly woman render us any sort of attraction? Isn’t it true that there is no substantial difference between living with a cow or with a woman who has her buttocks seventy-eight centimeters off the ground?

I, at least, am incapable of understanding the seduction of a pedestrian woman, and no matter how much effort I put into conceiving of it, it is not possible for me to even imagine that love can be made any other way but flying.

Classics never go out of style

Mad Toy by Roberto Arlt is must on your bookshelf if you’re interested in Argentinian literature. This book is Arlt’s first novel. Is set against the chaotic background of Buenos Aires in the early twentieth century. Set in the badlands of adolescence, where acts of theft and betrayal become metaphors for creativity, Mad Toy is equal parts pulp fiction, realism, detective story, expressionist drama, and creative memoir.

 mad toy

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Mercedes - Buenos Aires

Photographer, world traveller & passionate eater. I was born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and I lived & travelled in United Kingdom, New Zealand, New York and South East Asia. Lover of art, aquatic life, artichokes & new socks. I practice ...

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