The leading library of Argentina is the National Library, built in 1810 in Buenos Aires. The library has more than 2 million volumes. Prominent museums in Buenos Aires include the Argentine Museum of Natural Sciences, the National Museum of Fine Arts, the National Museum of Decorative Art, and the Museum of Latin American Art. Elsewhere in Argentina, the city of La Plata has a museum of natural history that is noted for its collections of reptile fossils. Argentine literature, originally a derivative form of Spanish literature, took on a markedly nationalistic flavor in the 19th century when the gaucho heritage asserted itself. The poem Fausto (1866), by Estanisláo del Campo, is a gaucho version of the Faust legend, inspired by the opera Faust by French composer Charles Gounod.
Fausto is one of the best-loved works in Argentine literature. But it was the poem El gaucho Martín Fierro (1872; The Departure of Martin Fierro, 1935) by José Hernández that established the gaucho as a national genre in Argentine literature. Many people consider Martín Fierro the national epic of Argentina. In the sociological essay Facundo (1845; translated 1868), Domingo Faustino Sarmiento studies how the rural life of the Argentine Pampas helped shape the national character. While Sarmiento sympathizes aesthetically and emotionally with the gaucho, he presents a program for national reconstruction through education, European immigration, and technical progress. In the 20th century the gaucho reappears as the protagonist of the novel Don Segundo Sombra (1926; translated as Don Segundo Sombra, Shadows on the Pampas, 1935), by Ricardo Güiraldes.
Other notable Argentine writings from the 20th century include Rayuela (1963; Hopscotch, 1966), a novel by Julio Cortázar that many consider the most important Latin American novel of the 1960s; El beso de la mujer araña (1976; translated as Kiss of the Spider Woman, 1979), a novel by Manuel Puig that was made into a popular motion picture (Kiss of the Spider Woman, 1985); and the stories of Ernesto Sábato. Eduardo Mallea, a novelist who wrote on existentialist themes, and Jorge Luis Borges, internationally renowned for his short stories, were major literary figures of the late 20th century. The best-known Argentine poet is Leopoldo Lugones, who wrote both symbolist and naturalist verse.
Contemporary writers include Guillermo Martínez, who wrote Infierno Grande (1989), a collection of short stories; Marcos Aguinis, who explored Argentina and Germany in the 1930s in La matriz del infierno (1997); and Alicia Steimberg, who chronicled a woman searching for her identity in Cuando digo Magdalena (1992; translated as Call Me Magdalena, 2001). "Argentina" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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