Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Professors Interpret Colombian Poet’s Work in Forum

GU FACULTY Professors Interpret Colombian Poet’s Work in Forum By Luis Ponce Special to The Hoya

Copley Formal Lounge was transformed into an expository forum on the life and works of late Colombian author German Arciniegas onday as experts in Romanic languages interpreted his style and philosophy and showed part of a correspondence between the author and a friend.

The three professors, Roberto Esquenazi-Mayo, Horacio Legras and James W. Robb, were invited to Georgetown by the Latin American Student Association. The discussion was held in Spanish.

Arciniegas’ work, which includes 60 books and more than 15,000 published articles in periodicals and magazines, deals primarily with the theme of America.

The publishing of Arciniegas’ work took place throughout the 20th century, which was a period of great historical and political significance in Latin America. The content of his writings reflects the themes of the two world wars, the communist revolution and the rise to power of several Latin American military dictators.

In addition to being a member of the “Academia Colombiana de la Lengua,” Arciniegas served his country as ambassador to Italy, Israel, Venezuela and Vatican City.

Introducing the professors, Thomas J. Walsh, director of the Spanish and Portuguese department, called Arciniegas “the greatest writer, political thinker and diplomat of 20th century Colombia,” adding, “Mr. Arciniegas’ work tried to shed light onto that [which] defines what it is to be Latin American.”

Roberto Esquenazi-Mayo, long-time friend of Arciniegas and a professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, presented Arciniegas’ life as a thinker and fighter for democracy and liberty for all Americans, describing the late author’s attendance at three conferences.

The first two Intellectual Cooperation Conferences, celebrated in Havana, Cuba, in 1941 and 1950, were organized to proclaim the freedom and democracy America enjoyed and had to sustain as the only hope against war-torn Europe. The third, called the Freedom and Democracy International Conference, was celebrated in Berlin in the 1950s and differed from the first two.

At the conference, Arciniegas was the only representative from the Americas to condemn the dictatorships established in South America. According to Esquenazi-Mayo, Arciniegas criticized the effects of the political sphere on the literary sphere at the time.

Esquenazi-Mayo said that the morning of Nov. 30, 1999, he received a phone call informing him of Arciniega’s death. According to Esquenazi-Mayo, America lost not only a great man but also one of the greatest supporters of democracy, since Arciniegas had the initiative to go alone to Europe and defend what he saw to be best for his part of the world.

Renowned Latin-American author and Peruvian politician Mario Vargas Llosa once said, according to Esquenazi-Mayo, “that we had to read and re-read Arciniegas” as his work is the path to the inner soul of the Americas.

Horacio Legras, a professor in the Spanish and Portuguese Department at Georgetown, also emphasized the poetic quality of Arciniegas’ writings.

“America, thus, was born to defy everything – just like words served as the canal through which all things that are in the world came into existence,” he said. Arciniegas’ preferred genre, fittingly, was the essay, as “Latin America is itself an essay,” Legras said.

Professor Emeritus of the George Washington University, and the only U.S. citizen to be a member of the Mexican Academy of Spanish Language, James W. Robb presented insights on Arciniegas’ life as writer. In a correspondence between Arciniegas and the exican Alfonso Reyes that took place between the 1930s and 1950s, the two discussed the world of publishing, magazines and books. Agreements, anniversaries of magazines and the Colombian Newspaper El Tiempo, were also discussed in the letters.

A CD-ROM created by the Jesuit Javelian University of Bogota, containing photos, interviews, videos and complete texts by Arciniegas, was given to LASA’s President Alfredo Toro (COL ’02) and to the guest professors. The CD-ROM will be available in Lauinger Library in the near future.

Carnevali said LASA’s next activity is scheduled for next semester and will most likely consist of a concert.

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