Earlier this year I got quite interested in the short stories of the Uruguyan author Horacio Quiroga (1878-1937), and I started translating and posting some of his stories. One of Quiroga’s literary influences was Edgar Allan Poe, with whom he shares a morbid fascination with death and madness. I’m sure Quiroga’s frequent themes of addiction and illness are also partially influenced by Poe, as well.
Quiroga published his breakout collection Cuentos de amor, de locura y de muerte (Tales of Love, Madness and Death) in 1917. By then, his voice was coming into its own, merging Quiroga’s love for Poe with other literary interests, in particular de Maupassant and Kipling, along with Quiroga’s own life experiences living in the jungle province Misiones, in Argentina. But his earlier work shows Quiroga’s love for Poe much more strongly. Several of the stories in his 1904 collection, El crimen del otro (The Crime of Another) are direct homages to Poe’s short stories.
I translated one of Quiroga’s earliest stories back in July, but never posted it here. You can read it at the Ephemera blog:
- For a Sleepless Night (Para noche de insomnio): Four friends must cope with the tragic suicide of one of their companions.
Para noche de insomnio was published in 1899, when Quiroga was about twenty-one. It opens with a quote from Edgar Allan Poe: His Life and Works, a memoir of Poe by French poet Charles Baudelaire, who was one of Poe’s most ardent translators. Quiroga was clearly striving for a portrait of madness commensurate with the Gothic delirium of Poe’s creations, though I don’t read this one as a direct homage to any specific story. But then again, the stories that Baudelaire admired–and by extension, the stories that are perhaps most associated with Poe in the non-Anglophone literary world–are not necessarily the stories best remembered by Poe’s American readers. Compare the stories adapted by Roger Corman with the stories in the European film anthology Spirits of the Dead (1968), for example. So perhaps this is an homage to a story that I’m less familiar with.
I recently found some of the stories from the collection El crimen del otro, and I plan to translate them as time allows. Like Para noche de insomnio, these are early, youthful works, and not as strong as Quiroga’s later stories. But they’re still interesting, particularly for admirers of Poe. I hope you’ll enjoy them.