Textos Híbridos

Revista de Estudios sobre Crónica y Periodismo Narrativo

David William Foster

The nation apocalyptic: rape in Esteban Echeverría’s hybrid text “El Matadero”

Código DOI: 10.15691/textoshibridos.v4i1.45 Páginas: Fecha de Publicación: 05-01-2015 Ver volumen


The founding text of Argentine narrative—and the founding text of Latin American hybrid texts—Esteban Echeverría’s narrative chronicle “El matadero” was written ca. 1840, but not published until 1871. The text, written by Echeverría (1805-51) during his exile in Uruguay from Argentina and the dictatorship of Juan Manuel Rosas (1829-52), ends with same-sex male sexual humiliation, often read as including rape. “El matadero” as a founding hybrid text of Latin American writing is something of an icon of the eccentric understandings of Romanticism in Latin America. Argentina was certainly the most literate country of the day and the one most steeped in the work of French and English writers, whose influence Rosas attempted to forestall. He used an array of violent tactics, such as impaling in public view the heads of uncooperative booksellers and the routine rape of opponents with dried shucked corncobs before or after the slitting of their throats (called “playing the violin”), often with dull knives, by thugs known as La Mazorca (that is, The Corn Cob). Clearly, the stakes were high for European-inspired Romanticism in Argentina (mostly that meant Buenos Aires), and Echeverría was a major player, who saved both his neck and, one might say, the integrity of his masculinity, by writing from Uruguay across the Río de la Plata.