Uruguayan leftist writer with an impressive repertoire of plays, short stories, and novels, as beautiful and progressive as the brilliant poems for which he was most famous. Born in Paso de los Toros, his family settled in Montevideo in 1924. He worked many different jobs when he was young, and later began to write for different Uruguayan cultural publications. After the 1973 right-wing coup in Uruguay, he was forced into exile, only returning in 1983. Remained a principled progressive to his death.
Pedro and the Captain (1979): 85 pages. A play about torture which found a lot of praise from comrades who went through the horrible ordeal of torture at the hands of the amerikan-trained security forces in South America. To introduce it, an extract from the introduction which Benedetti wrote for this play: “I see the play as a dramatic inquiry into the psychology of a torturer, a sort of answer to the question of what it takes, what has to be going on, for an ordinary person to become a torturer. While torture is the ostensible theme of the play, it never comes onto the stage as a physical act. I’ve always believed that torture has its place as an artistic subject in literature or film, but in theater its aggression is felt too directly, and this makes it difficult for the spectator to keep a needed distance. If the torture is there only indirectly, however, as an evil yet unseen presence, then the audience is able to be more objective, and if what we are judging is the degradation of a human being, objectivity is essential... I haven’t wanted the prisoner to come across as a militant of some particular political tendency. The extreme repression in Uruguay has swept over virtually the entire Left and even reached further, into other sectors of the opposition like the Church and traditional political parties. Pedro is simply a political prisoner of the Left who doesn’t inform on anyone, and who, although he is in agony, somehow humiliates his interrogator and vanquishes him. Each one of the four acts ends with a No.”
Books of Poetry
Little Stones at My Window ; Piedritas en la ventana: 272 pages
Completely Absentminded: About a very absentminded man, and the paradox that all exiles go through: they are able to travel and travel, to most countries of the world, but not to the one in which they were born.
Forgotten Memories: An emotional story about Latin American leftists in forced exile in Spain because of the right-wing dictatorships ruling their home countries. Deals with their anxious relation to the question of returning or not returning; love and its importance, when many had lost spouses and lovers to torture or execution; the inexcapable feeling of "foreigness" in a country they moved to late in life and in which they planned on leaving as soon as possible.
Guardian More or Less: Magic realist story that deals with the struggle between religious hypocrites, servants of capitalism and fascist repression and the left. Also deals with the pain of prison, torture, and exile for children and adults.
Listening to Mozart: Passionate attack on torture and the disgusting garbage that carries it out.
Nineteen: Deals with the horrible "disappearances" carried out by the fascist junta in Argentina using magic realism.
The Air is Good Here: About corruption and how ashamed the corrupt should be to exploit their positions to enrich themselves at the expense of the people.
The Big Switch: About the power of youth, and how they are misunderstood, distained, and belittled by adults, especially the reactionary, repressive adults that control the government and security services.
The Collection: Deals with the Tupamaros guerillas.
The End of Dyspnea: Humorous story about asthma and the dangers of conformity as well as the arrogance of viewing oneself as a member of a select, superior minority.
The Rest is Jungle: Story about a Uruguayan writer on a visit to amerika where he visits New York City, Albaqurque, and Washington DC. Benedetti recounts the hero's "adventures" with sincere humor and realism: anyone who has dealt with white amerikans and brain-washed "exiles" will recognize them. A brutal, devestating attack on amerika: "beatnik" or "hippy" culture, lack of cultural achievement, technological progress in the interest of consumerism, abject racism and dehumanization of black people, wide-spread escapism. An effective and strong attack on the amerikan dream and amerikan imperialism, carried out with humor and harsh realism, it remains very relevant.
I'm a Lost Cause
Now I Understand
Ode to Pacification
Reality / News