Facundo: Or, Civilization and Barbarism (Penguin Classics)
Ostensibly a biography of the gaucho barbarian Juan Facundo Quiroga, Facundo is also a complex, passionate work of history, sociology, and political commentary, and Latin America's most important essay of the nineteenth century.
wide and open forehead; while the responses were made by a dozen women and some young men, whose imperfectly broken horses were fastened near the door of the chapel. After finishing the rosary, he fervently offered up his own petitions. I never heard a voice fuller of pious feeling, nor a prayer of purer warmth, of firmer faith, of greater beauty, or better adapted to the circumstances, than that which he uttered. In this prayer he besought God to grant rain for the fields, fruitfulness for the
hoc habitat to the highest forms of civilization? Is it forever doomed by virtue of its peripheral location, far from the centers of intellectual sophisticated in the Old Continent, and by its awkward Spanish heritage? “The vast tract which occupies [the extremities of the Argentine Republic],” Sarmiento writes, “is altogether uninhabited, and possesses navigable rivers as yet unfurrowed even by a frail canoe.” This leads him to conclude that “Its own extent is the evil from which [it] suffers.”
the French quotation around which the “Author’s Notice” is built, Mary Mann’s 1868 English translation of Facundo gives us a surprising opportunity to understand the book. During his first trip to the United States in 1847, a couple of years after the first Spanish edition was released, Sarmiento had been introduced to Horace Mann, the famed Massachusetts educator, by a mutual acquaintance. This trip, which took him to Spain, Majorca, Central Europe, and finally North America, had come about when
and despotic government which now crushes it. The brilliant but artificial government established by Rivadavia at Buenos Ayres, fascinated its immediate supporters, but provoked jealousies and opposition in the interior; divers ambitions were developing: the Caudillos* were soon to appear; parties were just forming; the envy excited by a rich, powerful city in her poorer neighbors, clamored for a confederation; Spanish prejudices caused many men to oppose all reform; the presidential government
cried, “Rascals! now for real work!” The battle commenced, and a deadly firing was kept up for five long hours, the infantry of Benavides being within three yards of Acha’s company; for Aldao had fled, leaving his companion to take care of himself. The young Alvarez, who was seriously wounded early in the contest, left a vacancy which could not be filled; and presently, when the men became discouraged and wavered in their resistance, he had his wound hastily bandaged and returned to his place,