Esteban Echeverría’s El matadero (The Slaughteryard), written towards the end of the 1830s, is, chronologically, the first work of Argentine prose fiction. A fierce and outspoken opponent of Juan Manuel de Rosas’ Federalist regime, the author was forced to live a long exile in Montevideo, where he died in 1851. El matadero remained unpublished until 1871. Owing in part to its brevity – a mere 6,000 or so words – it may be the most studied school text in all Latin-American literature. It is certainly known and acclaimed beyond the borders of Argentina
Argentina, 1839. A young man dies for his political beliefs when attacked by a mob in a slaughteryard used to butcher cattle. The story takes place at the height of Juan Manuel de Rosas’ reign of terror. Though fictional, it is an open indictment of that brutal regime and the first masterwork of Latin-American literature, originally published twenty years after the author’s death. El matadero is reputed to be the most widely studied school text in Spanish-speaking South America.
Born in Buenos Aires in 1805, Esteban Echeverria was a poet and moral thinker who, owing to his uncompromising ideals, was forced into a long militant exile in Uruguay where he died in penury in 1851.
Available now for the first time in a modern English translation this is a story that in well over a century has lost none of its freshness and popularity. This edition is the fruit of years of research into little-known corners of Argentine literature and history, including an extensive glossary, the story’s rare first printed version (in Spanish), and an appendix of reports by early English travellers to the River Plate, including Charles Darwin. This is an uncompromising and unforgettable story