- Tomás Carrasquilla
name = Tomás Carrasquilla Naranjo
caption = Bust of Carrasquilla in Pueblito Paisa Park in
birthdate = birth date|1858|1|17|mf=y
birthplace = Santo Domingo,
deathdate = death date and age|1940|12|19|1858|1|17|df=y
novelist, storytellerand essayist
influenced = Fernando Gonzales Ochoa
Tomás Carrasquilla Naranjo (1858 - 1940), was a
Colombian writer who lived among two centuries in the region of Antioquia. He dedicated himself to very simple jobs as tailor, secretary of a judge, store keeper in a mine and worker of the Ministry of Public Works. While he was a permanent reader and one of the most original writers of the Colombian literature with a great influence in the young generation of his time and after. Carrasquilla was little known in his time, as it is stated by Federico de Onís, a dedicated scholar to the works of Carrasquilla. It was only after 1936 when he was awarded with the National Prize of Literature, when he got a national recognition, when he was already 68 years old. [DE ONIS, Federico, Prólogo a Cuentos de Tomás Carrasquilla, Ed. Bedout, Medellín, 15 de mayo de 1970, p.5.] The civil wars of the second part of the Colombian 19th century caused that young Carrasquilla could not continue his studies in the University of Antioquia. [ [http://www.udea.edu.co/consulta/publico?accion=contenido&id=10446%C2%B4 Universidad de Antioquia con Tomás Carrasquilla] , conmemoración de los 150 años del natalicio de Tomás Carrasquilla. Link retrieved on June 14 2008.] A committed intellectual, Carrasquilla used to organize tertulias in his house to read works and discuss them. Many young writers and intellectuals of his time join those tertulias in his house in Medellínand from that time he was called "Maestro Tomás Carrasquilla". Among those who admired Carrasquilla was the Colombian philosophier Fernando González Ochoa who had also a great appreciation for his person. [Corporación Otraparte: [http://www.otraparte.org/vida/henao-javier-1.html Biografía y vivencia cronológica de Fernando González] , Envigado, enlace revizado el 15 de junio de 2008.]
One of the reasons argued by De Onís about why the work of Carrasquilla passed at that time so unknown in Colombia and abroad was that he lived among two different periods of the
Latin American literature: Costumbrismoand Romanticism, that had in Colombia representatives like José Asunción Silvaand the coming of Modernismthat was a reaction against Costumbrismo. As many classify the work of Carrasquilla as Costumbrist, the modern critic did let him out. [DE ONIS, Federico, Prólogo a Cuentos de Tomás Carrasquilla, Ed. Bedout, Medellín, 15 de mayo de 1970, p.5.]
Carrasquilla lived in the middle of two centuries of the
History of Colombia, becoming a link between two epochs. When he was born in 1858 the country was called República Neogranadinaand still fresh the events of the independence of the nation from Spain. In his work "La Marqueza de Yolombó", Carrasquilla described how the most simple people of the end of the 18th century saw the events that broke the political dependence of Colombia from Spain. He was also a citizen of the so called United States of Colombia(1863 - 1886), the same time when the Paisa Regionsaw the colonization of the current coffee areas. He saw also the Colombian industrial revolutionat the beginning of the 20th century, the Thousand Days Warand many other changes in his country. The Colombian civil wars of the 19th century were the reason why Carrasquilla could not finish his studies of Lawin University of Antioquia. One of those civil wars was reflected in his works "Luterito" and "El Padre Casafús" (The Reverend Casafús), which context was the civil war of 1876 started by the Conservative partisans of Antioquia, Cauca and Tolimaagainst the Liberal government of president Aquileo Parrawho intended to secularize the education. The story is developed in the town of Cañasgordaswhere a group of fighters prepare themselves to "defend the Faith." [CARRASQUILLA, Tomás, Luterito: A las matronas peidrasgordeñas, al Batallón Pío IX, Cuentos de Tomás Carrasquilla, p. 158, Ed. Bedout, Medellín, 1970.] . In this case, the work of Carrasquilla is an approach to the most deep feeling of the people in historical events of a time without electronic media.
Tomás was born in Santo Domingo, an Andean town at the north-east of
Medellín, on the Antioquean Mountain. He was the son of Isaza Carrasquilla and Ecilda Naranjo Moreno. His family owned some gold mines and this fact would allow him to live well enough and dedicate himself to writing. One of his friends, also born in Santo Domingo, was the writer Francisco de Paula Rendón.
At the age of 15 he moved to Medellín to finish his secundary education in
University of Antioquiaand in that same institution he would continue Law. In 1877 he has to abandon the studies because the starting of the war of Conservatives against president Aquileo Parra. He returned to Santo Domingo where he worked as a tailor and did some jobs in the municipality. Carlos Eugenio Restrepo invited him to the Café Literario and he has to write a story in order to be admitted. He wrote "Simón El Mago", one of his most popular stories that was publish in 1890 and brought to cinema by the Colombian film director Víctor Gaviriain 1993.
In 1896 he traveled to
Bogotáfor the publication of his first novel, "Frutos de mi tierra", written to demonstrate that any subject can be the matter of a story and the work got an excellent review by the critic. In that trip he knew José Asunción Silva, to whom he would dedicate some years after the essay "For the Poet".
He returned to Antioquia and got an accident falling from a horse, a reason that made him to stay in Medellín for a certain time. When he returned to Santo Domingo, he dedicated to write until 1904, when he lost his fortune due to the Banco Popular bankrupt. Then he moved to work as a storekeeper in a gold mine of
After he returned to Medellín, he had a very lively social and cultural life in relations with young intellectuals like Fernando González Ochoa, who became one of his best friend for the rest of his life. [Corporación Otraparte: [http://www.otraparte.org/vida/henao-javier-1.html Fernando González, the chronology of his life] , Envigado, link retrieved on June 16, 2008.] González was one of the best admirers of his work. He knew also the cartoonist
Ricardo Rendónand the " Los Panidas", that he supported, but never joined.
In 1914 he did some works for
El Espectador, when that publications was edited in Medellín. But in that time he moved to Bogotá until 1919 where he worked for the Ministry of Public Works. [ [http://www.udea.edu.co/consulta/publico?accion=contenido&id=10446%C2%B4 University of Antioquia with Tomás Carrasquilla] , commemoration of the 150 years of his birth. Link retrieved on June 15, 2008.]
Back in Medellín, he continued studying literature and published in 1928 "La Marqueza de Yolombó", one of the most known works of the Colombian literature and that was brought to a television series in the 1980s.
The writer stayed definitely in Medellín when his health began to decay and becoming blind. In 1934 an cirgury gave him back a limit vision, but his blindness was not an obstacle for writing, because he began to dictate his works. Like this he wrote between 1936 and 1937 "Hace tiempos" (Time Ago), that gained him the National Prize of Literature and Science "
José María Vergara y Vergara" by the Colombian Academy of Language. This recognition gave him a national fame and attracted some international critics who will admire his work and rescue his name from his almost anonymity.
In December 1940 Tomás Carrasquilla died among a big groups of friends and admirers who called him always "Don Tomás" or "Maestro Tomás Carrasquilla".
Among Costumbrismo and Modernity
Carrasquilla is very often as a Costumbrist author due to the cultural context of his world, the traditional details of the simple people and the description of scenery like the characteristics of Costumbrismo, which were developed in
Spainand Latin Americaduring the 19th century. [Enciclopedia GER: [http://www.canalsocial.net/GER/ficha_GER.asp?id=9241&cat=literatura Costumbrismo en Literatura española] , link retrieved on June 15, 2008.] The objective of the Costumbrist author is the description of the frame of the traditions of a people without any further comment to the respect and as a consequence of Romanticism. At the end of the 19th century the Modernism started to appear in Latin America and Spain. In Colombia it had authors, journalists, artists and photographers like González, Greiff, Rendón, Matiz and many others. The Modernism developed against Costumbrismo. According to Federico de Onís, it is proven that Carrasquilla knew and even shared with the new tendencies of Modernism, [DE ONIS, Federico, Prologue to "Stories of Tomás Carrasquilla", Ed. Bedout, Medellín, May 15, 1970, pp.8-9.] for example, giving support to Los Panidas, but keeping his own style and originality.
In this sense, the classification of Carrasquilla as a Costumbrista, is not completely exact, because, reading De Onís, his work keeps differences with the Costumbrismo of the 19th century that was static and wanted the description only for description:
For the Colombian journalist Carlos Uribe de los Ríos, this classification of Carrasquilla as a Costumbrist author, caused to him a long marginalization within the Colombian literature.
If there is a thing that proves that Carrasquilla was more than a Costumbrist and that he used in his works elements of the realistic modernism, is the intellectual relation and great friendship with the "Philosopher of Otraparte" as was called Fernando González Ochoa. With a difference in age of 39 years, González knew Carrasquilla in Medellín at the time he was founding Los Panidas with Rendón and De Greiff.
González, another master of writing in Colombia, said in one of his essays about the author in "Hace Tiempos de Carrasquilla":
Although in his time the works of Carrasquilla had a great difussion only in the
Paisa Region, it does not mean that it was completely ignored in Colombia and abroad. Especially since 1936, with the recognition of the National Contendant of Story, his work attracted the attention of foreign critics of literarure like the Chileans Arturo Torres Riosecoand Mariano Latorre. He kept a good friendship by correspondence with writers like José Martíand Miguel de Unamuno. [DE ONÍS, Federico, Prologue to Stories of Tomás Carrasquilla, Ed. Bedout, Medellín, 1970, p.9.] The works of Carrasquilla are divided in novels, stories, essays, articles and letters. In 1906 he confessed to a friend in a letter that he was writing because economical problems, being in bankrupt, [DE ONÍS, Federico, Prologue to Stories of Tomás Carrasquilla, Ed. Bedout, Medellín, 1970, p.10.] although all his life he enjoyed a well-off life and he never married. Some articles he wrote in El Espectador, made that some observers suggest that he was a journalists, but his participation in that area was rather limited.
* (1986) Frutos de mi tierra.
* (1897) En la diestra de Dios padre
* (1897) Blanca (Novela corta)
* (1897) Dimitas Arias
* (1903) Salve, Regina
* (1906) Entrañas de niño
* (1910) Grandeza
* (1920) Ligia Cruz
* )1920) El Padre Casafus
* (1920) Superhombre
* (1925) El Zarco
* (1928) La Marquesa de Yolombó
* (1935-1936) Hace tiempos
* Ligia Cruz
* (1864-1866) Los malos hábitos
* El Rifle
* (1890) Simón El Mago
* (1890) Palonegro
* (1898) El ánima sola
* (1899) San Antoñito
* (1926) Rogelio
The articles and stories that appeared in different publications of Medellín at the beginning of the 20th century, were gathered in two collections:
* (1914) Homilías.
* (1934) Dominicales.
The Marquez of Yolombó
"La Marqueza de Yolombó" (1926) was a historical novel and it is one of the most popular of Carrasquilla. It is the reconstruction of a Colombian town at the end of the 18th century and at the heat of the movements for the independence from Spain. The novel is a good description of the social classes of the time with the Spaniards and Spaniard Americans at the top and the low social classes made by blacks and mestizos.
Yolombówas at the time a strategic town in the gold mines of Antioquia. [RESTREPO G., Catalina, [http://www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2/summary_0286-2929164_ITM Cantos e interacción cultural en la Marqueza de Yolombó de Tomás Carrasquilla] , Estudios de literatura colombiana, Universidad de Antioquia, Medellín, enlace revizado el 15 de junio de 2008.]
Simón The Magician
"Simón El Mago" was a story written in 1890 where Carrasquilla ridiculized witchcraft. It shows also the relation between the white and black at the end of the century in Colombia and the mixture of beliefs in the mestizaje. Toñito, the youngest child at home, is cared by his nana, Frutus who used to talk to him about the art of witchcraft, something that made a great impression in the boy. The boy decided to have his own adventures with the informal lessons of the nana and ended in terrible problems that his father would arrange with a strong punishment. [CARRASQUILLA, T. Simón El Mago, Cuentos de Tomás Carrasquilla, Ed. Bedout, Medellín, 1970.]
* [http://www.banrep.gov.co/blaavirtual/credencial/9501.htm Tomás Carrasquilla y José Asunción Silva, en la quiebra] . Un paralelo entre las vicisitudes económicas de ambos escritores.
* [http://www.banrep.gov.co/blaavirtual/letra-b/biogcircu/carrtoma.htm Biography in Spanish of Tomás Carrasquilla]
* [http://www.colombiainfo.com/tomas_carrasquilla.htm 150 Years of the Birth of Tomás Carrasquilla: Colombiainfo.com]
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