Essayist, literary critic and educator, Margot Arce de Vázquez is considered part of the 1930s generation. Her extensive work in criticism made her one of the most prolific and outstanding writers of her era. She was one of the founders of the Puerto Rican Academy of the Spanish Language.
Born in Caguas in 1904, where she completed her primary and secondary studies, she enrolled in the University of Puerto Rico to study mathematics, but decided to study language and literature after taking a poetry course. After working as a professor at the same university for a short period of time, she moved to Madrid in 1928 to pursue a doctoral degree. Upon returning to Puerto Rico, she again worked as a professor, until 1970. She also served as director of the Department of Spanish Studies at her alma mater in 1943 to 1965, and was a visiting professor at Middlebury College in Vermont.
Arce de Vázquez was the author of a numerous books and essays of literary criticism of Spanish letters, including Puerto Rican works. The Revista de Filología Española published her award-winning doctoral thesis, Garcilaso de la Vega: contribución al estudio de la lírica española del siglo XVI (1930), a work considered to be of great importance in the study of that Spanish poet. She produced a several of analytical essays on the works of Spanish authors such as Federico García Lorca and Antonio Machado, as well as Puerto Rican writers such as the poets Luis Palés Matos, Francisco Matos Paoli and Luis Lloréns Torres. These essays were published in various magazines such as Brújula, Revista del Ateneo Puertorriqueño, La Torre and the Revista del Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña. Many of these were included in her book Impresiones: notas puertorriqueñas (1950), for which she received a prize from the Institute of Puerto Rican Literature. In her books La égloga segunda de Garcilaso (1949) and La égloga primera de Garcilaso (1953), she continued her analysis of the works of Garcilaso de la Vega.
In 1958, after the death of Chilean writer Gabriela Mistral, with whom she had become good friends, she published Gabriela Mistral: persona y poesía, in which she analyzed Mistral’s literary works. She collaborated on the production of two anthologies of Puerto Rican literature: Lecturas puertorriqueñas: prosa (1966) and Lecturas puertorriqueñas; poesía (1968). In 1967, she published La obra literaria de José de Diego and wrote the preface for Luis Palés Matos: poesía completa y prosa selecta (1978). She also produced a large number of essays on general topics, such as the Puerto Rican landscape, patriotic pride and the arts.
She was known for her simple, clear and precise writing style and her rigorous analysis. Through her literary analysis, she followed the postulates of her literary generation, which addressed the topic of Puerto Rican identity and identified principally with Spanish heritage.
She died in San Juan on November 14, 1990.
Rivera de Alvarez, Josefina. Literatura puertorriqueña, su proceso en el tiempo. Madrid: Ediciones Panteón, 1983.
Gran Enciclopedia de Puerto Rico
Del Rosario, Rubén. Breve Enciclopedia de la Cultura Puertorriqueña. Hato Rey: Ediciones Cordillera, 1976.
Author: Grupo Editorial EPRL
Published: September 15, 2014.
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