Cuatro caminos, crónicas de viajes

Cuatro caminos, crónicas de viajes

Journalist, professor, essayist and short story writer. He distinguished himself as a journalist for various newspapers and literary magazines in Puerto Rico. He was known for cultivating a cultured style of journalism that presented the Puerto Rican social and cultural reality and for his literary criticism. He was also a short story writer and a scholar of the island’s works of drama.

Wilfredo Braschi was born in 1918 in New York City to a family of journalists and people of literature. His grandfather was the 19th century journalist Mario Braschi and his uncle was Juan Braschi. The family returned to the island in the 1920s. Wilfredo completed primary and secondary education in Santurce, a sector of San Juan.

In 1938, when he was just 19 years old, he began working as a reporter and editorial writer at La Democracia, a periodical that had originally been founded by Luis Muñoz Rivera (1890) and had become the official organ of the Popular Democratic Party, which was also founded in 1938. In 1941, he won the Journalism Prize awarded by the Institute of Puerto Rican Literature for an article he published in La Democracia about the Puerto Rican poet José Antonio Dávila.

In 1948, he moved to El Mundo, which was then the largest circulation newspaper on the island. For many years, he wrote a column for that newspaper called “International Synthesis,” which addressed world affairs.

In 1950, Wilfredo Braschi completed a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Puerto Rico. Two years later, at the same institution, he completed his Masters degree in Spanish studies after presenting his thesis on Puerto Rican theater, Apuntes para la historia crítica del teatro puertorriqueño contemporáneo, which was later published in 1970 under the title Apuntes sobre el teatro puertorriqueño. He immediately moved to Spain, where he earned his Ph.D. at the Central University of Madrid (1953).

Upon returning to Puerto Rico in 1954, he resumed writing for El Mundo. He also contributed to numerous other newspapers, such as El Imparcial and Diario de Puerto Rico, as well as cultural magazines such as Artes y Letras, Asomante, Bohemia, Boricua, Educación, Noticias del Trabajo, Revista Agrícola de Puerto Rico, Revista de Educación de UNESCO and Revista de la Asociación de Maestros de Puerto Rico.

In 1957, he won a scholarship from the New York Herald Tribune’s Reid Foundation to continue his post-graduate studies at the London School of Economics in England. After his return, he went to work for the government as the director of public relations for the Agriculture Department and, later, for the Department of Public Education. He also was a contributor to the public radio and television stations that were established during that era, particularly as a commentator on the educational program “History on the March.”

Braschi also worked as a teacher in the General Studies School at the University of Puerto Rico in Río Piedras, where he taught classes in Social Sciences. He later taught courses in public relations and human relations, among others, at the Graduate School of Public Administration. Later, he was a professor and director (1974-1975) of the School of Communications at the university. In 1964, he was named a member of the Board of Directors of the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture.

Braschi was a prose writer, beyond his work as a journalist, and in 1963 he published Cuatro caminos: crónicas de viaje, with a prologue by Madrid linguist and literary critic Samuel Gili Gaya. This work presents scenes of his travels in Europe, written in prose that is elegant and lyrical, but simple. Among the pieces are “Escenas en el Rastro,” “La Plaza Mayor de Madrid,” “En la casa de Unamuno,” “Somerset Maugham en su palco” and “Hemingway y Pío Baroja.”

In the biographical essays of Perfiles puertorriqueños (1978), many of which had previously been published in El Mundo, he intertwined physical descriptions of many of the outstanding figures of Puerto Rican letters with details of their lives and their literary work: Luis Llorens Torres, Cayetano Coll y Toste, Evaristo Ribera Chevremont, José Antonio Dávila, Julia de Burgos and Clara Lair, among others. This work received a prize from the Institute of Puerto Rican Literature.

Braschi also presented speeches and lectures on literary topics and on communications and public relations in various forums and conferences in countries such as Venezuela and the United States. One of these lectures, “Nuevas tendencias en la literatura puertorriqueña,” appears in the volume Literatura puertorriqueña: 21 conferencias (1960).

As a short story writer, Wilfredo Braschi published the collections of tales titled Metrópoli (1968), which won a prize from the Institute of Puerto Rican Literature, and La primera piedra (1977). His stories consist of a fusion of influences from traditional Puerto Rican tales, such as detailed descriptions of the landscape, with elements and approaches from contemporary writing, such as stream of consciousness, internal monologues, diverse points of view, etc. Among his stories are “Una oración bajo la nieve,” which was also included in various anthologies of the era, “La primera piedra” and “El zepelín dorado.” An English translation of this last short story was also published in Borinquen: An Anthology of Puerto Rican Literature (1974).

Braschi also wrote books on theory in public relations and communications, with Nuevas relaciones públicas: ensayos de teoría y práctica published in 1969 and Las mil y una caras de la comunicación in 1980.

Wilfredo Braschi died November 30, 1994 in San Juan.

References

Schoch, Patricia. Translating the short stories of Wilfredo Braschi: A voice of twentieth-century Puerto Rico. Disertación. The University of Texas at Dallas, 2005. Dissertations & Theses: Full Text, ProQuest. En línea. 25 enero 2010.

“In memoriam: Wilfredo Braschi (1918-1994)”. La revista del Centro de Estudios Avanzados de Puerto Rico. 19. (julio-diciembre 1994). Impreso.

Rivera de Alvarez, Josefina. Diccionario de literatura puertorriqueña. 2a ed. Vol 2. San Juan, P. R.: Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña, 1974. Impreso.

Author: Grupo Editorial EPRL
Published: September 12, 2014.

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