A leading Puerto Rican essayist of the 20th century, Antonio S. Pedreira was a true scholar and humanist by training and vocation. A product of the island’s public education system, he showed from an early age a love of letters and a penchant for journalism. Pedreira began his career as a teacher at the Normal School, but eventually finished his B.A. at the University of Puerto Rico and later obtained a master’s degree at the Department of Hispanic Studies at Columbia University and a Ph.D. at the University of Madrid. As Chairman of the Spanish Department of the University of Puerto Rico, he helped develop a new generation of Puerto Rican scholars and became their acknowledged intellectual mentor. In 1939, he suddenly died to the great consternation of the academic and intellectual community of the island.
Pedreira was an educator and a literary critic of distinction. He was thoroughly familiar with Spanish and Spanish-American literature, but his favorite genre was the essay. Here, he follwed in the footsteps of Spanish essayist/writers Miguel de Unamuno and José Ortega y Gasset. He turned to the history and cultural evolution of the island for inspiration. He wrote about the Puerto Rican jíbaro, or peasant, Eugenio María de Hostos, and José Celso Barbosa. But Pedreira’s main contributions were his path-blazer Bibliografía Puertorriqueña (Madrid, 1932); his collection of essays entitled lnsularismo (1934); and his posthumous work, E1 Periodismo en Puerto Rico (1941) a study of the evolution of journalism on the island.
As a writer, Pedreira was terse and direct, with a love of metaphor but eschewing rhetoricism. He was, above all, a humanist and a teacher, with a broad view of history and culture, and a sense of beauty and justice.
Author: Grupo Editorial EPRL
Published: September 15, 2014.
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