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Horacio Quiroga
Uruguay
(1878-1937)

     Most historians agree that the modern Latin American short story began with Horacio Quiroga, still considered a master worthy of imitation. Quiroga managed to combine Latin American settings and themes, like the jungle and violence, with flawless execution, devoid of sentimentality or local color. Quiroga's own life was haunted by violent death. His father was killed in a hunting accident and his stepfather committed suicide. Quiroga's wife also committed suicide, as did Quiroga, who was ill with cancer at the time. His fascination with morbid states of mind and the deleterious effects of nature on the individual are topics of the period, and it is not difficult to see in some of his stories the influence of Edgar Allan Poe. After attending university at Montevideo and a ritual season in Paris, in 1906 he settled in the tropical jungle region of Misiones, in northern Argentina, which became the source of many of Quiroga's works. Cuentos de amor, de locura y de muerte, or Stories about Love, Madness and Death, appeared in 1917. This influential short story collection combined his experiences in Misiones with a somber, even gruesome sense of life. Quiroga's world is one ruled by tragedy. "The Decapitated Chicken", which anticipates some of William Faulkner's obsessions and themes, is perhaps Quiroga's most representative story.