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Fifty Years after the Nobel Prize: The Legacy of Miguel Angel Asturias

The 50th anniversary of Miguel Ángel Asturias’s Literature Nobel Prize invites us to question his best known work, El Señor Presidente, from a current perspective. In El Señor Presidente, Asturias approaches the figure of the dictator while inaugurating a style, magical realism, that would go on to conquer readers across all five continents. The talk, by Asturias expert Gerald Martin, will be introduced by Guatemalan writer and Hispanist Maria Odette Canivell.

Miguel Ángel Asturias (1899-1974) was a Guatemalan writer and diplomat who received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1967. His novel El señor presidente (The President), considered as a reference in Latin American literature, explores the nature of dictatorship and its effects on society. Written between 1920 and 1933, its publication was held back by censorship for 13 years. His style, influenced by surrealism and ultraism, inspired an entire literary movement known as the “Latin American Boom” which included later renowned authors such as Gabriel García Márquez, Carlos Fuentes, Julio Cortázar and Mario Vargas Llosa.

Gerald Martin, Andrew W. Mellon Professor Emeritus of Modern Languages in the University of Pittsburgh, is a literary critic and historian. His research and publications have focused on the Latin American novel. His PhD was devoted to Miguel Angel Asturias. He has produced critical editions of Hombres de maíz (1981) (Men of Maize) and El Señor Presidente (2000) (The President), as well as translating Asturias’s former work. He has also translated novels by the Spanish writers Rafael Chirbes and Max Aub. In the 1980s he concentrated on the history of literature and the arts, contributing three major chapters to the Cambridge History of Latin America and publishing Journeys through the Labyrinth: Latin American Fiction in the Twentieth Century (1989). He has since focused on biography, penning a celebrated one on Gabriel García Márquez, and preparing one on Mario Vargas Llosa.

In English

This event is organised jointly by Canning House and the Instituto Cervantes, with the kind support of the Embassy of Guatemala.

This event is free, but registration is required. To register, please email


December 7, 2017
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm


Instituto Cervantes London – new address off the Strand
15-19 Devereux Court
London, WC2R 3JJ United Kingdom
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Full Name
Culture Department at the Instituto Cervantes in London