Literature in an Argentine mass-circulation newsmagazine


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Literature in an Argentine mass-circulation newsmagazine "Primera Plana," 1962-1969
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vi, 398 leaves : ; 29 cm.
Moreland, Gregory E., 1962-
Publication Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
Primera plana   ( lcsh )
Argentine literature -- History and criticism   ( lcsh )
Periodicals -- Argentina   ( lcsh )
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )


Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Florida, 1996.
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 396-397).
Statement of Responsibility:
by Gregory E. Moreland.
General Note:
General Note:

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University of Florida
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oclc - 35757310
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Copyright 1996


Gregory E. Moreland


I would like to thank the College of Liberal Arts and
Sciences at the University of Florida for the 1995 Threadgill
Dissertation Fellowship which aided greatly in the completion
of this study.
Dr. Andrds Avellaneda deserves special thanks for the
encouragement and advice offered in his role as advisor and
friend. I am equally grateful to Professors Reynaldo
Jimenez, Diane Marting, and Terry McCoy for serving as the
other members of my committee.
I would also like to express my appreciation to TomAs
Eloy Martinez and Adolfo Prieto for their assistance in this
project. They graciously agreed to be interviewed, and their
comments and suggestions were invaluable.
Finally, I wish to thank my parents, Mr. and Mrs.
Kenneth Moreland, as well as my wife, Elisa. Without their
financial and moral support, none of this would have been




ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS..................................... iii

ABSTRACT .............................................. v

INTRODUCTION......................................... 1


LITERATURE IN PRIMERA PLANA, 1962-1969................ 47

Literary Setting................................... 47
"Libros"........................................... 58
General Characteristics of the Section.......... 58
Reviewers........................... ......... 109
The "Canon" According to Primera Plana............. 115
First Cultural Stage (#1-#87)...... ............ 115
Second Cultural Stage (#88-OJO)................. 143
Poetry canon............ ...... .......... 143
Poetry anti-canon............... ........... 173
Narrative canon........................... 183
Narrative anti-canon ......................... 255

SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS ................................ 279

APPENDIX A PRIMERA PLANA STAFF, 1962-1969............ 299



REFERENCES........................... ...... .... ...... 396

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH................................... 398

Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy



Gregory E. Moreland

August 1996

Chairman: Dr. Andr4s 0. Avellaneda
Major Department: Romance Languages and Literatures

Founded in 1962 by Jacobo Timerman, and modeled
after periodicals such as Time (United States) and Der
Spiegel (Germany), Primera Plana was the most influential
Argentine newsmagazine of the 1960s. Its span of publication
coincides precisely with two literary phenomena of great
import: the so-called "Boom" of Latin American literature
and a similarly successful period for Argentine literary
production. Not coincidentally, analysts of these two
related booms repeatedly mention the role of Primera Plana--
whose weekly circulation reached 60,000--in promoting the
literature and literary debates of this epoch. However,
despite the frequency of these observations and the
obligatory citations of certain key articles, no one has
carried out an in-depth study of the magazine's literary
policies and practices. The dissertation fills that gap,

documenting the promotion of literature in Primera Plana
during this critical period of Argentine cultural history.
The dissertation studies the magazine's contribution
within the context of the various "revolutions" occurring in
the 1960s. The "vanguard" role which Primera Plana
attributed to itself in the journalistic field had important
literary ramifications as well. Major findings include the
following: (1) the extent to which the magazine's
journalistic discourse paralleled its literary discourse;
(2) the continuity and coherence--the "collective voice"--
which characterized Primera Plana's literary reviews from
1962 to 1969; and (3) the magazine's insistent presentation
of Julio Cort&zar as the standard bearer of the (literary)
spirit of the times.
Future researchers of this topic and this historical
epoch should find the appendices to be particularly useful.
One provides a list of every individual who worked for
Primera Plana. A second includes the titles of all books
reviewed and articles appearing in the magazine's "Libros"
section. The third appendix lists every "Textos" selection--
this section was one of the magazine's major innovations--
and, in the process, offers an abbreviated list of authors
belonging to Primera Plana's literary canon.

Observers and participants alike often refer to the

1960s as a "golden age" of Argentine cultural history.

During this decade artistic expression flourished.

Literature, for instance, attracted the attention of

unprecedented numbers of Argentine readers. Writers and

publishers reaped the benefits of this increased interest in

literature, experiencing a "boom" the likes of which they

(and their successors) have not seen since. Confronted with

such an extraordinary phenomenon, it is only logical to ask:

"Why then? Why there? Why thus?"'

The Argentina of the 1960s was a society in the midst of

change. At the same time, monumental changes were occurring

throughout the "developed" world and in various other Latin

American nations. Put simply, revolution was "in the air."

It appeared that no sphere of human activity was safe from a

serious questioning of its assumptions, current practices,

and future development. In the realm of politics, events in

'John King, Sur: A Study of the Argentine Literary Journal and Its
Role in the Development of a Culture, 1931-1970 (Cambridge: Cambridge U
P, 1986) 5. As King points out, Francis Mulhern raises the same
questions in The Moment of Scrutiny (London: NLB, 1979) 3. And just as
Professor King declares his indebtedness to Mulhern's study of the
English magazine, I would like to acknowledge the influence of two books
by King on the methodology adopted for this dissertation: the
aforementioned Sur... and El Di Tella y el desarrollo cultural argentino
en la d4cada del sesenta (Buenos Aires: Ediciones de Arte Gaglianone,
1985). I will approach Primera Plana as King approaches Sur: as a
"detailed case study which pays attention to the magazine as history and
as text" (1). Furthermore, I view Primera Plana "as a process--with its
own internal history and conflicts--which developed in a certain
political and cultural setting" (2).

Cuba, Vietnam and France had widespread international
ramifications. The artistic realm experienced tremors of
equal magnitude. This multi-faceted social convulsion
reached a peak in the latter part of the 1960s. Its origins,
however, could be traced back, in many cases, to significant
developments from the previous decade. The Argentine case is

As Argentina prepared to celebrate the one-hundred-
fiftieth anniversary of its declaration of independence from
Spain (1960), a sense of optimism prevailed. Two years
earlier, voters had elected Arturo Frondizi of the Radical
Party (UCR) as President. His regime had been preceded by
that of Juan D. Per6n (1946-1955), and by a provisional
military government which forced Per6n out of the country and
attempted to eradicate all vestiges of Peronism. From the
military's point of view, one way of eliminating Peronism
from political life was its proscription. Frondizi's 1958
victory, then, was tainted by the fact that the Peronist
Party was not allowed to field candidates for the election.
President Frondizi's mandate, however, appeared much stronger
than that based solely on the percentage of votes cast in his
favor. His nationalist rhetoric during the campaign,
accompanied by promises to implement some Peronist policies
and repeal the prohibition of Peronist political activities,
led many to view Frondizi's six-year term with a cautious
degree of optimism.2
The nation's hopes were also buoyed by developments on

2 The writers for the important leftist journal, Contorno (1953-
1959), for example, were encouraged by Frondizi's ascension to the
Presidency. See William H. Katra, Contorno: Literary Engagement in
Post-Peronist Arqentina (Rutherford, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson UP, 1988).

the economic front. Although Frondizi disappointed many of
his supporters and created serious political opposition with
about-faces on campaign promises, he could brag of impressive
economic growth rates for 1960 and 1961. At the same time,
inflation descended rapidly. Therefore, early results of his
ambitious development program aimed at modernizing national
industry and infrastructure hinted that increasing prosperity
was on the horizon. The Argentine economy began to exhibit
characteristics of the so-called "consumer society,"
heretofore present in only the most "developed" countries.
Throughout the remainder of the decade access to a wide
variety of big ticket items--furniture, household appliances,
airplane travel, automobiles, and the like--increased
Optimism reigned in the cultural arena as well. The
Fondo Nacional de las Artes had been established in 1958 to
facilitate state funding of the arts. Numerous technical and
investigative institutes were created. The state university
system received additional financial support and new private
universities were founded. Sociology, thanks to the
pioneering efforts of Gino Germani, gained respect and earned
an important place in the academy.
Political, economic and artistic developments of the
late 1950s and early 1960s combined to encourage a hopeful
outlook for Argentina's future. This confluence of politics,
economics and art, of course, is not coincidental. Recent
literary criticism appears to be more accepting of the notion
that these three spheres of public life cannot be
compartmentalized. Analyses of texts, authors and/or

movements are incomplete if they fail to include reference to
the context in which the literature has been produced. In
the words of Pierre Bourdieu:

Ignorance of everything which goes to make
up the "mood of the age" produces a
derealization of works: stripped of
everything which attached them to the most
concrete debates of their time .
they are impoverished in the direction of
intellectualism or an empty humanism.3
This is particularly true of the period in question. A
strictly text-centered approach to the production and
reception of literature in the Argentina of the 1960s fails
to account for broader political, economic and cultural
phenomena which directly influence textual creation and
consumption. A focus limited to the literary text, for
example, does little to help us understand the case of Julio
CortAzar, the Argentine writer who labors in virtual
anonymity during the 1950s and then, rather suddenly,
explodes onto the international scene in the 1960s. A
sociological approach, on the other hand, allows for a more
fruitful fusion of literary (aesthetic) analysis and the
important extra-textual factors that contributed to
Cortazar's rise to stardom and his frequent appearance in the
pages of Primera Plana.
Bourdieu, a particularly insightful exponent of a
sociological analysis of cultural production, has stressed
this point for the past two decades. The "science of art and
literature," he argues, cannot be reductive; it must do no
less than "take into account everything which helps

3 Pierre Bourdieu, "The Field of Cultural Production, or: The
Economic World Reversed," Poetics 12.4-5 (1983): 314.

constitute the work as such."4 Moreover, discourse about a

literary text "is not a mere accompaniment, intended to

assist its perception and appreciation, but a stage in the

production of the work, of its meaning and value."' Those

involved in the creation of textual value include, among

others, publishers, critics and magazines. These actors

engage in struggles to discover and consecrate authors and
their texts. In the process of promoting and rejecting

certain writers, they stake out positions in the literary
field. They are, in short, competing for the power to make

authoritative critical determinations (i.e., what is

legitimate/illegitimate, new/old, revolutionary/conservative,

etc.). Primera Plana, with its extensive "Libros" section, a
prestigious literary prize, and very close links to the

Argentine publishing industry, was a major contender in the
1960s for control of the power to consecrate.

The sociology of literature does not constitute
just one more approach to literature. It is "essential to
literature becausee it insists upon a sociology of

literary knowledge and literary practice within the study of

literature." Stated even more broadly, a sociological
practice "raises questions basic to all intellectual


A sociological approach enables us to view literature

Bourdieu, "Field..." 317.
Pierre Bourdieu, "The Production of Belief: Contribution to an
Economy of Symbolic Goods," Media, Culture and Society: A Critical
Reader, Richard Collins et al., eds. (London: Sage, 1986) 162.
Phillipe Desan, Priscilla Parkhurst Ferguson, and Wendy Griswold,
"Mirrors, Frames, and Demons: Reflections on the Sociology of
Literature," Literature and Social Practice, P. Desan, P. Parkhurst
Ferguson, and W. Griswold, eds. (Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1989) 1.

from a broader perspective. For instance, the expression

"support for the arts" involves much more than "money

supplied to foment artistic production." In Buenos Aires, in

the 1960s, it was intricately related to issues such as the

Cuban Revolution, Argentine economic development, and United

States foreign policy. These complex issues, far from being

"extraneous" to art, as some critics would argue, are

essential to an understanding of artistic production during

this period.

The significance of the Cuban Revolution must not be
underestimated. The United States viewed Fidel Castro's

Communist regime as a threat to the hemisphere. Naturally,
Washington was deeply concerned about the alternative model

that this "New Society" might provide. It formulated the

Alliance for Progress to assist in the political and economic

development of other Latin American nations. One of the

obvious candidates for U.S. aid was the newly-elected

President Arturo Frondizi. The success of a "social

democratic" government in Argentina, reasoned many in

Washington (as well as in Buenos Aires, Mexico City, etc.),

would furnish an effective counterweight to the Cuban

example. Thus, public and private assistance from the United

States increased. U.S. corporations and foundations (Ford

and Rockefeller) raised their level of investment in
Argentina.7 They attempted to promote economic and artistic

Between 1959 and 1962, foreign capital investment in Argentina
averaged $170 million, 60 per cent of which came from the United States.
See Paul H. Lewis, The Crisis of Argentine Capitalism (Chapel Hill, NC:
U of North Carolina P, 1990): 303. Frondizi's attitude toward foreign
investment was summarized in this quotation: "It does not matter where
capital originates, only its functions matter. If it serves national
ends it is welcomed and useful." See Guido DiTella, Argentina Under
Per6n, 1973-1976 (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1983) 23.

development.' This coincided with the Frondizi
administration's support for development efforts, and, in a

very important way, helped inspire increased investment from

the Argentine private sector. The most famous early case of

private support for the arts was the founding of the

Institute Di Tella in 1958.

This private sector support, so crucial to the Argentine

artistic "boom" of the 1960s, would not have been possible

without the impressive growth of the national economy. Siam

Di Tella, for example, was a large company which produced a

variety of household appliances and automobiles. The growth

of culture, encouraged by large domestic and international

entities, then, went hand in hand with the growth of a

consumer society.

The convergence of economics, politics and culture
brings us to a closer look at the primary subject of this

study: the Argentine mass-circulation newsmagazine, Primera

Plana (PP). As a source of information and innovation,

purveyor of trends, and arbiter of taste, PP had no equal.

One would be hard pressed to find an account of the 1960s in

Argentina, on any subject, in which PP is not mentioned

and/or quoted. Yet, as King points out in his study of the

Institute Di Tella, one of PP's kindred spirits, the magazine

The importance of artistic development was highlighted in an
October 8, 1963, Primera Plana article, "Tambidn habra Alianza para la
Cultura," which reported on the first inter-American meeting of national
cultural directors, at the OAS headquarters in Washington, D.C. The
assembly's final declaration denounced "la deaventajosa posici6n en que
se encuentran los intereses permanentes de la cultural con relaci6n a
otros requerimientos de la actividad del Estado." Furthermore, the
document's signers agreed to "gestionar ante nuestros gobiernos la
adopci6n de las medidas necesarias para asegurar que las manifestaciones
de la cultural reciban el estimulo y el apoyo que deben tener dentro del
cuadro general de la Alianza para el Progreso" (35).

still "awaits its historian."9 The present study accepts this
challenge in part; I will document the place of literature in
the magazine. In other words, I shall strive to be PP's
"literary historian."

Founded in 1962 by Jacobo Timerman and modeled after
periodicals such as Time, L'Express (France), and Der Spiegel
(West Germany), PP was the most influential Argentine
newsmagazine of the 1960s. Its span of publication coincides

precisely with two literary phenomena of great import: the
so-called "Boom" of Latin American literature (roughly 1964-
1972), and a similarly successful period for Argentine
literature. Not coincidentally, analysts of these two
related booms repeatedly highlight the role of Primera
Plana--whose weekly circulation reached 60,000--in promoting
the literature and literary debates of this epoch. However,
despite the frequency of these observations and citations of
certain key articles (e.g., a cover story baptizing 1965 as
"The Year of Argentine Literature"), no one has carried out a
detailed study of the magazine's literary policies and

To appreciate the true extent of PP's cultural
significance, further comparison with its North American and
European counterparts is necessary. At first glance, a

9 King 22.

circulation of 60,000 may appear relatively small."0

However, when one considers that Argentina's 1970 population

was just under 24 million, it becomes clear that this was, in

fact, a very large readership. It it also important to note

that these readers were not subscribers; they purchased the

magazine weekly, usually at their local newsstand. What is

more, PP's own market research indicated that each issue of

the magazine was read by an average of five individuals. In

other words, actual readership could be estimated in the

neighborhood of 300,000. These circulation figures compare

favorably with those of Time, Newsweek, Der Spiegel and

L'Express, the premier newsmagazines of the epoch. Finally,

whereas readers in the United States could choose from only

two of these newsmagazines, and (West) German and French

readers were limited to just one, their Argentine colleagues

were able to select from four newsweeklies: PP, and the

0o According to Daniel H. Mazzei, "El promedio de venta neta para el
primer semestre de 1963 fue de 26,226 ejemplares y alcanz6 un promedio
de 38,188 para el primer semestre de 1965. En los seis meses previous al
golpe [de 1966] promedi6 50,145. A partir de entonces, los promedios de
ventas mensuales mas altos (verficadas por IVC [IVC=Instituto
Verificador de Circulaciones]) fueron: julio de 1966, 58,359; agosto de
1966, 52,538; junio de 1968, 58,322; julio de 1968, 59,060; agosto de
1968, 54,027; septiembre de 1968, 54,341; octubre de 1968, 51,219; junio
de 1969, 60,367; julio de 1969, 60,275; y agosto de 1969 (fecha de
clausura), 55,969." See his "Periodismo y political en los aftos '60:
Primera Plana y el Golpe military de 1966," Entrepasados. Revista de
historic 4.7 (1994): 42.

three competitors it spawned, Confirmado, AnAlisis and


An additional comparison with Time and Newsweek serves

to highlight the particular importance attached to literature

in the pages of PP. A typical issue of Time or Newsweek

during this period featured from three to five brief book

reviews. PP, in contrast, following an initial stage of

coverage similar to the North American magazines, gradually

Rough data concerning magazine circulation and national populations
is illustrative. For example, in the case of Primera Plana, a
circulation of 60,000 among a population of 24,000,000 translates into
one issue of Primera Plana per 400 Argentines. In 1967 Time boasted of
international sales of 4,600,000. Assuming that the large majority of
these sales occurred in the United States, with a 1970 population of
203,000,000, we can estimate one issue of Time per 44 Americans. The
figures for Newsweek, based on a worldwide circulation (1970) of
2,500,000, show one copy per 81 Americans. Der Spiegel, using 1964
circulation and population figures (600,000 and 57,000,000,
respectively), provides a ratio of one issue for 95 (West) Germans.
L'Express, using 1970 figures (645,000 and 50,000,000), was apparently
purchased by one of every 78 French citizens.
The total number of readers of Primera Plana also deserves further
consideration. The number of copies sold, of course, is much more
easily verified than the total readership. In this sense, and with the
aid of IVC statistics, we can accept Primera Plana's repeated
advertisements concerning paid readership. More problematic are figures
related to the number of persons who actually read the magazine.
Primera Plana frequently mentioned the five-to-one ratio which produced
a total readership five times that of the paid readership. However, it
was not clear to what extent this market research was conducted
"independently." Also, the magazine's own figures were sometimes
contradictory and/or confusing. For example, in a September 20, 1966,
advertisement Primera Plana proudly cited IVC figures for the first part
of that year (50,145). They were quick to add that this did not include
all readers. Studies by MARPLAN (Market Planning Services) indicated
that the magazine "circula entire una gran cantidad de lectores, y que
los mensajes de la revista llegan a mas de medio mill6n de personas:
508.000, para ser exactos." Gone was the five-to-one ratio which
produced an estimate of 300,000 total readers. In its place was a more
nebulously-worded affirmation that its "messages" reached more than
500,000 individuals; in other words, now more than ten readers were
exposed to each issue purchased. Therefore, while we cannot deny
Primera Plana's wide readership, we must also be careful not to accept
all its circulation claims at face value. If we believe, for instance,
that 508,000 people did in fact read Primera Plana, and recalculate
based on the previously-cited national population of 24,000,000, we come
up with a ratio of one issue per 47 Argentines.

increased the amount of space devoted to literature.12 By

1968, and especially just prior to its closure by the

military government on August 5, 1969, a normal issue

included a feature article on a literary figure, five or six

book reviews, a small sample of literary trivia called

"Biblioteca," and the regular "Textos" section. The latter,

one of PP's many journalistic innovations, featured the

literary works of both established and emerging writers.

Each week the magazine would secure permission from a

publisher to print a two-page excerpt from this author's

soon-to-be published book. In this way, authors received

widespread exposure, publishers received free publicity and

enjoyed increased sales, and PP could boast of its

contribution to the country's cultural development.

This extensive literary coverage, accompanied by heavy

advertising by publishing houses, gave PP the appearance of a

"literary journal." The high profile afforded to literature

was not a mere coincidence. It was a result of the literary

orientation of many of the journalists, outside contributors

and correspondents employed by PP. Two of the magazine's

most celebrated correspondents were Carlos Fuentes (Mexican)

12 I analyzed, for purposes of comparison, all issues of Newsweek for
1965 and all issues of Time for 1966. Another noticeable difference in
the literary coverage between the North American and Argentine magazines
is what might be described as a greater emphasis on "continuation" (or
"follow-up"). That is to say, the Newsweek/Time "Books" section appears
to have a more random, more eclectic flavor. We may read about an
author who is currently popular, and then not hear of him/her again.
Primera Plana, in contrast, seems to have a much clearer agenda,
repeatedly reviewing innovative authors as their subsequent works are
published and taking great care to place them in the context of other
writers engaged in similar literary practices. This is explained in
large part by the differing perspectives on literature held by the
magazines' reviewers. Those at Newsweek/Time may be described as much
more "traditional," while their counterparts at Primera Plana are
younger and more "revolutionary."

and Mario Vargas Llosa (Peruvian), young novelists, who along
with Gabriel Garcia MArquez (Colombian) and Julio CortAzar
(Argentine), epitomized the internationally acclaimed
movement known as the "New Latin American Narrative."
Employees of and/or contributors to PP included, among
others, Julio Ardiles Gray, Jos4 Bianco, Miguel Brasc6,
Ramiro de Casasbellas, Abelardo Castillo, Alberto Coust4,
Edgardo Cozarinsky, C4sar Fernandez Moreno, Manrique
Fernandez Moreno, Sara Gallardo, Eduardo Gudifo Kiefer, Luis
Harss, Juan Carlos Martelli, TomAs Eloy Martinez, Angel
Rama, Augusto Roa Bastos, Emir Rodriguez Monegal, N4stor
Sanchez, H4ctor Schmucler, Ernesto Sch66, Eduardo Stilman and
Osiris Troiani. A significant segment of PP's readership
responded to this orientation, avidly following and
contributing to the literary debates which occurred in the
"Libros" and "Cartas al Director" (later, "Correos")
The present study concerns itself primarily with
literature in PP. Nevertheless, as stated at the outset, I
will treat the periodical as a process which developed in a
certain place and at a certain time. A particularly
fascinating topic, in this regard, is the evolution of the
magazine itself. PP began in 1962 as something of an
Argentine version of Time. It continued as such until August
5, 1969, when the military government headed by General Juan
Carlos Ongania--which it had, ironically, helped to bring to
power three years earlier--ordered its closure. It continued
publication under two new names: Ojo (one issue) and
Periscopio (50 issues). Following a series of negotiations

with the new military government (coup within a coup), it was

allowed to resume publishing under its old name on September

8, 1970. During this 1970-1973 period PP's tone began to

change, as many new people were hired. Eventually, the

magazine which had for years been directed at an upper-middle

class clientele and which had relied heavily on (capitalist)

advertising to survive, became a mouthpiece for one sector of

the left wing of the Peronist movement, clamoring for the

return of Juan D. Per6n. As a result of this hostile

takeover--perhaps unprecedented in the annals of journalism--

PP became a shell of its former self and ceased publishing in

1973. Two subsequent attempts to revive it--one in 1973, the

other with the return to democracy in 1983--were short-lived

and unsuccessful.13

13 This study focuses on the "first stage" of P P, 1962-1969. I will,
nevertheless, make occasional reference to Oio, Periscopio and the
reincarnated PP, and will quote pertinent articles. It is interesting
to note that most observers and participants seem to ignore the
magazine's various reincarnations. See, for example, Maite Alvarado and
Renata Rocco-Cuzzi, "Primera Plana: el nuevo discurso periodistico de
la d4cada del '60," Punto de vista 7.22 (diciembre 1984): 27-30. They
describe PP as a "semanario publicado entire 1962 y 1969 (27).

The directors of PP marked the magazine's rebirth in
1970 with a feature article entitled "El retorno de Primera

Plana." Though written in the post-1969 period and in a
somewhat different sociopolitical context, the article
illustrates very well the impact that PP had in the Argentine
cultural arena of the previous decade. Utilizing this
article (#397, 9-8-70) as a point of departure, I shall
document PP's role in the transformation of Argentine
journalism during the 1960s.1

Not surprisingly, the tone of "El retorno de Primera
Plana" is self-congratulatory. As we shall see below, the
magazine had already established a long tradition of
trumpeting its own exploits. The boastful nature of PP's

self-appraisal, however, does not diminish the truth value of
its claims. Few would argue with the following statement:

Cuando en noviembre de 1962 apareci6
Primera Plana protagoniz6 un "boom"
indiscutible: no s61o captur6 la adhesi6n
de un pdblico intelectualmente select sino
que consigui6 cubrir de avisos mAs del
veinte por ciento de sus pAginas.

Simply put, PP succeeded where others had failed. However,
the magazine did recognize precursors from the previous two
decades. It paid special homage to the pioneering role of

To facilitate reading, all references to material contained in PP
will be placed in the body of the text, in parentheses. (#397, 9-8-70),
for example, refers to issue number 397, which appeared on September 8,
1970. Since we are dealing with a magazine, with well-defined sections
and a table of contents, I have opted, for reasons of clarity and space,
to exclude page numbers.

Que sucedi6 en siete dias, founded in 1946, and closed by the
first Peronist government, particularly with respect to its
efforts to practice "objetividad periodistica." It also
noted similarities with Luis Gonzalez O'Donnell's short-lived
experiment, Usted. Though it lasted only six months (1960-
1961), in a sense, Usted served as a test case for the
founders of PP. O'Donnell, who would serve as one of PP's
early chief editors, started Usted with the idea of making a
magazine for the "clase dirigente." It also included several
innovative sections which would later find their way into the
pages of PP.

The early success of PP soon engendered competitors.
In 1965 two magazines, Confirmado and AnAlisis, entered the
competition to appeal to Argentine readers. The former was
founded by Jacobo Timerman, the initial director of PP who
had left the magazine in July 1964. The latter targeted the
same upscale reader being courted by PP and Confirmado.
Editorial Abril then joined the fray in 1968, converting its
monthly, Panorama, into a weekly newsmagazine.
The appearance of PP clearly altered the journalistic
landscape. According to the 1970 feature article:
Lo cierto es que el advenimiento de las
revistas de noticias ha modificado
drAsticamente la estructura de la
comunicaci6n de masas en la Argentina.
Bastaria con agregar que Buenos Aires es
la 6nica cuidad del mundo donde conviven
cuatro publicaciones de este tipo
(Confirmado, AnAlisis, Panorama, PRIMERA
PLANA), junto a cuatro semanarios de interns
general (Asi, Gente, Siete Dias,
Semana GrAfica). Hoy, las entrelineas de
los diarios son mas anchas y dicen mAs cosas;
hoy, en los puestos directives de esas

Redacciones actdan 28 hombres de PRIMERA

Why was PP so influential? What made it so innovative? To
answer these questions, we must return to the magazine's
origins and trace its evolution.

In his "Carta al lector" celebrating PP's first
anniversary (#53, 11-12-63), Timerman summarized several
items mentioned in the previous fifty two opening letters.
In order to situate PP in terms of the Argentina of the
1960s, and to understand the philosophy which guided the
magazine's efforts to carry out a journalistic and cultural
mission, it is useful to look carefully at this document,
which, in a sense, reads as PP's first manifesto.

Timerman started by quoting from a circular aimed at
raising initial support among potential readers and

En todo el mundo, el pdblico de las grandes
revistas semanales de noticias se ha
integrado con aquellos hombres y mujeres
que, en raz6n de sus importantes actividades,
no tienen tiempo para perder: profesionales,
ejecutivos, comerciantes, industriales,
altos empleados, viajeros. Todas estas
personas necesitan una dosis de informaci6n
mayor que la habitualmente proporcionada por
los diarios y, adem&s, requieren una
interpretaci6n mAs complete y mAs profunda
de los hechos de la actualidad. Ese pdblico
no se content con leer noticias aisladas,
como las que proporcionan los diarios, sino
que, ademas, necesita antecedentes,
explicaciones y entretelones que ubiquen a
cada hecho dentro de su respective process:
esto es lo que llamamos informaci6n coherente.

2 The same article points out that following the 1969 governmental
prohibition of PP, a new magazine appeared. Pro-government in
orientation, the newcomer attempted to cash in on PP's reputation by
calling itself Cuarto Plano. A judge's decision forced a name change,
Cuarto Nivel, but the magazine lasted only three months.

PP's journalists, in their quest to provide information that
was "clara, condensada, imparcial y coherente," were required
to answer seven fundamental questions: What? Who? When?

How? Where? Why? For what reason?

The result of this "rigorous" method, according to
Timerman, was that the magazine had captured the "sector mas
positive y dinAmico del pdblico lector argentino."
Advertising agency studies carried out independently produced
this profile of PP's 250,000 readers:

[P]or lo menos el 70 por ciento se desempeia
en actividades donde la capacidad de
decision, el poder de iniciativa, es vital
(profesionales, ejecutivos, hombres de
negocios, altos funcionarios). Mas de
la mitad de los lectores son jefes de
families pr6speramente constituidas; el 65
por ciento, por ejemplo, vive en su casa
propia. La ubicaci6n social de los lectores
de PRIMERA PLANA, y con ello su nivel
adquisitivo, es naturalmente alta; pero no
se trata de rentistas abdlicos ni de herederos
mimados por la fortune, sino, sencillamente,
de hombres y mujeres de personalidad fuerte
y de clara mentalidad.

PP, in other words, was in business to produce information
for these middle- and upper-middle class individuals involved
in the construction of a modern, prosperous nation. From
PP's perspective, this helped to explain why it was the first
newsmagazine of its kind to successfully establish itself in
Argentina. This also explained why PP had not repeated what
it deemed to be the worn-out practice of adopting a
conventional editorial stance. The directors of the magazine
were convinced that, in Argentina,

hay cada vez m&s personas que logran
escapar al peligro de la masificaci6n, de la
standardizaci6n de ideas y opinions, que es
uno de los mAximos desafios de los tiempos
modernos; personas que desconflan de las

ideas en lata, que prefieren detalles
precisos en lugar de fotos en colors, y
elements de juicio en lugar de slogans.
The ideas expressed in this first-anniversary letter
would be repeated on numerous occasions during the rest of
the decade. PP's affinities with Time, Newsweek, and similar

European publications were frequently mentioned. PP made no
secret of its admiration for these international colleagues
and consistently reminded readers of the cooperative
agreements it had signed with, among others, Newsweek, Vita
(Italy), L'Express and Le Monde. At the end of 1966 they
expanded the agreement with Newsweek, gaining exclusive
rights to reproduce that magazine's material throughout the
Americas. In addition, they began to offer total or partial
rights to reproduce PP articles and photographs to similar
magazines across the continent. In other words, in a few
short years, PP's scope had expanded far beyond Argentine
PP also lost few opportunities, domestically or
internationally, to brag about its elite readership. An
early example is provided by the magazine's participation in
the September, 1963, Primera Convenci6n Argentina de Agencias
de Publicidad, in Mar del Plata. The magazine's presence
there underscored its belief that advertising had become one
of the motors of modern society and, at the same time, a
prerequisite for journalistic stability. The text of PP's
large panel advertisement read as follows:

Este sefor lee PRIMERA PLANA: Tiene alrededor
de 40 aios. Es casado, con hijos adolescents.
Tiene casa propia o est& por comprarla.
Le gusta tener su hogar bien "equipado" (ropas,
muebles, artefactos, comestibles, bebidas,
etc.). Tiene auto o est& por comprarlo.

Prefiere viajar en avi6n y todos los anos
41 y su familiar toman vacaciones. Es ejecutivo
professional, universitario o alto empleado.
Sus ingresos mensuales oscilan entire los 35.000
PLANA. (#47, 10-1-63)

Six years later, when the market was saturated with

like-minded rivals, PP used a study conducted for Time by the

Erdos and Morgan Agency. The headline, printed in bold

letters, in English, announced: "MAGAZINES READ AND


(#319, 2-4-69).' The ad pointed out that the "Jockey Club es

ndcleo representative de los sectors mAs prestigiosos y de

ingresos mas altos en la sociedad argentina: lo que los

soci61ogos llaman 'clase A'." It concluded with a summary of

the survey results: "Entre los socios del Jockey Club,

PRIMERA PLANA se lee el double, es preferida tres veces mas y

posee el triple de prestigio que cualquiera otra revista

argentina. Felicitamos a Time por el hallazgo. Segdn esta

encuesta, los miembros de la clase alta porteia la leen casi

tanto como leen PRIMERA PLANA."

A sophisticated understanding of market forces allowed

PP to utilize creative and effective techniques of self-

promotion. In a move that was audacious for the epoch, the

magazine began, after only 22 weeks, to advertise its two

3 A note regarding the use of English and Spanish (and other
languages) is necessary to avoid possible confusion arising from PP's
use of words, phrases, titles and, at times, whole texts in a variety of
languages. To simplify matters, I have opted to provide no
translations. Any material quoted in the dissertation appears as such
in PP. That is to say, from this point on there will be no need for the
clarification, "in English." Therefore, any citation in a language
other than Spanish will be reproduced in that language, just as it
appears on the pages of PP.

luxuriously bound volumes of the first 27 issues

(1-13, 14-27). Readers were encouraged to reserve their own
collection as a "material permanent de consult en su
biblioteca" (#22, 4-9-63). Subsequent advertisements would
describe the collection as an "archivo sistemAtico,
sintetico, insustituible" (#27, 5-14-63), "indispensable en
su hogar o en su oficina" (#51, 10-29-63). And, as an early
indication of the magazine's awareness of its role in the
writing of history, these volumes furnished the collector an
"archivo que, afo tras afo, le resultarA mas dtil, mas
valioso y mas indispensable" (#51, 10-29-63). Later, as each
leather-bound volume came out, PP assiduously promoted its

Slogans crafted to publicize the magazine left little
doubt as to a highly developed sense of self-worth. At the
outset, PP offered "Toda la informaci6n de todas las
semanas," "Toda la informaci6n de todo el mundo de todas las
semanas," and "Clase A" news. It later called itself "La
revista de noticias de mayor circulaci6n" and "La revista de
noticias mejor informada." A growing international presence
made it "una flecha sobre todo el mundo" and "el hilo que une
la Argentina con el mundo." When the twelfth bound volume
appeared, the reader had access to nothing less than "Doce
respuestas para todas las preguntas."
The breadth of domestic and international coverage was
another area in which PP could rightfully sing its own
praises. Editors and reporters alike frequently
criss-crossed the globe in search of exclusive stories. The
most notable early example of this policy--virtually unheard

of in Argentine journalism prior to the appearance of PP--was
TomAs Eloy Martinez's trip to Rome and Jerusalem to cover

Pope Paul's pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

PP placed numerous

ads to announce that this exclusive report--Martinez was the
only Argentine journalist and one of the few Latin Americans
there--would appear in an upcoming issue (#60, 12-31-63; #61,
1-7-64; #62, 1-14-64).

As the years passed, PP succeeded in producing articles
that astonished Argentine readers. It became commonplace to
open the magazine and find that Martinez was in Stockholm,
Ramiro de Casasbellas was in New York, Silvia Rudni was
reporting from Paris, and Victorio I. S. Dalle Nogare was in
Tokyo informing the Japanese about Argentina and PP. Reports
and exclusive interviews were filed from numerous European
and Latin American capitals. PP published the first, the
only, and/or the most complete stories in the Argentine
popular press on topics as diverse as the Catholic Church, US
and Soviet space programs, robots, Luis Bufuel, Samuel
Beckett, Julio Cort&zar, and Claude Levi-Strauss.
Furthermore, PP reporters were the only Argentines and/or
Latin Americans present at events such as the 50th
anniversary of the Russian Revolution, the World Advertising
Congress, the annual meeting of the International Advertising
Association, deliberations by the International Monetary Fund
and World Bank, a reunion of the World Council of Churches,
and so on. As the magazine proclaimed, it was truly the
Argentine reader's "ojo para ver el mundo" (#127, 4-13-65).

PP made frequent use of the symbolism inherent in the
term "ojo." They traveled so much, they affirmed, because

their readers preferred that "ojos argentinos" transmit the

most important news of each week. They felt it necessary

that the magazine "difundir lo argentino, con espiritu
argentino" (#87, 7-7-64). But an Argentine orientation
implied much more than blind nationalism:

(I]mplica, ante todo, una selecci6n:
desechar lo negative y resaltar lo positive,
tratar de que los lectores obtengan al cabo
de cada edici6n una imagen clara de un pais
donde no s61o se dirimen conflicts
politicos y sociales sino, tambi4n, donde se
trabaja y se va adelante. De ahi, por
ejemplo, nuestra constant vigilancia sobre
sectors a menudo olvidados por la
informaci6n: las ciencias, las artes, las
letras, el comercio, la industrial.

Moreover, PP's "sano nacionalismo" (#8, 1-1-63) did not cater
to xenophobic tendencies. Just as their journalistic and
patriotic duty prohibited isolation from national reality, so
too did it demand that Argentines be aware of events taking
place in the rest of the world.'

PP demonstrated another facet of its innovative
tendencies upon celebrating the magazine's second anniversary
(#106, 11-17-64). Once again, after hinting at certain
guiding principles in many of the previous year's "Cartas al
lector," PP synthesized them and proceeded to the main topic.
This time, the impetus was provided by a recent cover devoted
to Julio Cort&zar:

Cuando PRIMERA PLANA alberg6 en su portada,
veinte dias atr&s, al narrador Julio Cort&zar,
4 It bears repeating that 0io was the name of the magazine created to
immediately replace the proscribed PP in August, 1969. Authorities
allowed but one issue of the new magazine. In response, PP's directors
started another magazine, Periscopio, using the same symbolism. And,
when the military government finally permitted use of the magazine's
original name, PP created another clever promotional slogan: "1OJO! Ya
podemos leer PRIMERA PLANA sin necesidad de usar un PERISCOPIO" (#397,

sabia que no era un riesgo quebrar la
tradici6n argentina segdn la cual el
periodismo s61o constitute un eco rutinario
de los hechos, no una llamada de atenci6n.
Aquel ndmero, las cifras lo probaron despuds,
no modific6 el nivel de ventas. Los 200.000
lectores de PRIMERA PLANA han aprendido,
junto a quienes para ellos redactan estas
columns, que ninguna zona de la actividad
humana debe descuidarse, que el mundo lo
comparten Harold Wilson y Federico Fellini.
El trasegado concept de la revista political,
donde los demAs temas se tocaban por encima y
sin fervor, se desmoron6 hace media centuria
en el exterior y est& ya superado en nuestro
pais. No es un desplante, sino una evidencia,
decir que PRIMERA PLANA fue el artifice de
esa superaci6n. El vasto espacio concedido a
materials generalmente despreciadas como
libros o medicine, el aporte de humor y
comentarios firmados, los servicios de
prestigiosas publicaciones internacionales,
el envio intermitente de corresponsales al
coraz6n de cada event, marcan el modo
elegido para cubrir las pAginas. Pero
atestiguan, adem&s, al modo elegido para
convertir el periodismo en un estado de Animo,
un vinculo, una comunicaci6n cAlida entire
habitantes de una misma y maravillosa

We have already observed that providing insightt was a
significant part of PP's mission. In addition to viewing
itself as an "ojo," PP also stressed its role as a "voz."
Numerous letters, both to and from the editor, repeated the
notion that PP had created a reading community engaged in
mutually beneficial dialogue. Both sides had a voice: "Cada
edici6n de PRIMERA PLANA puede ser vista, entonces, como un
circuit de preguntas y respuestas en las que hasta los
propios lectores--en las paginas que transcriben sus
cartas--tienen voz" (#126, 4-6-65).'

5 The question of who actually wrote many of these letters is quite
intriguing. According to TomAs Eloy Martinez, some "70 por ciento"
might have been forged (telephone interview, 12 December 1994).

PP was probably able to communicate so effectively with
its readers because it did not underestimate them. It strove
to be as objective as possible, but admitted that total
objectivity was simply impossible:

Los iniciados en ciertos secrets del
periodismo saben muy bien que aun dentro de
la mAs absolute "objetividad"--esto es, la
limitaci6n del periodista a exponer "hechos",
no opiniones--la simple selecci6n que se
haga de esos hechos y la selecci6n que se
haga de los aspects parciales de cada uno
de esos hechos son suficientes para
predeterminar la opini6n, la conclusion
aparentemente libre que se ha de former el
lector. (#31, 6-11-63)
In essence, it may be said that PP and its readers carried
out a dialogue between leaders: PP proclaimed its leadership
role in the journalistic field at the same time that it wrote
for the intellectual and business leaders of the Argentine
community. Both were in the vanguard, rejecting what they
considered antiquated schemes that had retarded progress and
opening new paths toward the modernization of Argentina.

"Modernization" was the key word. In fact, it was the
buzzword of the epoch. PP professed an interest in
modernizing all aspects of Argentine society. One of the
areas most in need of renovation was that which enabled
communication: language. They believed that the concerns of
the print media during this period could be summed up as
follows: "Publicidad, diagramaci6n, todo eso es important;
pero la clave de nuestro 6xito est& en la modernizaci6n de
nuestro lenguaje" (#81, 5-26-64).
This attempt to modernize language was evident in
virtually all sections of PP and took two forms. On the one
hand, it could be found in a general policy to extend the

boundaries of journalistic practice, to go beyond "la mera
informaci6n, el simple amontonamiento de datos y hechos"
(#84, 6-16-64). The modern reader desired a "panorama de
absolute profundidad" and an "aporte paralelo a las noticias"
(#171, 4-5-66). Therefore, PP took things a step further:
rather than simply delivering information, it defined its
mission as one of producing information (#115, 1-19-65).
On the other hand, and at a more specific level, there
appeared to be a conscious effort to employ a more "literary"
style. As mentioned above, this is not surprising, given the
literary background of many writers for PP. Observers have
commented on this tendency. Alvarado and Rocco-Cuzzi, for
instance, notice the "ficcionalizaci6n" of PP's style, the
constante remisi6n al intertexto literario," and the
"contaminaci6n del discurso periodistico con el discurso
These related concepts of taking journalism one step
further and making use of a more creative language help to
explain PP's oft-stated desire to cover topics traditionally
given short shrift by the mass media. By the same token, it
also served to balance the profession's seemingly incessant
recitation of Argentine ills with positive examples of
national achievement. As one "Carta al lector" declared:

Hasta los turistas m&s despreocupados han
terminado por descubrir que no hay naci6n
latinoamericana--salvo el Brasil de los
iltimos afos--donde la ciencia, las artes
y la cultural alcanzan un volume tan
trascendental como en la Repdblica
Argentina. No es obra del azar, sino una
tradici6n que debe de remontarse a 1700,
cuando los jesuitas introdujeron en el pals
la primera imprenta. Y es, tambi6n, una
8 Alvarado and Rocco-Cuzzi 27.

especie de orgullo que los argentinos suelen
sentir, sobre todo despues de haberse puesto
en contact con otros pueblos y otras
civilizaciones. (#98, 9-22-64)
Articles on Argentine scientific and artistic achievements
filled the pages of PP. However, the magazine did not
satisfy itself with passive coverage of success; instead, it
actively sought to promote Argentine development. This was
particularly true with respect to the field of culture.
In a country where state support for culture had
traditionally been lacking, it fell upon private
organizations to take up the slack. As we have seen, the
Institute Di Tella was one of the first private institutions
to accept the challenge. PP shared this vision and, in
addition to heavily publicizing the Instituto Di Tella's
activities, initiated its own cultural enterprises. In
reality, PP was only practicing what it preached. If
journalism was truly a vehicle of creation, then it only made
sense to promote creativity within the Argentine artistic
community at large. The most prominent example of this
attitude was the magazine's annual literary contest, first
conducted in 1964.
The announcement of the initial "Premios Primera Plana"
was very significant:

Algunos de los miembros de esta redacci6n--
donde el promedio de edades no llega a
los 35 afios--tienen todavia con sus padres
discusiones sobre si vale o no la pena
ver un film argentino, leer un libro
argentino, entrar en pol6mica con un
pensador argentino. Es una cosa
desagradable: a veces, esas pol6micas se
cierran con observaciones tales como "y
bueno, para ser national, no est& tan mal".
Es just admitir que esa actitud de
autodesprecio intellectual, muy difundida

en la generaci6n anterior--muchos de
nosotros hemos sido educados mediante
traducciones--est& siendo ahora reemplazada
por una mayor fortaleza spiritual, por una
6ptica mas autdntica para juzgar los vicios
y las virtudes de este pals.
Que este pals se estA volviendo m&s sincero
y menos masoquista lo prueba, por ejemplo,
la repercusi6n que en todos los casos ha
tenido nuestro prop6sito de dar luz sobre
los hombres en la Argentina que trabajan por
elevar el prestigio y el nivel cultural. Es
alentador observer que las informaciones
sobre 4xitos cientificos o artisticos, por
ejemplo, han merecido un mayor ndmero de
comentarios elogiosos en la secci6n "Cartas
de los lectores" que otros temas
pretendidamente mas populares o, sencillamente,
mas demag6gicos. Esa persistent actitud de
los lectores nos ha ayudado a insistir en
la linea indicada. Ahora damos un paso mas
en el mismo sentido, con la creaci6n de los
Premios PRIMERA PLANA de Novela y Ensayo.
(#85, 6-23-64)'
In keeping with tradition, PP enthusiastically promoted the
literary contest and, true to its form, declared that the
second prize awarded (in 1966, for novels written in 1965)
was the "mas important de los que se conceden en los passes
de habla espahola" (#188, 8-2-66), as well as the "mayor
acontecimiento cultural del aio" (#189, 8-9-66).'
The emphasis on creativity could also be found in PP's
view of another of its missions, namely, the writing of
Argentine history. Writers for PP felt an obligation to
contribute to Argentine historiography. They were proud of
their role in helping "escribir la complicada historic de la
Historia" (#99, 10-29-64). The most elaborate attempt began
in mid-1965 (#136, 6-15-65) and continued, in four

Details regarding the awarding of these prizes will be described
PP also teamed up with the Casa Argentina en Israel to offer a
"Premio de Artes Plasticas" (#284, 6-4-68).

installments, until the magazine was banned in 1969.

Entitled "Historia del Peronismo," this series of articles

was based on exhaustive research extending from the pre-

October 17, 1945, period to Per6n's post-1955 exile.9 PP

claimed that the story was necessary because, as the country

approached the twentieth anniversary of October 17, 1945--

"entre las fechas decisivas de la Argentina"--nobody had

written a "relato precise de las tensas visperas" of that

fateful day. PP assumed the task, "sin antipatias ni

simpatias," in order to contribute to a "mejor entendimiento

de la realidad" (#136, 6-15-65).

Another noteworthy historiographical endeavor was

occasioned by the 150th anniversary of Argentine

independence. Osiris Troiani, one of the magazine's

"Secretarios de Redacci6n," wrote an essay entitled "La

verdadera historic del 9 de julio." Here is how PP described

the piece (#184, 7-5-66):

En busca de un enfoque no trillado y para
To let readers know exactly what went into the preparation of the
series, PP gave this meticulous account:
"En este numero (p&ginas 36/38) concluye la segunda parte de la
"Historia del Peronismo," sesenta notas que han cubierto el perlodo
corrido entire las elecciones generals de 1946 y el 4 de junior de 1952.
A la espera de la litima series, dedicada a reconstruir la incomplete
segunda Presidencia de Per6n, su derrocamiento y exilio,. sin duda
interesar&n al lector algunos pormenores t4cnicos sobre el capitulo que
hoy cerramos.
Este capitulo exigi6 la consult de 236 libros y folletos, am6n de
los Diarios de Sesiones y la prensa de la 4poca, inclusive la
clandestine, a menudo ignorada; entrevistas a 136 personas (72
peronistas, 55 opositores y 9 imparciales; de los 72 peronistas, 58
ocuparon cargos en el Gobierno, y uno de ellos la Presidencia); la
compulsa de 23 archives pdblicos y privados, y el consume de 226 paginas
de la revista. El interns despertado por nuestra Historia no s61lo debe
medirse por los intentos similares que emprendieron media docena de
colegas; tambien por el volume de cartas que nos han 11egado y que
absorbi6 la secci6n Correo: el 87 por ciento de ellas ampliaba datos de
la Historia; el 4 por ciento rectificaba informaciones y el 9 por ciento
restante contuvo opinions subjetivas sobre el trabajo" (#246, 9-12-67).

huir de las fatigosas convenciones
hist6ricas, hemos elegido, como hilo
conductor del relato, a fray Cayetano
Rodriguez, el dnico periodista present en
el Congress de TucumAn, una figure olvidada
que hace 150 aios obtuvo la exclusividad de
una noticia apasionante, solemne.
A regular reader of the magazine could not help but notice
the focus on the lone journalist who obtained an exclusive
story, and the similarities, as we shall see below, with PP's
approach to the study of literature.
The same disdain for outdated schemes, stale cliches,
and resistance to innovation that informed PP's outlook in
matters of politics, economics and history also guided its
selection and presentation of the arts. Different sections
of the magazine featured the arts. The "Libros" section,
with its extensive treatment of literature--in fact, space
devoted to literary works far outweighed attention to
nonliterary works--offers perhaps the most salient example.
Once again, PP broke with journalistic tradition in its
presentation of books:

Hasta el NQ 8, PRIMERA PLANA no cont6 con una
secci6n bibliogr&fica stable, a pesar de que
la mayoria de sus redactores pugnaba por
verla aparecer. No era fAcil. Una desoladora
rutina habia terminado por esterilizar, en la
prensa commercial argentina, a tan atrayente
rubro de informaci6n. Salvo esporadicas
excepciones, la despreocupaci6n acab6 por
reemplazar al cuidado, las f6rmulas hechas
vencieron, y un escritor de la talla de
Roberto Arlt dej6 testimonio, en el pr61ogo
de sus Lanzallamas, de un opaco desierto.
Cien ndmeros despuds de aquel comienzo,
PRIMERA PLANA no est& disconforme con la
ruta elegida: ni critical farragosa, ni
noticia apresurada. Selecci6n previa, y
luego, opinions accesibles, contact con
los autores, investigaci6n de sus vidas y
su quehacer literarios, vigilancia de la

producci6n extranjera, buceos en las
bibliotecas. Cuando el lector recibe el
par de carillas que habitualmente se destina
a cada libro, debe encontrar algo mas que
muletillas y un resume argumental Las
editoriales argentinas suelen ser reacias a
la publicidad: el hecho de que cada dia
avisen mas en nuestras columns ofrece un
sintoma nada despreciable del predicament
alcanzado. (#107, 11-24-64)

In short, PP's book reviewers considered themselves rigorous,

professional and well-informed. What is more, the editors

rarely failed to remind readers that their columnists,

collaborators, reviewers and reporters possessed great

expertise and were often distinguished individuals in their


PP, then, owed its popularity to a wide variety of
factors. Featuring a well-trained staff of ambitious young

reporters, it served as a barometer which enabled Argentine

readers to anticipate the winds of change blowing throughout

the country, the hemisphere and the world. These reporters

helped readers make connections between what sometimes seemed

to be isolated events. In this respect, PP considered itself

guided by a golden rule: "[L]a de no divorciar las obras y
10 An example of the tone of such an accolade appeared in the
announcement concerning Mario Vargas Llosa: "PRIMERA PLANA incorpor6 a
su 'staff' a Mario Vargas Llosa, un novelist peruano de 29 aifos, cuyo
primer libro--Los jefes--reeditado en Buenos Aires, se convirti6
vertiginosamente en un 'best-seller' (pagina 59). Desde la
corresponsalla en Paris, Vargas Llosa--jurado del premio Formentor,
1965, la mas alta distinci6n literaria despuds del Nobel--recomenzar&
las experiencias periodisticas que hicieron notorio su nombre en la
Agence France Presse, de Paris, y en la Radiodiffusion-Television
Frangaise" (#129, 4-27-65).
PP explained its use of experts as follows: "Por lo general, Primera
Plana busca que los responsables de cada informaci6n y cada comentario
que dirige a sus lectores sea un especialista en el oficio de
comunicarse con ellos: sus redactores, sus columnistas, sus servicios
especiales del interior y el exterior, participan de la misma ambici6n.
Por eso son estables y la revista prefiere no ofrecer sus paginas a
colaboradores ocasionales" (#143, 8-3-65).

los hechos de sus autores o protagonistas, y al rev6s, porque
esa fusi6n jams se quiebra, en arte o en political, en
ciencia o en economic" (#127, 4-13-65).

The success of PP was so spectacular that its directors
decided to expand even further. Expansion efforts were aimed
in three directions: the female reading public, the business
community, and the rest of America. All three campaigns
evinced the confidence of a periodical that had clearly made
its mark.
In the second half of 1965 PP targeted Argentine women
with a monthly supplement called Primera Dama. PP readers
were informed: "Al cabo de tres meses de prolija
preparaci6n, se incorpora a este ndmero, por primera vez, un
suplemento mensual en el que las modas, las costumbres, los
hechos sociales y hasta el paso del tiempo cobran un acento
particularisimo: el acento de lo absolutamente argentino"
(#150, 9-21-65). An advertisement for the following month's
32-page supplement painted this portrait:

Primera Dama, el suplemento mensual de
PRIMERA PLANA, aparece con la edici6n de 26
de octubre. Estos son sus temas centrales.
*El Tigre y los deportes chic de la primavera.
*Cosmetica: C6mo vestir los ojos, los
labios, el pelo y las uias en los dias de sol.
*Muebles de jardin: Los trastos que
resucitan. *Siete maneras de preparar
un caf4 perfect. *Los nuevos estilos de
anteojos de sol. *La moda de los postres
criollos. Y su Extravagario, su Snobisimo,
sus Cr6nicas sobre los casamientos de la
temporada. (#154, 10-19-65)

This type of promotional rhetoric was typical of the epoch.
Viewed from a present-day perspective, it seems paternalistic

and sexist." In any case, the scope of the Primera Dama

campaign paled in comparison to that aimed at the business

In March of 1967 ads began to appear for Editorial
Primera Plana's new magazine, Competencia. The first one

(#222, 3-28-67) showed a well-dressed man holding a briefcase
as he perused the numerous magazines displayed at a local
kiosk. The headline read: "Aqui no la va a encontrar." The
text proceeded to explain that he would not find it there
because Competencia "llegar& a sus lectores dnicamente a
trav6s de suscripciones." Finally, the potential subscriber
was informed that, although the contents of the first issue
were still a secret, he could rest assured of high quality
because the "notas corren a cargo de los redactores

especializados de Primera Plana. Usted ya los conoce."

The following week's ad (#223, 4-4-67) was more
specific. It described the magazine's format and stated:
"El estilo ya lo conoce: es el de Primera Plana." And, in
an echo of PP's own initial propaganda, it stressed that the

new magazine would be read by a select group of business
leaders, "personas de figuraci6n y poder adquisitivo reales."

One week later, Competencia's first issue went to press.
(#224, 4-11-67). The reader now faced a pleasant dilemma:

Durante m&s de cinco afos Primera Plana se
aduef6 de su tiempo de lectura y monopoliz6
su interns. Ahora, una nueva revista,
Competencia, aparece para compartir ese
privilegio. Si usted est& vinculado a la
actividad empresaria o interesado en ella,

The portrayal of women in PP, in the magazine as a whole, or in
specific areas such as advertising and literature, offers fascinating
material for feminist studies of Argentine culture.

en adelante tendrA que dividir su tiempo
para leer:
*En Primera Plana, como siempre, la mejor
resena de la actualidad argentina y mundial
en todas las actividades.
*En Competencia, los temas que preocupan al
mundo de los negocios, tratados en
profundidad y extension.

The marketing campaign for PP's new biweekly "competitor"
continued unabated until the closure of PP in 1969. It was
considered so important that the "casa de gobierno" took out
twenty subscriptions (#248, 9-26-67), and "[t]oda empresa,
instituci6n o repartici6n de importancia esta suscripta a mAs
de un ejemplar (#338, 6-17-69). Each issue, PP
averred, was read by "un promedio de 17 personas el
maximo indice de lectura entire las publicaciones argentinas"
(#338, 6-17-69). It was also deemed an advertiser's dream
because "sus avisos son perennes. Cada suscriptor recibe un
indice clasificado por temas. Encuadernados, los ejemplares
integran preciosas colecciones de consult Su vigencia
active es prActicamente eterna" (#341, 7-8-69).
Aggressive marketing of Competencia was accompanied by a
new campaign on behalf of PP. Readers who wished to atarr
cabos" were advised to seek help from PP, where there were
"setenta cerebros para cooperar con el suyo desenredando el
hilo de los acontecimientos" (#323, 3-4-69). PP could also
assist in planning for the future because its loyal readers
had long profited from "nuestros sabrosos y seguros
pron6sticos" (#331, 4-29-69).
Interestingly enough, these two promotional campaigns
appeared to merge, and, in a sense, complete a cycle, with
the closure of PP. The text of a Competencia ad which

appeared in the sole issue of Ojo (#1, 8-12-69) could just as
easily have been written for PP. What is more, it seems to

sum up perfectly an entire PP philosophy regarding leaders
and followers, creators and consumers, vanguards and

traditionalists, that applies equally to the realm of
politics, economics and, as we shall see in PP's treatment of
literature, culture as well. Here is the text of the
advertisement in its entirety:

Aunque sean menos, los decisivos pesan mas.
Las elites administrativas y tecnol6gicas,
privadas y oficiales, crecen ano a aho.
Los pocos cada vez son mas. Y su peso
publicitario es mayor. Integran una
sociedad-piloto de consumo. Irradian
h&bitos, tendencies, marcas, prestigio.
Son la imagen ejemplar. Y confieren imagen.
Tras ellos march la expectaci6n mimetica de
las mayorias, prontas a copiarlos en sus
menores detalles.
"El medio es el mensaje," proclama Marshall
McLuhan. Como 6rgano de comunicaci6n de esas
elites, COMPETENCIA confiere "imagen de marca":
diga d6nde public y le diran cuanto vale para
el consenso. COMPETENCIA institucionaliza. Y
al institucionalizar, vende.

The third area of expansion extended beyond the
country's borders. A short article commemorating PP's sixth
anniversary (#308, 11-19-68) recapitulated its guiding role
in the development of Argentine journalism. They reiterated
their independence from any type of governmental or
institutional funding or pressure. They highlighted the
magazine's "divulgaci6n y defense de la cultural national,"
and declared their pride in being Argentine. Nevertheless,
Argentina was part of a larger global community and the
editors had also worked hard to make PP's presence felt "en
los puntos mAs distantes de Buenos Aires." Though the

magazine had already achieved success throughout South
America, they wanted to increase its exposure still further.
Accordingly, they sent representatives to the New York
offices of Newsweek to give a series of six presentations in
one week. They were pleased by the reception:

El interns despertado por nuestra
presencia fue asombroso. En verdad,
presentamos a la Argentina mAs que a
Primera Plana y Competencia: el film de
20 minutes proyectado en cada reuni6n es un
retrato del pais; la mayor parte de las
preguntas formuladas por los concurrentes
versaron sobre cuestiones nacionales; y
hasta los discursos leidos por nuestros
emisarios, asi como el voluminoso informed
entregado a cada participate, se ocuparon
con mas extension del pais que de nuestros
impacts editoriales. Embajadores
improvisados, nos preciamos de haber
promovido a la Argentina con una seriedad y
una intensidad que, a menudo, nuestros
Gobiernos dejan de lado o ignoran.
Si damos a conocer estas actividades es
porque nada se oculta detrAs de ellas: no
fuimos a la caza de capitals, ni de acuerdos
lucrativos, ni de aventuras extraperiodisticas.
Fuimos a Nueva York--e iremos, en los meses
venideros, al resto del hemisferio, a Europa
y Asia--en busca de lo dnico a que podemos
aspirar: difundir la Argentina, sefalar la
existencia y el valor de nuestras

To underscore this international commitment, five weeks later
PP printed year-end holiday wishes in thirty languages on the
page normally reserved for the "Carta al lector." Beneath
the thirty expressions, strategically arranged to form a
Santa Claus with his typewriter, was a simple text: "He
aqui, en treinta idiomas, nuestros deseos de felices fiestas
para los lectores nacionales y extranjeros de Primera Plana"

(#313, 12-24-68).

In light of the prominence that PP had gained at both
the domestic and international levels, it should come as no
surprise that the magazine had critics and enemies. Anyone
familiar with Argentina's history of conflict, particularly
during the decade of the 1960s, may conjecture that PP's
participation in political debates was inevitable. As a
cosmopolitan, globe-trotting, boastful representative of a
rather elite strata of society, it offered an especially
inviting target for those occupying various positions in the
Argentine political spectrum. Moreover, despite all its
protestations to the contrary, PP did have certain
ideological affiliations and did take sides on important
political questions. Though the delineation of PP's
political tendencies is not a principal focus of this study,
a brief discussion of the issue is necessary.
The previously cited sixth-anniversary issue suggested
that PP had come under fire for alleged political sympathies.
It was widely suspected that the magazine was a mouthpiece
for a military faction--"los azules"--that proposed General
Juan Carlos Ongania as the savior of an Argentina that they
felt was crumbling under the inept administration of the
democratically-elected President Arturo Illia, of the Uni6n
Civica Radical. Any suspicions that the rumors of tension
between the Illia government and PP might be exaggerated were
erased by a late-1964 issue of the magazine. In the "Carta
al lector" (#108, 12-1-64), PP complained that the Ministry
of Foreign Relations had violated a recently signed agreement
concerning the plan to regularly send a packet of magazines
to Argentine embassies and consulates abroad. At the

ceremony to announce the formal initiation of the accord, PP
was disappointed to learn that its magazine, which "debi6 ser
colocada no s61o dentro del paquete atado con la cinta
celeste y blanca, [sino] al tope de ese paquete," had been
excluded. PP, indignant, lashed out at the government, whose
"actitud ejercia una nueva y sigilosa forma de la censura de
prensa, prohibida por la Constituci6n." In response, PP
declared that it would finance its own mailings to Argentine
embassies and consulates, and fired a parting shot: "la
situaci6n se vuelve mAs ridicule al pensar que, desde el 12
de octubre de 1963, el grupo gobernante lo hace por la
voluntad del 20 por ciento del electorado y la resignaci6n
del otro 80 por ciento." Clearly, the battle lines had been

Shortly thereafter, PP protested that one of its
photographers was ejected from the President's residence in
Olivos, that several government sources were denying them
information, and that state-controlled television channel 7
had denigrated the magazine on two occasions (#138, 6-29-65).
PP would continue to defend itself against accusations that
it was attacking the government in an effort to bring it
down. As talk of a coup increased, PP claimed it was not
"interesada en la defense de este gobierno ni alienta su
derrocamiento. Hace, pura y simplemente, un periodismo
critic a trav6s del examen y la valoraci6n de los hechos.
No es culpa de Primera Plana que los errors superen a los
aciertos (#167, 3-8-66). Three months later, a high
government official denounced PP for instigating rebellion
(#182, 6-21-66). PP once again proclaimed its innocence. By

this point, Illia's days were numbered, and exactly one week

later, June 28, 1966, General Ongania assumed power in a

military coup.

PP's defense of its criticism of President Illia's

administration rang hollow for contemporary and later

observers alike.12 The magazine's attacks were brutal. The

caricatures published by PP, some even appearing on the

cover, portrayed the President as an absent-minded buffoon

incapable of action. The sarcastic tone of political

articles had its counterpart in vicious jibes at Illia's

family, including his wife and daughter. Although PP was

not the only periodical critical of the Illia administration,

as the most influential newsmagazine of the period it

certainly did play a crucial role in preparing the way for

the military coup."

PP also had to deflect more generalized accusations with

regard to its political ideology. It was called, more than

once, an agent of North American imperialism. It was also

branded as a Communist dupe. The magazine expressed its

bemusement in this "Carta al lector" (#193, 9-6-66):

Desde su aparici6n, hace ya casi cuatro aflos,
se adjudic6 a Primera Plana la defense de
todas las ideologias y tendencies political

12 The previously cited article by Daniel H. Mazzei provides an
excellent examination of PP's role in fomenting the coup.
13 Ramiro de Casasbellas, in "Presumlamos de 'independientes',"
(Primera Plana: con la marca de los 60," Clarin, 29 de octubre de 1992,
Suplemento Cultural 6), would later lament that PP, despite its
admiration for journals such as Le Monde and the New York Times, forgot
to internalize the most important element of political journalism: "La
defense de las instituciones democrAticas." He added: "Por presumir de
'independientes,' acabamos por serlo del destino de nuestra sociedad y
ayudamos, como todas las publicaciones de la dpoca, al derrocamiento de
Illia. Cuando reaccionamos, al menos en Primera Plana, el general
usurpador que ocupaba la Casa Rosada cerr6 la revista. Tal vez hizo

de la Argentina. Una revista del frondicismo,
al promediar 1964, nos acus6 de apoyar a los
radicales del Pueblo; los radicales del Pueblo
nos tildaron de frondicistas, y terminaron
llevAndonos ante la Justicia por subversivos,
luego de intentar nuestro ahogo econ6mico
mediante una presi6n sobre los avisadores.
Los peronistas, inclusive en solicitadas,
opinaron que trabajabamos para la derecha; la
derecha nunca dej6 de pensar que respald&bamos
al peronismo. Dos meses atr&s, al prohibirse
las actividades political, respiramos
aliviados: al menos por un tiempo iban a
cesar las calificaciones. Pero en los altimos
quince dias, mientras un peri6dico
nacionalista nos integraba--junto con otras
tres publicaciones--en la "Aurea cadena
marxista", el denominado "6rgano official del
partido comunista" nos afiliaba a otra
dependencia: segdn su tesis, somos
instrument del imperialismo yanqui.

PP felt obligated to repeat that it was not a political
magazine. Its political was that of "hacer hincapid en la
Argentina, una repdblica adulta que no cesa de crecer y
elevarse, al margen de las banderias y las polm&icas."
An earlier attempt to avoid being politically
pigeonholed was apparently ignored by critics. Responding to
similar attributions, PP conducted its own internal vote
parallel to the one being held at the national level (#123,

A lo largo de casi dos afios y medio, a
PRIMERA PLANA le han adjudicado las m&s
opuestas tendencies political. Esa
vorAgine no podia sino despertar nuestra
curiosidad, no por la orientaci6n de la
revista, claro est&, pero si por la de
quienes la hacen. El miercoles pasado
hallamos un medio marginal para indagarla:
con todas las garantias de la Ley S&enz
Pefia convocamos un comicio interno: la
respuesta del personal dijo que aquellas
opuestas tendencies viven en los 44 hombres
y 7 mujeres inscriptos en el padr6n. Los
c6mputos de la elecci6n fueron significativos
y hablaron de una refiida puja: Uni6n Popular,

6 sufragios; UCRP, 6; Democracia Cristiana, 5;
Democracia Progresista, 5; MID, 4; UDELPA, 3;
Socialismo Argentino, 3: UCRI, 2; Dem6crata
Conservador, 2; Socialismo DemocrAtico, 2;
en blanco, 4; anulados, 1. Hubo 8 ausentes.

The additional irony was that PP would eventually be
shut down by the military government it had helped ascend to
power in 1966. Following an initial policy which could
perhaps be described as a mixture of "pro-government" and
"wait-and-see," PP's reporters and columnists adopted a tone
more consonant with the upheaval occurring throughout the
country. By 1968-1969 that tone had become openly critical.
In late 1968 (#309, 11-26-68), Mariano Grondona's political
column was replaced by the commentaries of PP staff members
Ramiro de Casasbellas and Julian Delgado. Casasbellas, in
particular, criticized various aspects of the military
government's performance. In suggestively titled essays--"La
mala educaci6n," "Escuchar al pueblo," "El tiempo perdido,"
for instance--he castigated the empty rhetoric and broken
promises of the so-called "Revoluci6n Argentina." He spoke
of a government out of touch with the people, "encerrado en
su misterio." Three years had been wasted, "tres anos en que
los argentinos se cansaron de ignorar ad6nde les conducia o
para qu4 se les reclamaba el sacrificio de las ideas, del
bienestar, de las ambiciones, de los suefos." The
government's intransigence was not only responsible for
recent violent popular uprisings, but also for the "ansia de
que se restituya el sistema quebrado en 1966" (#339, 6-24-
69). His final column before the closure, "La unidad del
ejercito" (#345, 8-5-69), coupled with PP's aggressive
political reporting, appeared to be the proverbial "straw

that broke the camel's back." Ominously, the vague reasons
given for PP's prohibition harked back to earlier days: the
Ministry of the Interior maintained that the magazine was
engaged in a "campana basada en informaciones inexactas,
destinada a crear un clima de confusion" (0-o, 8-12-69).
Defiant as ever, PP's directors responded with the
founding of 0-o. In the first, and only, "Carta al lector"
they emphasized the magazine's history of financial and
political independence. They announced they would appeal the
ban before the appropriate judicial authorities. In the
meantime, they would continue the dialogue with readers and
advertisers, pursuing "los mismos objetivos y las mismas
lines que han guiado esta editorial desde su creaci6n. Y
con la misma pasi6n por la Argentina, y con la misma
esperanza en su fant&stico future." Unfortunately, as
subsequent events would prove, the futures of PP and its
country were not to be "fant&stico."
The question of PP's political orientation is directly
related to a final element that cannot be overlooked in this
examination of the periodical's role in revolutionizing
Argentine journalistic practices. Even though it is true
that magazine personnel were unique individuals with
different political ideas, as the 1965 internal vote
demonstrated, there was a sense of collective enterprise that
permitted readers--friends and foes alike--to assume that PP
represented a certain political group. The magazine's
editors, perhaps unwittingly, encouraged such assumptions by
the constant use of the third person singular, Primera Plana,
and the first person plural, "nosotros." They made no secret

of the fact that their work was done collectively. For
Muy pocas veces, cada articulo publicado
en PRIMERA PLANA pertenece a un solo autor:
llega a la imprenta luego de un process de
elaboraci6n con el que se busca
perfeccionar la escritura, controlar los
datos incluidos, afinar el tono.
Es un process en el cual intervene, a menudo,
media docena de personas, desde el jefe de
redacci6n que
pone en march la nota hasta el hombre que
produce la version final. Hay quienes opinan
que asi s61o se consigue una sofocante
estandardizaci6n, que se enfrian el estilo y
los puntos de vista de cada periodista. Sin
embargo, entendemos que ese estilo y esos
puntos de vista no quedan sacrificados, se
complementan y mejoran, conducen a la armonia,
no a la uniformidad (#109, 12-8-64).

The same could be said for particular sections of the
magazine as well. Describing a year-end "Calendario"
offering, for instance, PP explained that "[m]&s de veinte
personas trabajaron en el Calendario de 1967, incluyendo
asesores y colaboradores especiales. Mas de seis intervienen
cada semana en la preparaci6n y selecci6n final de su
material" (#261, 12-26-67).
I have attempted to reflect PP's collective tendencies
just as they appear in the magazine itself. I have rarely
mentioned individual names of PP editors or writers. This is
in keeping with PP's practice of what we might refer to as
"collective signature." Although some pieces carried
individual by-lines, most were written anonymously. The
"Cartas al lector" were signed by "El Director," not by
Timerman, Dalle Nogare or Casasbellas. Responses to readers'
missives were very rarely attributed to an individual. Book
reviews infrequently included the reviewer's name, and in

cases where identity was revealed it often took the form of

initials only.14

The practice of collective authorship was the norm.
This engendered an identifiable "Primera Plana style." It
was not a large leap for readers to surmise that people who

worked so closely to craft a recognizable discourse would
also share certain political affinities and, consequently,
might speak with one political voice.
At the same time, PP demonstrated a great interest in
both the gathering and shaping of public opinion. In terms
of the former, the magazine made extensive use of public
opinion polls. PP spelled out its philosophy in 1964:
Hace tiempo que PRIMERA PLANA buscaba
anexar a su estructura uno de los m&s
indispensables servicios creados por la
tecnica modern: la encuesta. No hay
ya, casi, publicaciones responsables que
carezcan de esa fundamental ayuda; dos
timidos intentos, practicados por nuestra
redacci6n en julio y setiembre de 1963
para sondear la actitud er6tica de
argentinos y argentinas, terminaron de
convencernos de la necesidad de pasar de
lo provisional a lo stable.

The completion of President Illia's first year in office
offered the opportunity to achieve the desired pulse-
measuring stability. Rather than put the poll in the hands
of an outside organization, PP decided to create its own
"Departamento de Encuestas." Its initial task would be to
"auscultar la opini6n de la clase media de Buenos Aires

"' The historical consequences of this modus operandi are fascinating.
Asked today to identify articles that they "anonymously" wrote or to
recognize their own individual style in a specific piece, former PP
journalists are, in some cases, unable to do so. With regard to the
"Libros" section, Tomas Eloy Martinez admitted that he found himself in
this predicament (telephone interview, 12 December 1994).

respect de los doce meses de la administraci6n Illia."'"

Following this initial experiment, the magazine would

conduct, and prominently feature the results of, public

opinion polls on a wide array of subjects during the coming


PP, as should be clear from many of the already-cited

"Cartas al lector," had an interest in helping to shape

Argentine public opinion. The content and tone of these

letters, though not "editorials" in the traditional sense,

evidenced a clear desire to influence national debates.

Moreover, the sheer repetition of certain key themes was more

than just a coincidence. Finally, the selection of the poll

topics in itself indicated an effort to stake out the

parameters of debate.

PP was, without a doubt, a pioneer. Just as students of

Argentine literature often speak of a period "antes de

Cortazar" and another "despues de Cortazar" to underline the

significance of this writer in the nation's literary history,

so too should students of Argentine journalism think in terms

of "antes de Primera Plana" and "despues de Primera Plana."

These same students would be hard pressed to offer a better

15 Once again, caution should be exercised in taking at face value a
statement which, at first glance, appears rather innocuous. Given PP's
antagonism towards the Illia administration, it is logical to assume
that this particular survey had ulterior motives. According to Mazzei,
PP had an interest in perpetuating the notion of the "irreversibilidad
del golpe de Estado. Para crear esta imagen se sobredimensionaron
conflicts y se pusieron en foco sucesos que, de otra manera, habrian
pasado inadvertidos. Primera Plana funcionaba tambidn como amplificador
de rumores--a veces disparatados--sobre la inestabilidad del gobierno,
cuya funcidn era general la sensacidn que Oste se encontraba en un
callej6n sin salida" (29). Critics of PP, then, were not inclined to
believe the magazine's profession of objectivity in the design of the
questions nor in the tabulation of the results. Some even insinuated
that conspiring military officials produced the surveys.

summary of the magazine's style, braggadocio, guiding
principles, contradictions--in a word, PP's impact--than the

"Carta al lector" written to commemorate five years of

publication (#255, 11-14-67). Its four paragraphs deserve to
be reproduced in their entirety:

Hace cinco afos, el martes 13 de noviembre
de 1962, se abria en la Argentina una nueva
era periodistica: la era de las revistas
semanales de noticias. Ese acontecimiento--
que iba a revolucionar uno de los
mercados lectores m&s adults y exigentes del
mundo--coincidi6 con la aparici6n del ndmero
uno de Primera Plana; y, tambi4n, con la
avidez de un publico deseoso de informaciones
certeras e incisivas, despojadas de falsa
solemnidad o sensiblera demagogia, al margen
de ideologias y credos.
Que el pdblico ansiaba esta respuesta a sus
inquietudes no s61o lo demuestra el hecho
de que Primera Plana celebra su quinto
aniversario, a la vanguardia siempre de las
publicaciones de su genero. Hay, por lo menos,
otras tres evidencias: la docena de titulos
que, durante el ultimo lustro, se afiliaron--
de distinto modo--al estilo y las f6rmulas
ejercidas desde nuestras columns; el creciente
apoyo publicitario, capaz de hallar su simbolo
en esta edici6n 255; y la certidumbre de que el
soplo renovador alcanz6, inclusive, las several
pAginas de los grandes diarios.
Enumerar todo cuanto Primera Plana aport6 al
periodismo national, en ideas e iniciativas,
seria pecado de soberbia. Mas sensato parece
recorder, en moment tan especial, sus bases
de trabajo: una absolute libertad de
expresi6n. Primera Plana no ha recibido--no
podria recibir nunca--la ayuda esbozada de
las arcas gubernamentales, ni depend de
partidos politicos, grupos de presi6n,
monopolies financieros. Sus fondos estAn
a la vista: el product de la venta de
ejemplares y la contrataci6n de avisos.
Sus objetivos son conocidos y caben en tres
palabras: servir al pais.
No es fAcil, pese a todo, perseverar en
este camino. Es, en cambio, tarea
fructifera, una maravillosa aventura de la
comunicaci6n contemporAnea. Para nosotros
comenz6 con aquella tapa de John Kennedy,

media d4cada atras; recorrer ese ndmero uno
depara recuerdos, sorpresas y reiteraciones:
porque en su edici6n inaugural, Primera
Plana anunciaba el nacimiento del
"happening", el derrumbe de la monarquia
yemenita, el fracaso de la Misi6n Peia
que volvia de negociar ante el Club de
Paris, la trascendencia del Concilio
Ecumenico, la proximidad de una
conspiraci6n military contra el Gobierno
Guido. Uno de los articulos principles se
preguntaba sobre la neurosis de los
argentinos; hoy, porque siempre deseamos
mirar adelante, ofrecemos los resultados de
la investigaci6n que mayor esfuerzo y
tiempo demand a nuestros redactores:
trata sobre la Argentina del 2067, un afo
en que--confiamos--Primera Plana seguirA
en la calle.

It is doubtful that PP will be on the street in the
Argentina of 2067--although, given the phoenix-like history
of the magazine, it would be premature to discount the
possibility of another revival, perhaps in the 100th
anniversary year, 2062. Nonetheless, its legacy lives on in
contemporary Argentine cultural debates. The magazine's
literary coverage, for example, contributed to a
reexamination of literary canons and the valorization of
writers who are still subjects of contention within the
literary field. It is to this issue of literature in Primera
Plana that we now turn.


Literary Setting
The Argentina that witnessed the birth of PP in 1962
was, as we have seen, a society in the midst of significant
change. Instigators of renovation, rebellion and revolution
were competing with more conservative individuals and
institutions possessing a vested interest in the preservation
of tradition and the status quo. This was especially evident
in the cultural arena; literature, for example, found itself
on the verge of a major transformation. To understand the
changes it was about to undergo, we must take a short
historical detour and examine events of the previous several

While it would be tempting to go even further back, a
historical overview necessary to understand the 1960s in
Argentina really begins shortly after the country's
centennial celebration in 1910. A rural nation dominated by
a native oligarchy was rapidly becoming an urban society in
which the middle class was making tremendous gains. Members
of prestigious families in Buenos Aires found it hard to
recognize "their" city. Once fondly referred to as "the large
village" ("la gran aldea"), this new Buenos Aires had been
"invaded" by foreigners, who constituted some 50 percent of
the city's population. Many of the old elite were also
alarmed by the ascension to political power of Hip61lito
Yrigoyen, elected to the Presidency in 1916 and 1928 by

middle class voters who swelled the ranks of a new political
party, the Uni6n Civica Radical (UCR).
The influence of these middle-class upstarts was not
restricted to politics. The literary and cultural fields,
until then presided over by a small group of the upper class,
came to be more accessible to other strata of Argentine
society. The pool of both producers and consumers of
cultural objects broadened thanks to economic growth and
educational advances. These developments fostered a new
journalism directed at a wider audience, expansion of the
publishing industry, and the creation of literary journals
which gave greater voice to polemicists of various
persuasions. The most famous polemic of the 1920s--and one
which, to a certain degree, would remain as a point of
reference for all following generations--was that which
pitted the writers of "Florida" against those of "Boedo" (two
streets in Buenos Aires). The two writers who best exhibited
this split were, respectively, Jorge Luis Borges and Roberto
Arlt. These figures would continue to serve as focal points
of two basic tendencies of Argentine narrative: experimental
and imaginative (Borges-Florida), realist and testimonial

Not all writers of the period subscribed to the
vanguardist models proposed by the young writers of Florida
and Boedo. Many who were already established (Manuel GAlvez,
Enrique Larreta, Ricardo Rojas, etc.) contributed to a
magazine called Nosotros. Founded in 1907, Nosotros
constituted "la column vertebral del movimiento intellectual
argentino" until its demise in 1934 (it would subsequently

have a second period, 1936-1943).' A mixture of literary
inclinations could be found in this journal.

Another Argentine cultural institution was Sur. Founded
in 1931 by Victoria Ocampo, the journal was published until
1970. Its position of power in the cultural field was such
that "all other forms of cultural expression [could] be
defined by their adherence to, or disagreement with, its
central premises."' But, unlike Nosotros, which was an open
tribune, Ocampo's magazine was limited to a small group of
Argentine writers and an equally small coterie of celebrated
foreigners--primarily from Europe and the United States.
Sur, then, was the reference point for intellectual,
cultural and literary debate from the 1930s through the
1960s. Its orientation owed much to the multi-disciplinary,
universalist approach which characterized Jos4 Ortega y
Gasset's Revista de Occidente. The influence of this Spanish
thinker in Argentina was indisputable. Orteguian ideas--
particularly his antipathy toward mass culture and his belief
in the need for a spiritual and apolitical elite-- colored
the pages of Sur. Ocampo's journal found its inspiration in
Europe, in "universal" culture. It paid relatively little
attention to Latin America and excluded many Argentine
writers. Roberto Arlt, for example, never appeared in Sur.
Those who collaborated in Sur viewed themselves as a
"civilizing" minority in the midst of a chaos which
manifested itself on two axes: international and domestic,
social and cultural.

Hector Ren6 Lafleur, Sergio Provenzano and Fernando P. Alonso, Las
revistas literarias argentinas, 1893-1967 (Buenos Aires: Centro Editor
de Amdrica Latina, 1968) 151.
2 King, Sur 2.

Disputes in the Argentine cultural and literary field
began to take on a much more divisive tone with the outbreak
of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). Disagreement among
adherents of Florida and Boedo, though serious, had tended to
occur in a certain "family atmosphere." Members of both
groups were linked by close personal ties, and they
socialized and debated in the same circles. The war in Spain
poisoned this environment; writers found themselves obligated
to take sides. Sur, for example, supported those in favor of
the Republic. The Catholic magazine, Criterio, for its part,
declared that those affiliated with Sur were "Communist

At the same time, ideological debates over the questions
of Argentina and "Argentineness" ("argentinidad") began to
heat up. Nationalists of the revisionist school questioned
the historical duality, canonized in textbooks, between
Domingo F. Sarmiento ("civilization") and Juan Manuel de
Rosas ("barbarism"). They revived the figure of the dictator
Rosas as a symbol of the "real" Argentina, of order, and of
anti-liberalism. According to the nationalists, the liberals
had handed over the country to British imperialism and had
fomented disorder with their egalitarian ideas. It was not
surprising that Sur, mouthpiece par excellence of liberal
values, was the preferred target of nationalist
This contentious politico-historical debate had literary
ramifications as well. On one side were the universalistss,"
who looked to Europe for literary models; on the other were
those who called for more autochthonous works. This

question, of course, was inextricably linked to the
previously mentioned experimental and realist tendencies of
Argentine literature. It also included discussions of two
prominent issues of the day, namely, the supposed "decadence"
of the novel and the "use" of literature. Borges, for
example, repeatedly disparaged the novel and the "realistic
fidelity" of its crafters. In his view, "good" literature
consisted of invention, image and verbal artifice.
The traditional (realist) novel was also criticized,
less acerbically, by other observers. These critics did not
reject the usefulness of the social novel nor the importance
of verosimilitude, but they did call for technical
renovation. The tone of the debate was captured well in the
title of a 1945 collection of essays by Hector P. Agosti,
Defense del realismo.
As the space for experimentation expanded, novelists
began to compose texts that combined traditional and
innovative techniques. Jorge B. Rivera, in an analysis of
the period 1930-1955, has identified four novelistic
tendencies: (1) "realist" (or "neorealist"); (2) "narrative
of ambiguity"; (3) "archetypal"; and (4) "conceptualist."3
Though it is always risky to attempt broad categorization,
these distinctions do serve to delineate the Argentine
literary field of the period in question.

Rivera's "realists" dealt with both rural and urban
themes. A "new urban vision" was exemplified in the novels
of, among others, Bernardo Kordon, Bernardo Verbitsky and

3 Jorge B. Rivera, "Panorama de la novela argentina: 1930-1955,"
Capitulo: Historia de la literature argentina (Buenos Aires: Centro
Editor de America Latina, 1982) 320.

Roger Pl&. These authors made use of some variations on the
traditional realist novel: first-person narration (instead
of third); an open and fragmented rather than closed text
that required more participation from the reader; and deeper
psychological penetration. The "new regional novel," on the
other hand, had proponents such as Max Dickmann and Alfredo
Varela. Unlike the traditional regionalist novel (e.g., Don
Sequndo Sombra, Doha Barbara, La vor&qine), their works
tended to be less celebratory and not so decidedly fatalist.
Their characters were also less "archetypical." In other
words, they were individuals more specifically portrayed in
light of certain historical and personal circumstances.

The second novelistic tendency of this period was that
of "ambiguity." Rivera identifies Jos4 Bianco, Norah Lange
and Estela Canto as important exponents of this technique.'
These authors worked especially with language and point of
view. That is to say, they played with fallacy (of
language), mistakes and subterfuges, perspective,
structure/organization, lineality, causality, and the like.

We have already seen, in Borges, some traits of the
third, "archetypal" tendency among writers. Sur was the
nucleus of this small group: Adolfo Bioy Casares, Manuel
Peyrou, Enrique Anderson Imbert, Silvina Ocampo. The works
of these authors were quite coherent in terms of a shared
vision of the world, similar technical procedures, and common
thematic areas. Like the magazine itself, their novels and
stories were directed to a small audience capable of

SBianco was an important editor at Sur beginning in 1938.

understanding clever literary games designed to stimulate the
reader's intellect.

Another writer with ties to Sur, Eduardo Mallea,
represented the fourth novelistic tendency: conceptualistt."
Mallea was the undisputed star of the Argentine literary
field in the 1930s and 1940s (in addition to serving as
director of La Naci6n's literary supplement between 1931 and
1955). His prodigious work appeared to be an effort to
develop certain philosophical and ideological theses: for
example, his constant inquiry into the make-up of an
Argentina that was both "visible" and "invisible." Leopoldo
Marechal and Ernesto SAbato also figured among the
conceptualistt" authors because their masterpieces were much
more than mere narratives. They elaborated lengthy texts
dealing with a myriad of social, philosophical and
metaphysical questions. The extension and complexity of
their works led to a multiplicity of meanings and functions.
It is important to point out that the quarter of a
century examined by Rivera was characterized by the
coexistence of three generations of Argentine writers and,
most importantly, by the birth of Peronism. The tremors
caused by the initial government of Juan D. Per6n (1946-1955)
were immediately felt in the cultural and literary fields,
and the theme of Peronism would be a constant literary
preoccupation throughout the 1960s. Furthermore, the
"Peronist dilemma" was very important in generational terms
because it exercised considerable influence on the literary
responses formulated by Argentine writers of all ages. On
the one hand, the "old guard" continued to publish, but its

works began to lose popularity and relevance. On the other,
those in the so-called "Generation of (19)40" were maturing

during the height of Peronism. Finally, those who would

constitute the succeeding "Generation of (19)55" were

starting to publish their first texts.

At the risk of simplification, one could say that the
intermediate Generation of 40 continued along the lines
established by Boedo and Florida.' One group, more socially-

oriented and polemical, included S&bato, Verbitsky and Pla.
The other, more imaginative and concerned with a more
polished style, included Bioy Casares,'Manuel Mujica Lainez
and Julio CortAzar. In broad terms, Bioy, Mujica Lainez and
CortAzar were anti-Peronists. Sabato, in contrast, had a
more nuanced perspective that eventually manifested itself in
a polemic with colleagues at Sur (1956-1957) and which led
him to distance himself from the group.

If the "old guard" and the "Generation of 40" had to
adapt themselves and respond to a Peronist phenomenon that
appeared during their mature years, the young members of the
"Generation of 55" lived and experienced Peronism during the

crucial years of personal and intellectual formation. The
Uruguayan critic Emir Rodriguez Monegal branded them as
parricidess" for their generally negative appraisal of
Argentina's literary past.' Angela Dellapiane labeled them
"the angry ones," because they felt contempt for the
aestheticism, emptiness and rhetoric of their literary

5 Arturo Berenger Carisomo, Literatura arqentina (Barcelona:
Editorial Labor, 1970) 86-87. Berenger Carisomo cites and utilizes the
scheme developed by another Argentine literary critic, Luis Gregorich.
6 Emir Rodriguez Monegal, El juicio de los parricidas: la nueva
generaci6n argentina y sus maestros (Buenos Aires: Deucali6n, 1956).

elders.7 They reread many of the texts produced by their

forerunners and dictated their sentences in small journals,

the most important of which was Contorno (1953-1959).'

It was natural that the parricidess" published their
negative judgments in these magazines because such a radical
revision of literary history could not be carried out in the
pages of Sur, or in the literary supplements of La Naci6n or
La Prensa, the agents of tradition and consecration. Members

of this "Generation of 55" included, among others, David
Viias, Beatriz Guido, Andr4s Rivera, Juan Jos6 Manauta,

Alberto Rodriguez, Pedro Orgambide, H4ctor A. Murena, Julio
Ardiles Gray, Antonio Di Benedetto and Marco Denevi. They
did not, naturally, speak with one voice. Of the ten listed
above the first six might be considered purveyors of a more

"committed" literature, while the last four forged works in a
more experimental vein.
In any case, as the decade of the 1960s approached, it
was increasingly clear that what had previously passed for
"accepted wisdom" was being challenged by young cultural

critics. Sur, the standard bearer for some thirty years of
liberalism and traditional aesthetics, saw its prestige begin
to erode. Interestingly enough, the Peronists, despite their
nearly ten-year hold on the reins of government and their

insistence that liberalism was obsolete, had not seized the
opportunity to offer a strong cultural alternative. There
were many pro-Peronist writers and some efforts to

7 Angela Delliapiane, "La novela argentina desde 1950 a 1965,"
Revista Iberoamericana 66 (julio-diciembre) 239.
a For a more detailed study of this journal, see William H. Katra,
Contorno: Literary Engagement in Post-Peronist Argentina (Rutherford,
NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson UP, 1988).

"construirse un recinto de prestigio propio"'--the magazine
Sexto Continente, the creation of the Asociaci6n de
Escritores Argentinos (ADEA) to rival the anti-Peronist
Sociedad Argentina de Escritores (SADE), etc.--but they were


PP arrived on the scene in this context. Its staff was
composed largely of young Argentines--most were in their
early 30s--with a new vision for the country. Those
responsible for the cultural sections of the magazine were
particularly eager to challenge conventional views of
artistic production and value. While they did maintain a
great deal of respect for Sur's contribution, they were
interested in staking out their own position in the Argentine
literary field and reporting on trends that Sur appeared
unable to comprehend."1 For example, it was no coincidence
that the very first article PP devoted to a literary topic,

"Cuando la moda literaria coincide con un aporte cultural
positive" (#2, 11-20-62), described the unprecedented success
of a popular edition of the Argentine classic, Martin Fierro.
Published by Editorial Universitaria de Buenos Aires

(EUDEBA), it established a new Argentine sales record:
50,000 copies in twenty five days. PP explained the moderna

concepci6n empresaria" that inspired the project and
highlighted the conservative streak which led bookstore
owners to resist new sales tactics aimed at reaching the
broadest possible audience. They chastised these agents of

9 Andrds Avellaneda, El habla de la ideologia (Buenos Aires:
Sudamericana, 1983) 18.
10 The extent of PP's admiration for the role played by Victoria
Ocampo is clear in a 1966 cover story, "Victoria Ocampo: ZCuanto le
debe la cultural argentina?" (#168, 3-15-66). We shall examine this in
more detail below.

tradition for not recognizing that by accepting a smaller
profit margin, they would be "contribuyendo a crear un hAbito
[reading] que, a la larga, iba a beneficiarlos con creces."

In the same article PP included an observation that
would prove to be prescient. So many copies of Martin Fierro
had been sold that "llevar descuidadamente un ejemplar bajo

el brazo se ha convertido en contraseia de intelectuales,
sobre todo en el radio estudiantil cercano a Filosofia y
Letras y las principles salas de exposiciones (C6rdoba-
Tucum&n-Reconquista)." Only two years later the same
phenomenon would occur around the figure of Julio Cortazar.
Traditionalists reacted in exasperation. Their surprise was
neatly summarized in the words of Victoria Ocampo: .
hecho ins61ito, el vulgo compra las obras de Cortazar (tan
luego Cortazar) y se pasea con sus libros en Torino o en
subte o en colectivo. Sin embargo, Cort&zar es netamente un
autor para minorias."11
In sum, serious changes were taking place in the
literary world, and PP reported on these significant events.
More importantly, the magazine actively promoted the
purveyors of change. The case of Cortazar furnished the
perfect example. While Victoria Ocampo could not understand
all the fuss, and like-minded critics were lamenting the
"new" Cort&zar, PP adopted this Argentine living in Paris as
the standard bearer of the spirit of the times and celebrated
the appearance of his works as cultural events of the utmost
magnitude. Why was Julio Cortazar so important in the eyes

Victoria Ocampo, "Despu6s de cuarenta aflos," Sur 325 (julio-agosto
de 1970) 1. Cited in King, Sur 170. King adds: "Primera Plana
reflected and directed the taste of this 'vulgo' in the sixties" (170).

of the young critics at PP? The answer will become clear in
the following analysis of the magazine's section devoted to

General Characteristics of the Section

In the previously cited "Carta al lector" (#107,
11-24-64), PP proudly proclaimed its success in establishing
a permanent bibliographic section. By this time, they had
indeed made significant strides, and could boast of two
recent cover stories devoted to literary figures: Jorge Luis
Borges (#94, 8-25-64) and Julio Cort&zar (#103, 10-27-64).
Nevertheless, the number of book reviews/articles in the
"Libros" section still oscillated between two and four.
Thus, while PP had certainly revolutionized the coverage of
literature in a mass-circulation magazine, the most
impressive expansion of the section was not to come until the
final third of the decade. Table 1 illustrates this growth.
We may also demonstrate the evolution of bibliographical
coverage which occurred between 1962 and 1969 by examining
representative examples of the "Libros" section in four
different issues. In #11 (1-22-63), there were reviews of
two books: Homo Faber (Max Frisch), and Daniel de regreso
(Isidro Pdrez Abad). The aforementioned #107 (11-24-64)
featured reviews of Leonardo da Vinci (Marcel Brion), Un loto
para Miss Quon (James Hadley Chase), Los muchos que no viven
(Alberto Vanasco), and Vida inquieta (Carl Sandburg). PP's
issue #232 (6-6-67) included an article on Jean Genet ("El
unicornio y sus espejos"), a "Texto" ("Che, Libertad," by

Table 1

Average Number of Book Reviews/Articles in "Libros"
Section, #1 (11-13-62) OJO (8-12-69)

Year Total Number of Issues Average per Issue*

1962 2 7 0.30#
1963 162 53 3.05
1964 174 52 3.35
1965 156 52 3.00
1966 145 45 3.20
1967 264 52 5.10
1968 314 53 5.90
1969 214 32 6.70

Total 1431 346 4.15

*Includes "Literatura" and "Biblioteca" sidebars, as
well as "Anticipaciones" and "Textos."
#Rounded off to the nearest .05.

Beatriz Guido), and four reviews: Marti, el h&roe y su
acci6n revolucionaria (Ezequiel Martinez Estrada), Con otra
gente (Haroldo Conti), Hotel pAiaro (Enrique Molina), and La
realidad y los papeles (C4sar Fernandez Moreno). Finally, in
#341 (7-8-69)--about one month prior to the magazine's forced
closure--"Libros" included Jorge Romero Brest's "Texto"
("ZEstA realmente muerta la pintura?"), articles on Claude
Levi-Strauss ("El padre del estructuralismo") and Corin
Tellado ("Pornografia inocente"), and five reviews: Primeras
histories (Jo&o Guimar&es Rosa), La conspiraci6n (Paul
Nizan), Fabulario (Eduardo Gudifo Kieffer), La aventura de un
pobre cristiano (Ignazio Silone), and Fuera del juego
(Heberto Padilla).

These four examples demonstrate another noteworthy
feature of PP's "Libros" section, namely, its highly

cosmopolitan content. The magazine commented on books

dealing with a very wide spectrum of topics and, at the same

time, featured authors from numerous countries." This was

not surprising, since, according to a French observer, Louis

Pauwels, "Los argentinos poseen como nadie el sentido de la

aventura. Viven en una especie de Far-West intellectual, con

los ojos y los oidos abiertos a todas las transformaciones

del mundo."'3 However, as we have already seen, this

cosmopolitanism was balanced by considerable attention to

national thinkers and artists. The extent to which PP

covered authors and subjects from all parts of the globe

becomes clear in Table 2.

Closer analysis of the data in Table 2 reveals some very
interesting trends. Perhaps the most noteworthy is the

significant increase in the coverage of Latin American

authors/subjects. Prior to the mid-1960s, Argentine society,

in general, and the nation's intellectuals, in particular,

had always looked to Europe (and North America to a lesser

extent) for wisdom, knowledge and inspiration. Figures for

12 See Appendix B for a full listing of titles and authors.
13 "Buenos Aires tendr& su edici6n propia de planete," (#65, 2-4-65).
Planete was a prestigious French bimonthly magazine which PP repeatedly
mentioned in early issues. Buenos Aires was, in fact, the first city
outside of Paris which had its own edition of Planete, and the reception
was impressive. In a subsequent "Carta al lector" (#98, 9-22-64), PP
informed its readers "La semana pasada se lanz6 en Buenos Aires la
edici6n en espafol de [Planete], regalo que Italia, Gran Bretafa y los
Estados Unidos esperan hace tiempo El hecho de que los 12.000
ejemaplares tirados fueran absorbidos en un dia por las librerias y
quioscos de la ciudad y el interior habla de algo mas que una moda

the years 1963 and 1964 reveal a European/North American
orientation that virtually ignores Latin America.1

Table 2

Nationality of Authors/Subjects in "Libros" Section,
#1 (11-13-62) OJO (8-12-69)

Year Total Argentine Other European/
Number (%) Latin North
of American American
Authors/ (%) (%)

1962 2 1 (50%) 0 (0%) 1 (50%)
1963 162 65 (40%) 5 (3%) 92 (57%)^
1964 174 75 (43%) 5 (3%) 94 (54%)
1965 156 62 (40%) 16 (10%) 78 (50%)
1966 145 48 (33%) 23 (16%) 73 (50%)#
1967 264 116 (44%) 44 (17%) 104 (39%)@
1968 314 129 (42%) 49 (16%) 134 (42%)&
1969 214 73 (35%) 35 (16%) 105 (49%)$

Total 1431 569 (40%) 177 (12%) 681 (48%)

*Compilation of this section raised some dilemmas
with respect to categorization. For example, what to do
with a book on (North) American poets written by an
Argentine author? Or, a Peruvian bookseller/publisher in
Buenos Aires? Or, Argentine writers at a literary
conference in Germany? The rule of thumb adopted, as a
result, was to consider the nationality of the author
whenever possible, and failing that, the nationality of
the individuals) featured as the central subjects) of
the article. It should also be noted that the category
"European/North American" includes Australian, Canadian
and South African authors (only four reviews).
^All percentages rounded off to nearest .5.
#In 1966 there was one review of a Japanese author,
Junichiro Tanizaki.
@Includes "Literatura" sidebar and "Textos."
&Includes "Biblioteca" sidebar and "Textos."
$In 1969 there was one review of a Japanese author,
Yasunari Kawabata.

'4 1962 is statistically irrelevant, due to the fact that there are
only two entries.

Figures for 1965-1969, on the other hand, show that
Argentine intellectuals were becoming more aware of their
condition as "Latin Americans"; they had started to realize
that thinkers from these other countries had much to offer to
the political, economic and cultural debates of the epoch.
More importantly, they were becoming convinced that Argentine
and Latin American artistic creation had reached a level of
originality, maturity and sophistication comparable to that
of the "developed" countries. PP's "Libros" section
reflected this new consciousness, especially during 1967 and
1968. Reviews/articles devoted to Argentine and Latin
American authors/subjects constituted 61 percent and 58
percent of the total. This broke with the traditional
pattern in which one half (or more) of total coverage was
dedicated to Europeans and North Americans.

Nevertheless, it is interesting to note that, with the
exception of these two years, the percentage of
reviews/articles dedicated to Europeans and North Americans
always remained at or above 50 percent. By 1969, for
example, coverage of Europe/North America had risen again to
49 percent." Also, it appears that in some cases, increased
attention to other Latin American authors actually occurred
at the expense of Argentine authors, not their European and
North American counterparts. For instance, Argentine authors
had generally received at least 40 percent of total coverage.
However, in 1966 and 1969, this coverage dipped to 33 percent
and 35 percent, respectively.

15 The European/North American predominance would become even more
pronounced in subsequent issues of Periscopio and the reincarnated PP.

Another trend evident in Table 2 is the consistent
distribution of space devoted to authors/subjects from
various continents. The eight-year totals provide an average
which the reader was likely to find in the "Libros" section
of most issues of PP during the heyday period of 1965-1969:
40%, Argentine; 12%, other Latin American; 48%,
European/North American. Curiously, despite this relative
consistency, there was evidently no conscious decision to
devote a certain number of reviews/articles to authors of
different nationalities."6 In any case, the eight-year
averages illustrate three intriguing trends: (1) despite the
fact that PP was an Argentine magazine, coverage of national
authors always remained around forty per cent; (2) other
Latin American authors (and their literature) finally
received increased, and long overdue, exposure in Argentina;
(3) the tendency to privilege European/North American thought
and artistic creation, though slightly challenged in 1967-
1968, did not diminish to any considerable degree.
The decision to select one author or topic as opposed to
another, of course, does not depend solely on country of
origin. As I have already argued, a variety of literary and
extra-literary factors come into play. One of the most
important "extraneous" factors is the question of who
publishes the work. In other words, the previous discussions
concerning the number of book reviews/articles and their
distribution in terms of nationality are incomplete without
an examination of the role of publishers in the "Libros"

Tomas Eloy Martlnez, telephone interview, 12 December 1994.

As we have already seen, PP believed that the high
quality of its "Libros" section accounted for its success at
enticing Argentine publishers to advertise in the magazine.
Of course, that was only part of the story. In fact, PP made
an obvious and sustained effort to promote the Argentine
publishing industry. It was a campaign that combined
cultural and commercial considerations, and one which
promised positive results to all involved.
PP's concern for the healthy development of the national
publishing industry was evident from the start. Though the
"Libros" section was not inaugurated until issue #8, PP's
second issue included a lengthy article, "Cuando la moda
literaria coincide con un aporte cultural positive" (#2,
11-20-62), on the incredible sales of the new edition of
Martin Fierro, illustrated by Juan Carlos Castagnino, and
published by EUDEBA. As mentioned above, its initial print
run of 50,000 copies sold out in twenty-five days, and plans
called for a second printing of 70,000. Naturally, this
phenomenon was the talk of the publishing community; critical
voices attributed success to a "secret subsidy" from the
university and/or from "leftist" ideologues friendly to
EUDEBA's head, Boris Spivacow. The article itself maintained
a neutral stance; however, PP could not hide its admiration
for Spivacow's audacity and its support of the principles
guiding the project: producerr un tipo de libro de arte
accessible al gran pdblico, por su precio" y la t4cnica de
distribuci6n [y] hacer del libro un product de primera
necesidad." They shared Spivacow's moderna concepci6n

17 The book sold for 100 pesos. By way of comparison, a single issue
of PP cost 30 pesos at this time.

empresaria hasta ahora no aplicada a producer libros en la
Argentina," and portrayed recalcitrant booksellers in a

negative fashion:

veian mal que EUDEBA vendiera en
puestos callejeros, en quioscos dentro de
las facultades y mediante corredores propios.
Refunfunaban cuando la editorial les
obligaba a pagarle al contado y a retener
s61o un 20 por ciento de ganancia. No
compartian la teoria de que con semejante
sacrificio estaban contribuyendo a crear un
hAbito que, a la larga, iba a beneficiarlos
con creces. En una libreria centrica que es
tambi4n editorial, el duefio se enoj6 con un
empleado "porque llenaba la vidriera con
products de EUDEBA." Dicen que el
dependiente replica: "ZY qu6 quiere? ZQue
exhibamos 6stos, que no salen? Hoy vendi
100 libros de EUDEBA y ganamos 2.000 pesos."
El argument era poderoso."'

PP contrasted these cautious booksellers with innovators
like Luis Bergonzelli and Buenaventura Bueno, owners of

Libreria Latina, "Una libreria con much vida social" (#56,
12-3-63). They were described as being interested in making
customers feel comfortable in the bookstore, as comfortable

as if they were in their own home or library. With the help
of the writer Alberto Vanasco, Bergonzelli and Bueno planned
informal "tertulias," academic and literary debates, poetry
readings, book signing parties, jam sessions, and concerts.
The results were impressive: "Esta intense actividad gener6
un inhabitual movimiento de pdblico. Sus responsables dicen

'* PP would later inform its readers about Juan Mejia Baca, "El editor
que cambi6 la imagen del Peru" (#86, 6-30-64). In 1956, in Peru, Baca
managed to sell 50,000 copies of Martin Fierro in eight weeks. He was
currently involved in a revolutionary experiment to sell Luis E.
Valcarcel's Historia del Perl antique a trav4s de la fuente escrita. He
had already convinced 1,850 readers to pre-pay for the soon-to-be-
published text.

que de cada diez personas que entran en la libreria, ocho o
nueve compran libros."
"Recargos, nubarrones y amenaza de emigraci6n en el

negocio editorial" (#16, 2-26-63), painted a bleaker

picture. PP detailed the grave problems confronting the

Argentine publishing industry: contradictory government tax

policy, the high cost of paper, poor transportation, etc.

The situation was so precarious that they felt compelled to

ask Jorge L6pez Llovet of Sudamericana if publishers would

actually leave the country. He replied: "Bueno...estamos

arraigados. Pero si las cosas no cambian, si seguimos con el

papel gravado entonces imprimiriamos afuera. Hay

various que ya comienzan a hacerlo. El nfmero podria
aumentar: El mundo se ha reducido mucho" As we shall see
below, this pessimism was short-lived.
PP continued to focus on successful publishing ventures.
They followed up the initial EUDEBA story with another in
issue #20 (3-26-63) that described the expansion of their
Siglo y Medio series. EUDEBA planned to publish fifty more
books by Argentine authors--including, among others, Galvez,
Lynch, Borges, Booz, DAvalos, Escard6, and Payr6--at the low
price of twenty pesos per copy, or seventy pesos for packages
of four titles.
Publishers' efforts outside of Argentina did not go
unnoticed. PP marvelled at the success of a Danish publisher
in France, Sven Nielsen, who sold 110,000 copies in six
months of Historia paralela de la URSS y los Estados Unidos.
It was more than just the publication of a book; it was a

whole project aimed at launching "un product al mercado y no

se descuid6 un solo detalle" (#23, 4-16-63).

Frequent early attention to innovative ways to sell
books was not merely a way to fill the pages of PP. It fit

well with the magazine's drive to modernize Argentina.

Getting people to read helped the nation's cultural

modernization, while a modern economy exported a diverse

assortment of finished products. In other words, as a PP

headline put it: "Tambien los libros pueden traer divisas"

(#27, 5-14-63). In this article Federico L. Carman, head of

"La Espaiola," Miami's most important Spanish-language
bookstore, lamented: "LAstima que ustedes, los argentinos,

tengan tan mal organizada la promoci6n de ventas al

exterior." This was considered a shame because, as another

article, "La esperanza de volver a las cifras de 1940" (#64,

1-28-64), pointed out, there had been a time not long before

when "los libros y revistas argentinos se lean con avidez en
todos los mercados de habla castellana."1"

According to PP, there was another poorly functioning
aspect of Argentine culture which a truly modern nation would

not tolerate: the National Library. "220.000 personas sin

libros durante un afo" (#42, 8-27-63) described a near-

accident when a reader "vio caer a su lado, desde 26 metros

1" PP was pleased to report in issue #255 ("A la conquista de Amedrica
Central," 11-20-67) that Argentine book exporters were making inroads in
foreign markets. A Costa Rican newspaper was purported to have warned
its readers of "una invasion cultural argentina." Argentine
exporters had seen that US and Mexican publishers were not able to
satisfy the growing Central American market, so they resolved to enter
this unexplored territory. As PP stated: "[E]l libro argentino ocupa
ahora el segundo lugar entire los products de exportaci6n no traditional
(el primero es disputado por el t6 y el tabaco), con un monto que oscila
entire los 15 y los 20 millones de d61lares anuales."

de altura, un fragmento de la cdpula del sal6n." This was
another example of how badly the building, opened in 1901,

needed major repairs. Jos6 Edmundo Clemente, second-in-
command to Library Director Jorge Luis Borges, explained:
"En el derrumbe perdimos obras valiosas. No es nada nuevo en
la Biblioteca: las deficiencies de espacio, las lluvias, la
carencia de presupuestos, han debilitado su acervo."

Just as a "sano nacionalismo" required the
identification of domestic (cultural) ills, so too did it
mandate the trumpeting of genuine national achievements. Two
separate issues of PP, #39 (8-6-63) and #85 (6-23-64),
provide excellent examples. The former commemorated the
Losada publishing house's 25th anniversary, and the latter
did the same for its competitor, Sudamericana.

"Los 25 afos de Losada: Dos 4xitos constantes y mAs de
1.700 titulos" described the company's early years, listed
its perennial best-sellers, and highlighted its innovative
tendencies. According to Gonzalo Losada: "No seguimos el
gusto del publico, tratamos de formarlo." For example,
Losada could point to its pioneering role as the first
Argentine publishing house to award its own literary prize.20
However, Mr. Losada explained that it was not easy being a
publisher in a developing country: "Aqui falta nacionalismo
cultural, aunque en el resto de America es peor ZQu6
sentido tienen los premios en este continent? En general,
nuestros pueblos leen poco." PP was not so quick to accept
this view, and concluded the article on a more upbeat note:

20 Bernardo Verbitsky and Juan Carlos Onetti shared the initial prize,
awarded in 1940.

Sin embargo, un simple vistazo a las
nutridas bibliotecas del despacho de
Gonzalo Losada, donde se acumulan las
ediciones de la empresa--unos 1.700
titulos--desde las lujosas Tratado de la
pintura hasta las todavia econ6micas de
la colecci6n "ContemporAnea," demuestra
que el pdblico lee. 0, por lo menos, que
esta aprendiendo a leer, mientras lucha a
brazo partido con esta tierra americana
que Losada define como "atroz y

This article's dual emphasis on innovation--introducing
foreign and domestic authors, inaugurating literary
competitions, etc.--and on Losada's leadership in helping to
form readers' habits and tastes was perfectly logical; it is
exactly what PP would attempt to do throughout the remainder
of the decade.21

The article on Sudamericana also cast the company and
its editorial staff in a very positive light. According to
PP, Sudamericana's success had much to do with "una
planificaci6n cuidadosa y una vigilancia constant; y, desde
luego, la aventura." They too had introduced Argentine
readers to some excellent writers; for example, Lawrence
Durrell, James Purdy and Julio Cortdzar. However, the

discovery of some of these authors occurred under somewhat
mysterious circumstances. According to Antonio L6pez
Llausas, Sudamericana's founder, there was one person who had
a great deal of influence in the final editorial decisions
made by L6pez Llaus&s and his son, Jorge. But, since the
only two people who knew this individual's identity were Mr.

21 Five years later (#295, 8-26-68), PP would celebrate Losada's
thirtieth birthday with a one-page article in its "Aniversarios"

L6pez Llaus&s and his son, everyone else referred to him/her
as "el lector desconocido."

Losada and Sudamericana were Argentine publishing houses
whose roots could be traced to Spain and the consequences of
the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). Another publisher that
received early publicity in PP was the Fondo de Cultura
Econ6mica (FCE). It was founded in Mexico City in 1934, and
an Argentine branch opened in Buenos Aires in 1944. PP felt
it necessary to report on this publisher, celebrating its
thirtieth anniversary--the magazine made a habit of
celebrating anniversaries of all sorts--because by 1964 it
had become "el vertice cultural de los pauses de habla
castellana" (#99, 9-29-64)." PP was proud to quote Maria
Elena Satostegui, head of the local office since 1956: "[L]a
sucursal Buenos Aires es hasta la fecha la mas important de
todas." But the FCE's real importance, according to PP, lay
in the fact that it constituted "un indice mas que elocuente
de hechos que no pueden acallarse; tal la violent irrupci6n
de la cultural americana contemporAnea en el concerto de las
cultures mundiales."

A follow-up article in issue #120 (2-23-65) focused on
the FCE's director, Arnaldo Orfila Reynal, an Argentine who
had resided in Mexico for more than twenty years. Once
again, the reader learned that Orfila Reynal headed the
"editorial mas important de M4xico, de America." The
attentive reader was sure to catch three other significant
pieces of information as well. First, 59 percent of works to

22 Additional branch offices were set up in Santiago de Chile (1954),
Lima (1962), Madrid (1963), and Barcelona (1964). The FCE also had
representatives in Montevideo, Sao Paulo, Caracas and Bogota.

be published in 1965 wer works originally written in Spanish.
This compared to 1934, when only 3 percent of the FCE's
publications belonged to Spanish-speaking authors. Second,
Orfila Reynal was not only interested in books on economics
and sociology; to PP's delight, he spoke "con entusiasmo de
Julio Cort&zar, de los novelistas mexicanos Carlos Fuentes y
Juan Rulfo." Finally, Orfila Reynal was so vibrant and full
of ideas that five years earlier, at the request of
University of Buenos Aires (UBA) President Risieri Frondizi,
FCE "loaned" him to UBA so he could help plan and organize
the initial operations of EUDEBA.
Argentine publishers, then, could learn from their
colleagues abroad. PP offered another lesson in issue #130
(5-4-65). Horacio Oscar Valleta, head of the Spanish
publishing house Salvat, had this to say about book sales:
"Los comerciantes en libros impulsamos a la gente, la
interesamos en los mas vastos y arduos problems de la
cultural; nuestra ventaja es que vendemos cultural "
Unfortunately, in Valleta's opinion, the most advanced
techniques of advertising and selling books were not being
practiced in Argentina. Nevertheless, Salvat was willing to
help, as one more example of its constant preoccupation "por
tender un puente entire Espafa y la Argentina, por hacer de la

cultural un process afianzado en el hombre y no una arida


Another Spanish publisher, Seix Barral, had an outlook

that PP found especially appealing. The magazine took

advantage of Victor Seix's stop in Buenos Aires to describe

the guiding principles behind his selection of manuscripts

(#173, 4-25-66)."2 Seix Barral was interested primarily in

essays and literature, "y, paralelamente, el descubrimiento

constant de escritores de 6ptima calidad." The expertise of

their readers and their careful searches were such that

"dificilmente se nos escapan textos valiosos." They were

more interested in "descubrir un autor, antes que un libro,"

and preferred "obras en las cuales se encuentren hallazgos

formales; a menos que sea una obra de veras exceptional, la

tradici6n no nos interest." As we shall see below, this

attitude mirrored that held by those at PP who composed the

"Libros" section.25

23 These were the final words of the article. It is interesting to
note that they were not attributed to Valleta. One wonders if it was
simply a paraphrase of something said by Valleta or, perhaps, a
commentary on "what culture should be" according to the writer of the
article and/or PP.
Sudamericana, it should be noted, soon took steps to modernize the
sale and distribution of books. PP reported, in the "Senoras y Seiores"
section of issue #189 (8-15-66), that Fernando Vidal Buzzi had met with
booksellers from across the country in an effort to identify common
problems and try out new marketing strategies.
24 This brief article, "Hallazgos," appeared in the "Sefioras y
Seflores" section.
25 Not coincidentally, PP would later review all four works mentioned
in this article as soon-to-be-published by Seix Barral: Aldo
Pellegrini, Antologia de la poesia viva latinoamericana; Mario Vargas
Llosa, La casa verde; Carlos Martinez Moreno, Con las primeras luces;
and Joao Guimaraes Rosa, Gran Sert6n: Veredas.

PP did not limit itself to promotion of older, firmly
established Argentine and foreign publishing houses." It also
featured articles on younger publishers, and particularly
lent a helping hand to individuals involved in new publishing
ventures. An impressive example of this was the "Textos"
section, which PP described in a "Carta al lector" (#304,

En abril de 1967 inaugurdbamos la secci6n
Textos. Era un servicio, y no poco
informative, para los lectores interesados
en el arte literario de hoy, pues Textos
anticipa materials de pr6xima aparici6n;
era, tambidn, una novedad en las revistas
de noticias, hasta tal punto que dos de
nuestros colegas pronto nos imitaron;
finalmente, Textos se propone como un apoyo
permanent a las editoriales argentinas.

Naturally, publication of a "Texto" benefitted the
publisher (and author) of the featured excerpt. However, in
the case of new and/or highly specialized publishing houses,
PP's backing could be especially beneficial. PP gave some
"free publicity" to a brand-new Argentine publisher, Galerna,
when it featured a fragment of German Rozenmacher's Los ojos
del tire (#256, 11-27-67). An article in the same issue,
"Los primeros soplos del viento Galerna," detailed the
fledgling venture's early publication schedule, including
works by Felisberto Hernandez, Armonia Somers, Goethe,
Jonathan Swift, and Malcolm Lowry. In the judgement of PP,
"Galerna no podia haber elegido mejor carta de presentaci6n."
The support for another new publishing house, Sunda, was

28 Nor did it fail to remember "forefathers." In the "Biblioteca"
sidebar of issue #312 (12-24-68) PP paid homage to Antonio Zamora,
founder of the Claridad publishing house, and "un precursor de los
negocios editoriales en la Argentina."

just as explicit. In issue #237 (7-11-67), PP stated:

Por primera vez, con esta muestra, la secci6n
Textos incluye poemas. Dos son las razones:
la aparici6n de un grupo de creadores
rigurosos--de alrededor de treinta afos--
en una discipline cuyo nivel no habia hecho
otra cosa que descender, durante el ultimo
lustro, en la Argentina; la asociaci6n de
esos creadores en una editorial (Sunda, con
cuyo permiso se anticipan estos textos) que
acaba de incorporarse al creciente fen6meno
del libro argentino.27

PP also wrote special articles to announce the formation
of new publishing houses. In the same issue (#237), a short
piece entitled "Todos los dias una sorpresa" detailed
Sudamericana's new "Indice" collection--inexpensive editions
of out-of-print best-sellers--as well as the foundation of
Ediciones de la Flor. This new house, headed by two young
lawyers, Daniel Jorge Divinsky and Oscar Guido Finkelberg,
planned to publish twenty five books in 1967.
The entire "Biblioteca" section of issue #305 (11-4-68)
was devoted to Natalio Wisniacki and Alberto Serebrisky,
founders of Editorial Tiempo Contemporaneo, "el nuevo sello
que se prepare para inundar el mercado con sus primeros once
titulos en la segunda semana de noviembre." And, just as in
the case of Ediciones de la Flor, PP mentioned some of the
proposed titles. What is more, as they did every time they
publicized a new publishing house--Jorge Alvarez, Centro

27 The poets were Martin Micharvegas, Jos4 Peroni, Gianni Sicardi, and
Ruy Rodriguez.

Editor de Amdrica Latina (CEAL), Carlos Pdrez, ADITOR, etc.--

PP took great care to review several of their books in

subsequent "Libros" sections.28

PP also utilized its "Calendario" section--which

appeared at the front of the magazine and announced the

cultural events of the week--to promote publishers. In issue

#218 (3-6-67) readers learned that Editorial Planeta, a long

established Spanish publishing house, had just opened its new

Buenos Aires branch at Viamonte 1400, and would soon announce

the details of a literary contest exclusively for Argentine


Issue #314's "Calendario" (12-31-68) was even more

effusive in its praise of Juan Carlos Cicero, of Ediciones

del Mediodia:

Diez titulos de poetas argentinos
contemporaneos, publicados simult&neamente,
constituyen un voto de confianza a la
poesia nacional--esa pariente pobre
condenada a los anaqueles invisibles de
las librerias--absolutamente infrecuente:
es el que decidi6 otorgarle el editor Juan
Carlos Cicero (foto), del sello del Mediodia,
un riesgo que convierte a la colecci6n en el
acontecimiento de la semana.
28 By way of example, Ediciones de la Flor had "Textos" in issues 240
and 241 (8-1-67, "El recuerdo de las cArceles," Rodolfo ArAoz Alfaro;
and 8-8-67, "El deshonor de los poetas," Benjamin Peret). Their Libro
de los autores (selecci6n de Piri Lugones) was also reviewed in #241.
Editorial Tiempo Contemporaneo experienced a veritable bonanza of
coverage--during the height of the Christmas shopping season--in issue
#312 (12-17-68), with five book reviews: Cuentos recontados
(compiladora, Piri Lugones); Un viaje terrible, Roberto Arlt; Yo
(selecci6n de Ricardo Piglia); Cuentos, Enrique Wernicke; and La
frontera, Regis Debray.
This practice was carried out on a much smaller scale as well. In a
"Literatura" sidebar (#225, 4-24-67), PP revealed Marta Teglia's plans
to start up a new publishing company, Bocarte. Former director of a
defunct magazine, Air6n, Teglia planned to publish "s61o obras que
innoven en el campo del lenguaje, obviando el gusto del pdblico, pero
tratando de hacer algdn aporte concrete." Sure enough, PP reviewed
Bocarte's first book, La palabra mAqica, by Leonor Picchetti, only four
weeks later (#229, 5-22-67).

One hundred issues earlier (#214, 1-30-67), "Calendario"
described the recently-concluded social event of the week:

Desde la calle se podian oir los bramidos
de la jam-session, a trav4s de la maraia
de gente agolpada en un local de Corrientes
al 1300, el jueves pasado. Entre las mesas
de libros, las cazadoras de aut6grafos y
otros especimenes exhalaban suspiros cuando
asomaban sus artists de cabecera. Mientras
tanto, en el subsuelo, los invitados a la
fiesta observaban c6mo el hombre del dia
luchaba rubicundo, desde su remera verde,
contra un discurso y contra la luz que se
cortaba sin avisara: Jos6 Boris Spivacow
(foto), licenciado en MatemAtica, ex-cerebro
de EUDEBA, no necesitaba agregar nada a la
aparici6n del Centro Editor de America
Latina ni a los 270 mil ejemplares lanzados
el primer dia."

As if all this space devoted to publishers were not
enough, PP also commented frequently on the re-editions of

books. A good example occurred in issue #42 (8-27-63).

"Vuelve a vivir el Buenos Aires de 1941" praised the Fabril

publishing house's decision to reprint Bernardo Verbitsky's

award-winning novel, Es dificil empezar a vivir. In addition

to a brief analysis of the book and its great importance in

Argentine literary history, the article editorialized:

La reimpresi6n toca, de paso, otro de los
graves problems que aquejan la difusi6n de
la literature national: decenas de titulos
trascendentales no regresan a las librerias y
se frustra asi una necesaria comunicaci6n.
The magnitude of this number must not be overlooked. The fact that
one publishing company had released 270,000 books at its debut indicated
the extent to which the industry was experiencing a "boom." Things had
changed drastically, PP marvelled in the previously cited article on
Galerna (#256, 11-27-67): "El intercambio de materials con Arca [a
publisher in Montevideo] y la irrupci6n de otras editoriales nuevas en
el mercado (en un moment quiz& dnico de la literature argentina)
permitirA a Galerna conjurar el deficit actual de narradores, cuando ya
no quedan casi libros indditos de creadores malditos en el Rio de la

La lista se remonta a algunos autores
clAsicos y desemboca, en el siglo XX, con
piezas tan fundamentals como No toda es
vigilia la de los ojos abiertos, de
Macedonio FernAndez; AdAn Buenosayres, de
Leopoldo Marechal; Veinte poemas para ser
leidos en el tranvia, de Oliverio Girondo.30

PP, then, balanced its interest in new, innovative books

and authors, with a respect for the nation's bibliographical

past. They occasionally examined, for instance, the trade in

used/old books. An early full-page article dealt with book

collectors, "El amor por los libros, hobby para hombres

cultos y maniaticos" (#17, 3-5-63). Another one, "El hombre

de las pAginas amarillas," indicated that "Buenos Aires sigue

siendo una de las pocas capitals del mundo donde el negocio

de la compra-venta de libros viejos se abre a un paraiso de

misterios." It portrayed the diligence and passion of men

like "Eduardo Iglesias (40 afos, dos hijos), un baqueano que

rastrea desde 28 anos el laberinto de las primeras ediciones,

los libros raros, los papeles amarillos."

PP also wrote about one of the most polemical issues

involving the publishing business: the relationship between

author and publisher, specifically with regard to the payment

of royalties. The magazine presented both sides of the issue

and, although it appeared to take the authors' side in the

dispute, did so in an indirect way so as not to upset the

3o The article mentioned a fourth masterpiece that deserved a re-
edition: Sin embargo Juan vivia, by Alberto Vanasco. In keeping with
its consistent follow-up policy, PP would later review, often with great
fanfare, these and other works by the four deserving authors. For
example, the magazine devoted nearly two full pages to applaud Centro
Editor de America Latina's re-editions of Veinte poemas .
Calcomanias and Espantapaiaros, by Oliverio Girondo, whom they described
as "el Principe de los Poetas" (#214, 2-6-67).
Interestingly, the very same issue (#214) included special mention of
CEAL's new edition of Rosaura a las diez, by Marco Denevi, first
published by Kraft in 1955.

publishers who advertised heavily in the pages of PP. A
particularly noteworthy example of this debate appeared in
two consecutive issues, #210 (1-3-67) and #211 (1-10-67), in
a special boxed-off section entitled "Dialogos." The
exchange between Gloria Alcorta and Sudamericana's Antonio
L6pez Llaus&s was carried out in La Prensa, and reproduced in
PP. Alcorta, who started the debate with an open letter to
Argentine publishers, complained in #210:

Aqui el autor estA en una situaci6n
humillante. Nosotros no somos vendedores
de mercaderia, somos escritores, y si no
nos movemos, si no vamos a las radios, a
las emisoras de radiofonia, a las
revistas, nadie se ocupa de nosotros. Las
editoriales entregan, en la Argentina, diez
ejemplares sin cargo al autor. Este debe
distribuir esos diez libros entire las
personas que pueden comentarlo, y nadie
hace nada mAs. En Paris me entregaron 500
ejemplares, y los editors se preocuparon y
se dedicaron a facilitar el lanzamiento de
mi obra. Es mi deber reconocerlo.

L6pez LlausAs, who had in fact published two of
Alcorta's books, in 1958 and 1966, answered with his own open
letter, also included in #210. Here are some excerpts:

Mi querida amiga, Creo que ha llegado
la hora de que los editors nos defendamos
publicamente de acusaciones tan injustas
como las tuyas No voy a juzgar el mdrito
de los autores y la bondad de las obras que
publicamos Pero, independientemente de
la bondad, en el sentido literario, de los
libros publicados, los hay que se venden y
otros que no se venden o se venden poco.
En esto tiene la palabra el lector, sin
negar que la critical y el comentario, sobre
todo cuando son firmados--lo cual, en la
Argentina, ocurre pocas veces--pueda influir
en la venta. Entre los que se venden--me
refiero dnicamente a autores argentinos
publicados por Sudamericana--estAn ahora a
la cabeza: CortAzar, SMbato, Mallea,
Marechal, Mujica LAinez, Silvina Bullrich,

Juan Jos4 HernAndez, Abelardo Arias y
algunos otros. Entre los que no se venden
o se venden poco, est&s--desgraciadamente
e injustamente, si quieres--td.

L6pez LlausAs went on to point out that Argentine publishers
could not afford to relinquish 500 copies to the author, but
they did give them 100, not the ten claimed by Alcorta.
Furthermore, Alcorta received the same amount as Cort&zar,
Bullrich and SAbato, but their works managed to sell between
45,000 and 100,000 copies while hers did well to sell a
couple hundred. The comparison with French publishers was
unfair, he claimed:

te ruego que los invites a venir aqui,
a luchar en nuestro medio, con las
dificultades de obtener papel, de exportar,
de cobrar, con esta critical tan deseada, no
s61o por los autores sino tambidn por
nosotros, y con la escasa, por no decir nula,
atenci6n de quienes deberian mirar y mimar
al libro como se hace en otros pauses, y
veriamos si pueden llegar a donde estamos

Alcorta's reply, in La Prensa, was printed in #211. She
declared that she was not complaining about her own
treatment, but rather spoke on behalf of many authors whose
choice was total anonymity or a humiliating self-promotion.
She argued that "todos los escritores que nombras como
autores de best-sellers tienen, ademAs de talent,
vinculaciones con los principles medios de difusi6n del
pais." She said she was not worried about poor sales of her
two books with Sudamericana:

Recuerdo que una noche, en casa de Adolfo
Bioy Casares, un grupo de escritores jugamos
a quidn era el que habia vendido menos
libros. Silvina Ocampo y Bioy Casares, que
estAn a mi juicio a la cabeza de la mejor
literature fantAstica de mi pais,

compartieron el premio con doscientos
ejemplares cada uno. ZC6mo no sentirme
orgullosa de que tu revelaci6n me haya
situado en tan excelente compafia?

Of course, both Alcorta and L6pez Llausas were partially
right. Argentine authors and publishers had legitimate
grievances. However, in one sense, Alcorta seemed to be
blind to what was happening around her. To put it simply, by
1967 Argentine publishers were doing much more than they had
traditionally done to promote books. And PP was there to
help them. They insisted they were providing the high-
quality journalistic literary criticism that both Alcorta and
L6pez LlausAs desired, and their pages were full of
advertising by and for Argentine publishers.

The issue of publicity and advertising inevitably lent
itself to questions, dilemmas and a fair share of
controversy. For example, where was the dividing line
between "paid" and "free" advertising? Did some individuals
and companies, as Alcorta suggested, receive special
treatment due to their personal ties with other people in the
literary field? On the one hand, the answer would seem
obvious: personal relationships certainly played a role in
decisions concerning literary coverage. After all, it is
only human nature to help those with whom one has affective,
artistic and ideological affinities. A close examination of
the correlation between paid advertising and "free"
publicity--in the form of "Calendario" announcements,
"Libros" reviews, "Textos," "Biblioteca" blurbs, "Senoras y
Sefores" gossip, and the like--clearly shows that those who
advertised heavily received considerable exposure. One

reader, Jorge Salgado, noticed this tendency in issue #326


Al rev6s del lector Osvaldo A. Prato
[Correo, NQ 321] el dnico punto que me
preocupa en Primera Plana es la secci6n
Artes y EspectAculos, que para l1
mantiene su "digno brillo." Yo objeto:
(2) Las notas sobre Literatura, donde
se aprecia, despues del convenio con
Sudamericana para el premio de novela,
una gran difusi6n acordada a los autores
y titulos que public esa editorial y de
los que distribuye Librecol, firm
relacionada con Sudamericana. Primera
Plana ha promocionado "genios" que produce
p&ginas intrascendentes (Lezama Lima,
[German] Garcia, etc.; a "Macondo" hasta el
cansancio y hasta al actual Cortazar, a
quien ahora se le da por avalar autores
latinoamericanos y libros de fotografias y
que, ademAs, esta escribiendo cualquier cosa.
Todo ello a trav6s de las listas de Best
Sellers, en las cuales significativamente
el primer lugar es ocupado casi siempre por
Sudamericana y, en algunos casos, cuatro
de los cinco primeros. Ya algunas librerias
trabajan con estas listas. Muy alentador,

PP protested that the accusation of favoritism towards

Sudamericana was unjustified. They produced figures to

bolster their case:

[D]urante 1968 esta revista public resefas
de 193 libros, de los cuales s61o 29 (el 15
por ciento) eran ediciones de Sudamericana.
El propio lector Salgado cita cuatro autores:
s61o dos de ellos (Garcia MArquez, Cort&zar)
estAn en la carter de aquella editorial.
En cuanto a la lista de Best Sellers,

31 Salgado's letter concluded on a sarcastic note: "Por iltimo,
asombra que en material de poesia argentina hablen de Aguirre, Bayley,
Madariaga, etc., y se olviden de uno de nuestros mayores poetas vivos,
Armando Tejada G6mez. O no leyeron Profeta en su tierra? ZSer& porque
e1 no practice relaciones pdblicas, o porque es un poeta del pueblo?
Claro, me olvidaba de que Primera Plana es preferida tres veces mas que
otras revistas argentinas, entire los miembros del Jockey Club de Buenos

insistimos una vez mAs en que no es fraguada
en la Redacci6n de Primera Plana."

My own calculation of the number of books reviewed in PP

and their publishers yields the following results:

Table 3

Top Publishers of Books Reviewed, #1 (11-13-62)-OJO (8-12-69)

Publisher Number of Percentage#

Sudamericana 143 12.9%
Jorge Alvarez 76 6.8%
Seix Barral 62 5.6%
Emecd 58 5.2%
Losada 48 4.3%
Sur 29 2.6%
Galerna 25 2.2%
Siglo XXI 25 2.2%
Ediciones de la Flor 24 2.2%
EUDEBA 24 2.2%
Brdjula 22 2.0%
Paid6s 19 1.7%
Fondo de Cultura Econ6mica 19 1.7%
Joaquin Mortiz 18 1.6%
Arca 17 1.5%
CEAL 16 1.4%
Alianza Editorial 15 1.3%
Alfa 15 1.3%
Minotauro 15 1.3%
Plaza & Janes 15 1.3%
Grijalbo 14 1.3%
Siglo Veinte 12 1.1%
Gallimard 11& 1.0%

*Includes books reviewed, "Textos" and articles
devoted to specific publishing houses.
#Based on 1112 entries.
&There were 38 other publishing houses which had
between ten and three book reviews during this period.

32 PP's opinion of Salgado's poet: "Hemos leido la obra entera de
Armando Tejada G6mez; no interest a nuestros criticss"

These figures appear to prove Mr. Salgado's point.

However, a look at the publishers whose books were most

frequently reviewed actually reveals no surprises.

Sudamericana probably did receive special consideration in

certain instances. Power and prestige have a way of

accomplishing things that anonymity cannot match. However,

as the nation's premier publisher, it would seem only natural

that it topped the list of books reviewed. Moreover, as

anyone familiar with the Argentine (and Latin American)

publishing industry during the 1960s can attest, the

appearance of Jorge Alvarez, Seix Barral, Emec6, Losada, Sur,

Galerna, Siglo XXI, Ediciones de la Flor, and EUDEBA in the

top ten positions was logical. The fact that there

were an additional eighteen publishers in the 1-3% range, and

another thirty-eight that had at least three books reviewed

shows that coverage actually encompassed a wide spectrum of


The answer to the question of "favoritism" appears to be
that which applies to so many areas of human endeavor: "yes
and no." The case of Jorge Alvarez, and his publishing house
prominently featured in PP, is particularly interesting in
this regard. In a sense, it was almost as if Mr. Alvarez
were a member of PP's staff. He was of the same generation
as the magazine's young writers. The establishment of his
publishing house coincided precisely with PP's post-Jacobo
Timerman stage, when the magazine's cultural emphasis
increased noticeably. That is to say, at the same time that

PP was placing Jorge Luis Borges (#94), Julio Cortazar

(#103), and Leopoldo Marechal (#155) on the cover, reserving
several pages for reports on Ezequiel Martinez Estrada (#91
and #105), highlighting the great success of national

literature in 1964 (#116), and instituting a literary prize

(#85 and #125), they were reviewing early offerings from

Jorge Alvarez: ZA que viene de Gaulle?, Rogelio Garcia Lupo
(#99); El derrotado, Leopoldo Torre Nilsson (#105);
Literature y revoluci6n, Leon Trotsky (#108); Literatura
argentina y realidad political, David Vifas (#112); and the
first in a series of "cr6nicas" that would extend through
1969, Cr6nicas del pasado, selecci6n de Julia Constenla

Mr. Alvarez himself was frequently mentioned in the
pages of PP. He was something of a celebrity in Argentine
artistic circles. At the same time, the perception was that
he published virtually anything he could get his hands on.'4

An argument could be made that he was on the "cutting edge"
of the Argentine publishing industry. For example, in 1969

(#339, 6-24-69) he attained the rights to reproduce, in
Spanish, articles from the French magazine, Tel Quel, which
featured the musings of many of the famous intellectuals of
the period: Barthes, Foucault, Bataille, Jakobson, Derrida,
Sollers, and the like.

Alvarez most seemed like a member of the PP staff in his

33 Subsequent "cr6nicas," all reviewed, would appear in issues 138,
146, 147, 153, 168, 186, 193, 196, 199, 213, 218, 247, 264, 276, and
336. In another issue, Alvarez explained: "[L]as Cr6nicas fueron un
invento que esgriml ante la imposibilidad de tener autores que ya
estaban comprometidos con otras editoriales." By late-1968, he had sold
more than 400,000 of them.
34 Adolfo Prieto, personal interview, 9 February 1995.

advertisements. His company's name (sometimes accompanied by
photos of Jorge himself) became a virtual fixture in the
magazine. Rare was the issue in which Jorge Alvarez did not
advertise. And these were not the conservative, nondescript,
staid ads traditionally placed by Argentine publishers. In
fact, they contained the same creativity, flair and audacity
that characterized PP's own propaganda. They caught the
reader's attention through clever artwork or questions or
humorous text. For instance, in issue #112 (12-29-64) the
outline of a hand, in white, superimposed against a black
background, as if to say "stop," declared: "Jorge Alvarez
present una nueva novela, Adi6s a la izquierda, de Bernardo
Carey." In issue #250 (10-10-67) "Mafalda's" characters
announced in comic-strip form that Asi es la cosa, Mafalda
would soon be released. The third panel read: "Otro libro
que importa, iy c6mol, de Editorial Jorge Alvarez." A full-
page ad in #272 (3-18-68) said: "Tanto bueno en Jorge
Alvarez," listed several books, and asked: "uUsted no ley6
todavia La sefora Ord6fez de Marta Lynch? ZCompr6,
ley6, coment6 los nuevos libros? ZTorre Nilsson, Anibal
Ford, Ricardo Piglia, Tununa Mercado?" Another full-page ad
in issue #312 (12-24-68) described the "REGALO/VALE"
Christmas offer underway in the Jorge Alvarez bookstore. The
headline suggested: "Si no tiene a quien, regAleselo a
usted: IEs tan lindol" The details:
El reqalo/vale de la libreria de Jorge
Alvarez posibilita un suefo (o una pesadilla):
elegir cualquier libro de cualquier editorial.
Con un regalo/vale usted depara la suerte (o
la desgracia) de tener que elegir entire
libros, posters o discos literarios.
Con su regalo/vale nosotros no somos menos

y por cada compra (de 1.000 a 5.000$) le
regalamos un libro nuestro.

The epitome of this advertising style can be found in
issue #339 (6-30-69). In this ad, a grinning Jorge Alvarez,
with posters in hand and books strewn on the floor, warned
(in a cartoon bubble): "INo se dejen seducir! This text

Cada vez que la gente en los 61timos afios
compra y compra libros de nuestro sello nos
dan ganas de preguntarle si estAn al dia
con lo que se public en otras editoriales.
Pensamos en Rayuela y 62 de Sudamericana /
Paradiso de la Flor / Girondo en Losada /
Las palabras y las cosas de Foucault en
Siglo XXI / o las Mitol6qicas de Levi
Strauss en Fondo de Cultura / los Freud y
los Marx de Alianza Editorial / Las aves
del Arca de Galerna / El Libro Hippie de
Y la lista, claro, es infinita. Y la gente
sigue comprando y nosotros haciendo los
mejores libros.
Y para colmo, ahora salimos con estas
cartas en la manga: Diario del ladr6n de
Genet / Ub_ complete de Jarry / Una
colecci6n de clAsicos que se inicia con
Memorias del subsuelo de Dostoievsky /
nuestra reciente Operaci6n massacre de Walsh /
la colecci6n "Perfiles" que sigue ahora por
un Trotsky, Joyce, Kafka, Lukacs / China o la
Revoluci6n para siempre de Kordon / la
revista Tel Quel en castellano / El 45 de
F1lix Luna en la colecci6n "Los argentinos" /
Para no avergonzarnos de que nos compren
tantos libros (buenos) quisimos distraerlos
un poco. Llenamos nuestra libreria de
Talcahuano 485 con discos de Mandioca (discos
muy j6venes de mdsica muy nueva) y con posters
de Mano. ZY que pas6? Ustedes se llevan
discos de Mandioca y posters de Romeo-Leonard
Whitting iy libros de Jorge Alvarez!
No sabemos qud hacer, compren nuestros libros
pero no se dejen seducir. 0 por lo menos no
se dejen seducir s61o por nosotros. Gracias.

The tone adopted by Alvarez influenced competitors in
the industry. Ads by older houses such as Sudamericana and
Losada, and less irreverent newcomers like CEAL, though more
serious in nature, became more visually appealing and

included a wider range of titles and authors. The Alvarez
stamp was especially evident in the publicity campaigns of
new houses run by young Argentines. Ediciones de la Flor ran
this ad in issue #312 (12-24-68):

ZY de la Flor? Cuatro libros con
destinatario [y dos mAs por las dudas].
Para los que estan solos, los que amaron,
est&n amando o piensan amar: LOS OLTIMOS
POEMAS DE AMOR, de Paul Eluard [traducidos
por Cesar Fernandez Moreno]. Para los
comprometidos, los que piensan o pensaron
que la acci6n a veces vence a la soledad:
RETRATO DEL AVENTURERO, un ensayo de Roger
Stephane con studio preliminary de Jean-Paul
Sartre. Para los que leen los diarios con
pasi6n, los que sienten que la Argentina es
su casa: LOS GUERRILLEROS, una novela de
Iverna Codina. Para turistas, becarios,
exiliados, pr6fugos, navegantes solitarios,
nAufragos, viajeros con 6se u otros destinos,
para amantes de la emoci6n y la diversi6n:
VUELTA, con cuentos y textos de Rozenmacher,
Lanuza, Cuzzani, Kordon, Neruda, Sebreli,
Gonzalez Tui6n, etc. Y para los que
icaramba! se olvidaron de comprarlos cuando
aparecieron: PARADISO, de Jos6 Lezama Lima,
[la novela del afo] y PARA VIVIR UN GRAN
AMOR, de Vinicius de Moraes [cr6nicas y
poemas del creador de la bossa nova].

Carlos Perez also imitated this style. His ad in #338
(6-17-69) seemed like it could have been for Jorge Alvarez.
It started by asking: "ZPor qu6 anunciamos estos cuatro
libros?" The answer: "Porque si no ley6 ninguno es seguro
que hay 1 de su interns (a menos que usted sea muy informado
y entonces habrA 2 (o tan inteligente que los 3) y no podemos

career que conozca ya los 4.) Si, si, siga leyendo, pero,

Zest& seguro? Pero de veras, veras, porque nos pone
orgullosos haberlos editado. Usted, Zcu-1 va a leer

Jorge Alvarez's influence could also be seen in fellow
publishers' efforts to match the success of his "Cr6nicas."
In its review of the first installment, Cr6nicas del pasado

(#130, 5-4-65), PP explained the plan:

Cuando el editor Jorge Alvarez avizor6, a
mediados del afo pasado, la posibilidad de
inaugurar una colecci6n de antologias,
decidi6 darle un ritmo de aparici6n y una
caracteristica original. Ambas cosas
parecen haberse conseguido: la series tendrh
una regularidad mensual con una tirada de
5.000 ejemplares por edici6n, y responder&
al criterio de Cr6nicas con una unidad

Of course, the idea itself was not new. Perhaps the
most celebrated early example in Argentina was the Antologia
de la literature fantAstica (Jorge Luis Borges, Silvina
Ocampo, and Alberto Bioy Casares), whose first, and only,
edition had been published by Sudamericana in 1942. What was
novel was the success of the Alvarez series. In fact,

Sudamericana appeared to be so impressed with the phenomenon
that it dusted off the original Antoloqia, added four texts
and a new prologue by Bioy Casares, and printed a second
edition. Naturally, it received a timely review in PP
(#152, 10-11-65)."

"3 Numerous other titles were launched by rival publishers. Among
some of the more notable were: Antologia internal, published by Zona,
and reviewed in #156 (11-2-65); El libro de los autores, published by
Ediciones de la Flor, and reviewed in #241 (8-8-67); and Cuentos
recontados, published by Tiempo Contemporaneo, and reviewed in #312 (12-
17-68). New and/or small publishers seemed to view the anthology as a
potential winner in terms of sales and publicity.

This examination of publisher advertising in PP raises,
once again, the question of favoritism. When one considers
the correlation between frequency of advertising, and number
of reviews and amount of "free" publicity, it is tempting to
say that the publishing houses, when they placed paid
advertisements in PP, were purchasing more than just space on
a page. And, while there can be little doubt that this did
occur, the real question--and one which probably cannot be
fully answered, some three decades after the fact--is the
extent to which special treatment was rendered.
In reality, both parties had an interest, and the modus
operandi adopted by the publishers and PP appeared to be
mutually beneficial. For example, a Jorge Alvarez ad in
issue #260 (12-19-67) featured fourteen titles. Under the
heading "Ficci6n" there were seven: La sefora Ord6iez (Marta
Lynch); Entre sajones y el arrabel (Leopoldo Torre Nilsson);
La invasion (Ricardo Piglia); Sumbosa (Anibal Ford); Celebrar
a la muier como a una pascua (Tununa Mercado); Cr6nicas
norteamericanas; and Introducci6n al camelo (Esteban
Peicovich). PP reviewed, or excerpted in "Textos," all but
Peicovich's book. An observer might find this suspicious.
However, it is important to note that even if a work was
advertised and reviewed, that did not guarantee it a
favorable review. To cite but one example, even though PP
reviewed all the Alvarez "Cr6nicas," the opinions were not
uniform. The reviews ran the gamut, from very positive to
quite negative.36

38 The review of Cr6nicas del sexo, Cr6nicas de la violencia and
Cr6nicas para fiestas (#168, 3-21-68) took this perspectives "Lo poco
que puede rescatarse de estos tres tomos [son cinco histories]."

What is more, how can one draw a clear line between
commercial, cultural and aesthetic concerns? Did PP choose
to review Anibal Ford, Ricardo Piglia, Tununa Mercado, et
al., simply because Jorge Alvarez placed an ad? As we shall
see below, PP's choice of review subjects was quite coherent,
and had just as much to do with questions of culture and
aesthetics. Did PP and the publishers coordinate ads and
reviews? The answer to this question appears to be
affirmative. Did a publisher advertise a book because they
knew PP would review it? Did PP review a book on the
expectation that the publisher would follow up with
advertising for that work? Again, this could be
logically inferred from a close analysis of the "Libros"

In sum, it is a question of interpretation. What we
have is a dilemma similar to the question of whether the
glass is half full or half empty. One final example serves
to illustrate the problem. Centro Editor de America Latina
placed a half-page advertisement in issue #213 (1-24-67)
informing readers that the new company had just published
270,000 books. They founded CEAL "para difundir, en grandes
tiradas y a precious excepcionales, las expresiones mas
importantes de la ciencia, la t4cnica, la literature, las
artes." Their motto was "mas libros para mas," and to prove
it they would publish a total of 2,000,000 during 1967.
Furthermore, their prices were extremely low; at a time when
one issue of PP cost 120 pesos, CEAL was selling Argentine
classics for between 80 and 150 pesos. Interestingly enough,
this was the very same issue in which the previously cited

"Calendario" section described the party celebrating CEAL's
opening. One could argue that with its ad, CEAL, in effect,
"bought" the "Calendario" blurb. However, such a simplistic
explanation would overlook the cultural significance of the
project and the event, and, as a result, would trivialize
PP's decision to cover it.
Finally, PP's coverage of the literary sections of
provincial newspapers (e.g., La Gaceta de Tucuman), state
support for the arts, literary prizes of all types, and,
perhaps most importantly, literary journals, indicate that
profit was not its only motive. Just as it trumpeted the
founding of new publishers and gave advance notice concerning
their initial projects, so too did it announce the formation
of new literary magazines. For example, in issue #317 (1-27-
69), PP commented favorably on the imminent appearance of the
first edition of Macedonio, directed by Alberto Vanasco and
Juan Carlos Martinez. PP was particularly impressed by the
faith held by Vanasco and Martinez, because to "[i]nsistir en
el lanzamiento de una publicaci6n literaria a estas alturas
de la difusi6n del libro, puede parecer una tarea obsoleta."
The first issue of Macedonio, "pulcra y bella a trav6s de sus
64 p&ginas," included unpublished poems by Juan Gelm&n, one
of Martinez's own short stories, and an essay by Mariano
Ferrazano that "replantea la eficacia del arte como
In "Tres titulos en el mercado" (#171, 4-11-66), PP
covered the topic of literary journals in general, and
announced the appearance of three new entries in the field.
Pedro Sirera's downtown kiosk--"especie de term6metro

infalible"--gave an idea as to the prevailing situation in

the Argentine capital:

Alli es possible comprobar que, por lo menos,
treinta revistas literarias arremeten contra
los lectores de Buenos Aires. Desde sus
pAginas, decenas de j6venes poetas y
cuentistas tratan de hacerse oir.
No por much tiempo: a veces, las ediciones
s61o alcanzan un primer ndmero; las demAs,
dificilmente superen el d4cimo. La ausencia
no se siente porque a revista muerta, revista
puesta; sin embargo, este continue movimiento
no s61o habla en favor de la cultural sino de
la propia Argentina. Salvo los Estados
Unidos, en el resto del continent no existe
una tan intensa--y sacrificada--
proliferaci6n intellectual.

To PP's delight, the three newcomers, Informaci6n Literaria

(Eduardo Stilman), Cuadernos de poesia (Alfredo Andr6s), and

Testigo (Sigfrido Radaelli), were "bastante alejadas del

modelo cldsico: poemas vacilantes, cuentos imperfectos, y

algdn editorial explosive sobre Cuba no tienen cabida en

ninguna de ellas."37

Finally, given PP's interest in the simultaneous
promotion of reading and the publishing industry, it was

consistent for them to welcome into the fray an aptly-named

new magazine, Los libros, headed by Guillermo Schavelzon and

Hector Schmucler. This monthly, PP reported in the

"Biblioteca" section of issue #333 (5-19-69), would be "un

37 Pp also celebrated the tenacity of those who survived in this
difficult environment. In issue #88 (7-14-64) they commemorated the
tenth anniversary of Arist6bulo Echegaray's Biblioqrama: "Cumplir diez
anos es, para una revista, un acontecimiento desacostumbrado en un pals
donde la literature de circunstancias o de combat s61lo es consumida
'por un tipo de gente mal vestida y con barbas, de quienes no se sabe si
son modernos o locos,' como los define el propietario de un quiosco que
estA junto al teatro San Martin, en la calle Corrientes." What PP
seemed to like most about Bibliograma was its reputation as a "terreno
abierto a todos los puntos de vista" and the fact that, as a
collaborator of Echegaray put it: "Con nosotros, los amigos del libro,
se acaba en la Argentina el mito de las generaciones antag6nicas."

6rgano de critical bibliogrAfica, hecho por especialistas y
orientado hacia un pdblico mas amplio al dia con todo
el movimiento de publicaciones del pais, de Latinoambrica y
del mundo." As if this were insufficient to demonstrate the
new magazine's affinities with the cultural sections of PP,
plans called for some of the following features:
"'Semblanzas de escritores argentinos,' 'Reportaje,'
'Noticias sobre el movimiento editorial argentino,' 'Los
medios de comunicaci6n de masas,' 'Encuestas,' 'Revaloraci6n
del pasado,' 'Anticipos de textos,' 'Aniversarios y premios'
y 'Polemicas.'"
All of the examples cited up to this point have been
isolated articles which, read together, constitute a very
coherent and consistent whole. However, the apogee of PP's
coverage of the Argentine reading public--what it was and/or
should be reading--and developments affecting the national
publishing industry appeared in three separate issues: #116
(1-26-65); #155 (10-26-65); and #306 (11-11-68). Let us
examine them in chronological order.
The "Carta al lector" in #116 included this observation:
Las estadisticas editoriales de 1964
demuestran una irrefrenable tendencia en el
pdblico argentino a leer mas ficciones
argentinas; a primera vista, esa comprobaci6n
parece mindscula, pero es la punta de un
ovillo que permiti6 obtener otras
informaciones fundamentals. Es ya evidence,
por ejemplo, que el hombre medio de este pais
destina por lo menos un dos por ciento de su
salario para comprar libros, y que en 1965,
la expansion editorial permitir& que este
porcentaje crezca. La conclusion es obvia:
a un mas intenso hAbito de lectura
corresponde una mayor capacitaci6n, una
actitud mas ambiciosa ante la vida. El
fen6meno est& explicado en un informed que
se extiende entire las pAginas 34 y 39 y que

incluye, ademAs, una estadistica sobre los
libros mAs vendidos de cada editorial y un
andlisis de los planes para 1965.

The title of the five-page feature article was "La Argentina
donde reinan los libros," and its opening paragraphs vividly
described a highly competitive climate that seemed to benefit
all involved. Argentine publishers, fortunately, had
responded to the challenge of foreign publishers--most
notably the Fondo de Cultura Econ6mica, from Mexico, and
Plaza & Janes, Aguilar, and Seix Barral, from Spain--and,
although they had not recovered their hegemony, "al menos
prepararon el terreno: la guerra los templ6, los forz6 a
crear mercados nuevos, a violentar la apatia de los remisos."
Non-governmental literary prizes had mushroomed, from two in
the mid-1950s to the current fifteen. Book-signings at
shops, stands and bookstores had become the norm. The 1964
Feria del Libro had more than 100,000 visitors. Literature
was in the air, and there were two interesting consequences:
"todo lector aspir6 a transformarse en escritor (o]
todo escritor fracasado se content con ser, mansamente, un
buen lector."
Seix Barral again received accolades: "[es] una
editorial catalana cuya influencia parece ya no tolerar
limits: fue una de las empresas madres que protegi6, en el
c6nclave de Formentor (donde se premi6 hace tres atos a Jorge
Luis Borges y a Samuel Beckett), la renovaci6n de la
literature contempordnea." Its talented agents were
responsible for finding, and publishing, "cincuenta novelas
revolucionarias," and its Biblioteca Breve prize "se