Arturo Úslar Pietri (1906-2001)


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Arturo Uslar Pietri (1906-2001). [Source:]

Arturo Úslar Pietri is perhaps the most prominent Venezuelan intellectual of the twentieth century. His long intellectual career touched all aspects of life in the country. He was a prolific author of fiction, poetry and essays. He had a long career of public service that led him to exercise ministerial positions, serving as a parliamentarian and, ultimately, to bet on an unsuccessful presidential campaign. As journalist he was one of the most widely read columnists in the country, as well as a bold commentator on social, cultural and political life of Venezuela, Latin America and the whole world. As an educator he was professor of several national and international institutions, including Universidad Central de Venezuela and Columbia University. And if all this were not enough, Úslar Pietri was also a TV star, starring in a television series that for over fifty years became an essential reference for cultural awareness in Venezuela. His interests were wide and erudite, but he particularly devoted himself to reflect on the problem of Latin American identity, anxious to figure out the roots of what he used to call Latin Americans’ “ontological anxiety,” its search for an identity out of the contradictions and chaos that came out from the conquest and colonization of the “New World.” Finally, in addition to being an intellectual and statesman, he was also a successful entrepreneur, partner of one of Venezuela’s pioneers advertising agencies

Arturo Úslar Pietri was born on 16 May 1906 in Caracas, Venezuela. His great-grand-father was a German officer who fought in Waterloo against Napoleon I and later joined Bolivar’s forces against Spain during the Venezuelan wars of independence.

A precocious author, he publishes his first journalist articles in 1920, age 14. He completes his doctorate in Political Sciences from Universidad Central de Venezuela in 1929. After that, he travels to Paris as a part of the Venezuelan delegation to the League of Nations. In Paris, he meets writers Paul Valéry, Robet Desnos, André Bretón, and Spanish filmmaker Luis Buñuel, among others. Also in Paris, he meets two young Latin American writers with whom he establishes a close lifelong  friendship: Guatemalan Miguel Ángel Asturias and Cuban Alejo Carpentier.

After his return to Venezuela in 1934, he works as a temporary judge and then serves in multiple capacities during the administration of Gral. Eleazar López Contreras. Later he serves as Secretary to the Presidency, Finance Minister and Interior Minister during the administration of Gral. Isaías Medina Angarita until his ousting by a civic-military coup in October 1945.

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Critical edition of Las lanzas coloradas y cuentos selectos published by Fundación Biblioteca Ayacucho (Caracas, 1979).

During those years of active statesmanship, Úslar Pietri continues his work as writer, publishing his first collections of stories Barrabás y otros cuentos in 1918 and his first novel Las lanzas coloradas in 1931. In 1928 he also participates in the creation of Válvula, an avant-garde magazine that introduces the work of a whole generation of new literary voices such as Miguel Otero Silva, Fernando Paz Castillo, Nelson Himiob, Gonzalo Carnevalli and Pedro Sotillo, among others.

After the coup against Medina Angarita, Úslar Pietri travels to New York where he works as a visiting lecturer first and then as assistant professor of Latin American literature at Columbia University. He returns to Venezuela in 1949 after another coup ousts recently elected president Romulo Gallegos.

Back in Venezuela, he re-engages with his literary and journalist careers. He also becomes professor of Political Economy at his alma mater, post he resigns to in 1953 after the dictator Marcos Pérez Jiménez decrees that all university personnel must participate in the military parades organized by the regime.

In 1953 he also begins his work as TV personality, launching his TV series Valores humanos that remains on air for more than 30 years until 1985.

After Venezuela’s democracy is restored in 1958, Uslar Pietri returns to politics winning a senate seat as an independent in December that year. In 1963 he decides to run as a third-party candidate for president. Although his bet was unsuccessful, he is able to gain 16% of the country’s support.

Úslar Pietri retires from politics in 1973, after serving for almost a decade as senator for the National Democratic Front, a political party he and others created in 1964. In 1971 he is awarded the National Prize in Journalism as well as the Hispanic American Prize in Journalism Miguel de Cervantes for his article “Los expulsados de la Civilización.” In 1990, he receives the Prince of Asturias Prize and the next year the Romulo Gallegos Prize for his novel La visita en el tiempo, a lyrical representation of John of Austria’s life, the bastard son of Spanish emperor Charles V.

Arturo Úslar Pietri died in Caracas on 27 February 2001.

Critical Reception

  • Aínsa, Fernando. “Entre la decepción y la esperanza La isla de Robinsón de Arturo Uslar Pietri: De la Historia a la Utopía.” Hispamérica 24.72 (1995): 101–110.
  • Arráiz Lucca, Rafael. “Lectura de tres ensayos (Galbraith, Uslar Pietri, Bitar y Troncoso).” Boletín de la Academia Nacional de la Historia (Venezuela) 90.359 (2007): 197–201.
  • —. Arráiz Lucca, Rafael. Literatura venezolana del siglo XX. Caracas: Editoral Alfa, 2009.
  • Arráiz Lucca, Rafael, y Edgardo Mondolfi Gudat, eds. Arturo Uslar Pietri: valoración múltiple. Caracas: Los libros de El Nacional, 2012.
  • Bohórquez, Douglas. “Arturo Uslar Pietri y Simón Rodríguez : poder y pasión de lectura.” Bulletin Hispanique 105.1 (2003): 231–244.
  • Bustamante, Nora. “Prieto y Figueroa y Uslar Pietri un ideal compartido: dos posiciones divergentes.” Boletín de la Academia Nacional de la Historia (Venezuela) 85.338 (2002): 28–43.
  • Carrillo Batalla, Tomás Enrique. “Homenaje de las academias nacionales al Dr. Arturo Uslar Pietri.” Academia Nacional de la Historia (Venezuela). Boletín de la Academia Nacional de la Historia 89.355 (2006): 69.
  • DeSola, R. J. L. “Arturo Uslar Pietri: Predicador laico.” Boletín de la Academia Nacional de la Historia (Venezuela) 91.362 (2008): 149–165.
  • —. “Uslar Pietri: Creador literario.” Boletín de la Academia Nacional de la Historia (Venezuela) 87.346 (2004): 253–259.
  • Englekirk, John E. “‘Antología del cuento moderno venezolano’, Selección de Arturo Uslar Pietri y Julián Padrón.” Revista Iberoamericana 4.4 (1940): n. pág.
  • Febres, Laura. “El huidizo sentido de la independencia en La Isla de Robinson de Arturo Uslar Pietri.” Vivat Academia (2011): 1–17.
  • Fernández Heres, Rafael. “Don Arturo Uslar Pietri (1906-2001).” Boletín de la Academia Nacional de la Historia (Venezuela) 84.333 (2001): 3–11.
  • Gnutzmann, Rita. “La historia de Lope de Aguirre según Uslar Pietri: El camino de El Dorado.’” Revista de Crítica Literaria Latinoamericana 17.34 (1991): 135–145.
  • González López, Emilio. “Uslar Pietri y la novela histórica venezolana.” Revista Hispánica Moderna 13 (1949): 44.
  • González Stephan, Beatriz. “’Barrabás’ de Arturo Uslar Pietri en la Venezuela de 1928.” Revista de Crítica Literaria Latinoamericana 6.11 (1980): 47–63.
  • “IN MEMORIAM: Arturo Uslar Pietri (1906-2001).” Boletín de la Academia Nacional de la Historia (Venezuela) 84.333 (2001): 1–10.
  • Knowlton, Jr Edgar C. “Uslar-Pietri’s ‘Madrigal.’” Explicator 37.3 (1979): 20–21.
  • Lara, Julio B. “Arturo Uslar Pietri en sus 100 años.” Boletín de la Academia Nacional de la Historia (Venezuela) 91.362 (2008): 73–142.
  • Le Joliff, Tatiana C., and Juan M. F. Bustos. “Robinson, Rousseau y Rodríguez: el naufragio de la utopía latinoamericana en La isla de Robinson de Arturo Uslar Pietri.” Revista Chilena de Literatura 83.83 (2013): 5–34.
  • López Ortega, Antonio. “Venezuela: Historia, política  y literatura (conversación con Arturo Uslar Pietri).” Revista Iberoamericana 60.166 (1994): n. pág.
  • Marbán, Jorge. “Entrevista con Arturo Uslar Pietri.” Hispania: A Journal Devoted to the Interests of the Teaching of Spanish and Portuguese 70.2 (1987): 322.
  • Miliani, Domingo. “Arturo Uslar Pietri. La lucha con el minotauro.” Revista Iberoamericana 60.166 (1994): n. pag.
  • Pacheco, Carlos. “Arturo Uslar Pietri: de renovador vanguardista a patriarca de la cultura nacional.” Iberoamericana (2001-) 1.4 (2001): 158–163.
  • —. “La palabra y el poder: Contradicciones de la palabra sometida en Oficio de difuntos, de Arturo Uslar Pietri.” Revista de Crítica Literaria Latinoamericana 7.14 (1981): 65–86.
  • Parra, Teresita J. “Perspectiva Mítica de La Realidad Histórica En Dos Cuentos de Arturo Úslar Pietri.” Revista Iberoamericana 52.137 (1986): 945.
  • Serrano, Arturo. “Úslar Pietri y el problema de la identidad en Medio milenio de Venezuela.” Araucaria (2001): n. pág.
  • Tejeda, Nelson O. “El primer libro de Úslar Pietri y la vanguardia literaria de los años veinte.” Revista de Crítica Literaria Latinoamericana 5.9 (1979): 135–139.
  • Tinoco Guerra, Antonio. “Arturo Úslar Pietri y el antipositivismo en Venezuela.” Utopia y Praxis Latinoamericana 15.48 (2010): 97–105.
  • Torres Iriarte, Alexander. “De la ejemplaridad creadora a la inagotable presencia: Bolívar en Mario Briceño Iragorry y Arturo Úslar Pietri.” Boletín de la Academia Nacional de la Historia (Venezuela) 89.356 (2006): 87–100.
  • Varela, Rafael. “‘Barrabas’ de Arturo Úslar Pietri y la crítica de su época.” Revista de Crítica Literaria Latinoamericana 5.9 (1979): 141–144.
  • Yoris-Villasana, Corina. “Dos relatos de Arturo Úslar-Pietri.” Araucaria 3.5 (2001): 0. Print.

See main article Critical Reception on Arturo Úslar Pietri.


See main article Works by Arturo Úslar Pietri.


  • Arráiz Lucca, Rafael. Literatura venezolana del siglo XX. Caracas: Editoral Alfa, 2009.
  • Arráiz Lucca, Rafael, y Edgardo Mondolfi Gudat, eds. Arturo Úslar Pietri: valoración múltiple. Caracas: Los libros de El Nacional, 2012.
  • “Biografía | Fundación Casa Uslar Pietri.” N.p., n.d. Internet. 9 Mar. 2016.
  • Bravo, Víctor. Diccionario general de la literatura venezolana. Caracas: Monte Ávila Editores, 2013.
  • Cadenas Silva, Rafael Augusto. Vida y obra de Arturo Úslar Pietri. Valencia: Universidad de Carabobo, 2002.
  • Pacheco, Carlos. Nación y literatura: itinerarios de la palabra escrita en la cultura venezolana. Caracas: Ed. Equinoccio, 2006.
  • Uslar Pietri, Arturo. Ajuste de cuentas: Conversación con Rafael Arráiz Lucca. Caracas: Los libros de El Nacional, 2007.
  • —. Nuevo mundo mundo nuevo. Ed. José Ramón Medina. Caracas: Biblioteca Ayacucho, 1998.