Horacio Quiroga, "The Dead Man"

A man falls on his own machete and ponders his impending death as it impends.

(from The World of the Short Story)

Still…? Still not two seconds passed: the sun is at exactly the same altitude; the shadows have not advanced one millimeter. Abruptly, the long-term digressions have just been resolved for the man lying there; he is dying.

Interesting, thoughtul and a total downer. Not much in the way of surpises. He’s just curled up with a machete sticking out of him. I mean, he’s in a comfortable position besides that, but yeah. He’s dead meat.

According to the book’s brief bio, Horacio Quiroga (born in Uruguay, lived in Argentina) wrote about death all the time. And his best friend accidentally shot himself. And his father, stepfather and wife killed themselves. Quiroga killed himself, too. All this death writing and actual death presents us with a real chicken/egg scenario. Gotta figure he was a goth in high school.

INXS, “Never Tear Us Apart”

4 thoughts on “Horacio Quiroga, "The Dead Man"

  1. Jo Mama

    You’re slightly mistaken in regards to the presence of death in Quiroga’s life.

    1.) His father was ACCIDENTALLY shot in a hunting accident.

    2.) His mother did not kill herself.

    3.) His stepfather *did* kill himself, after a brain tumor left him an invalid.

    While it is true that Quiroga killed himself (through cyanide), you might also mention that his first wife took poison as a means to end her life (though it took several days of agony). After Quiroga’s death, his son Darío and his daughter Eglé also killed themselves (though, obviously, not at the same time).

    The presence of death in the Quiroga’s work is not the focus, but rather a side-effect of the indifference of “la naturaleza” (nature) that confronts man from all sides.

  2. Anonymous

    Quiroga actually killed his closest friend by accident. He was exonerated by the authorities and left for Buenos Aires to live with his sister. In 1936 he was operated on for prostate cancer and later committed suicide.

  3. Anonymous

    Quiroga’s work has functional elements which deals with naturalism and most of all “criollismo”. Also you can see the influence of Dario’s modernism. The death, in his work, is caused by the surroundings, in this case the jungle – Misiones, where he lived part of his life. Also, the juxtaposition of death and time creates the agony of the story- which can be seen in this story and in “A la deriva”.

  4. Anonymous

    Read it again… put the facts together. Time does not seem to move, everything around him is still at all times and it is just another NORMAL day will all lead you to the real occurrence behind this tale… he is dreaming.


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