Biography of Emilio S. Belaval (1903-1972)

Narrator, essayist, dramatist and Puerto Rican jurist, born in 1903 and died in 1972. Famous, above all, for its expertise in the difficult genre of the short narrative, is the author of some extraordinary stories that laid the foundations of the modern West Indian short prose and opened numerous aesthetic possibilities to several generations of contemporary storytellers.

Rather than as a writer, Belaval had been released by his profession of lawyer, a race in which reached some of the cimeros positions of the Puerto Rican judiciary (v. gr., judge of the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico); but their constant dedication to the world of laws not prevented him from cultivating rightly different literary genres that soon won him a deserved recognition in the intellectual landscape of his country, where he/she played an interesting work as a member of the so-called generation of the 30. Among the characteristics common to all the authors who made up this group of creators, it is required to enter a deep concern for the situation of Puerto Rico and an excessive interest in, each other, an agreement to establish the elements that configurasen the true Puerto Rican cultural identity. This Emilio S. Belaval was instrumental with the publication of some trials of as much importance as the titled "Problems of Puerto Rican culture" (1935); "The Puerto Rican intricacies" (diffused through the Mexico City newspaper El Mundo, during days 3, 8, 9, 10, 16 and 24 October; 4, 5, 12, and 13 November; and 2 and 13 December 1952); "Culture, nature and history" (appeared also on the Rotary World, on April 14, 1952); and "the essence of Puerto Rican culture: life, land and culture" (published in the newspaper on March 23, 1957). In general, all of these factual writings of Belaval can warn the concern of the author about the identity of his people, subjected to the powerful influence of the recent American colonization.

Under this identification between the authors of the generation of 30 and the social, political and cultural reality of his nation, critics agrees to point out certain ideological, methodological and thematic similarities between the literary group and the generation of the 98 Spanish. Particularly significant are these similarities in the theatrical production of Emilio S. Belaval, steeped in a reflective and essayistic varnish which, although called to delve into his intellectual concerns, lastra in excess the dramatic development of their works, to finish converting them into philosophical pieces aimed at a select, minority audience interested in theatrical rhetoric. In fact, in its double condition of essayist and playwright, Belaval theorized with rigor and depth about the made dramatic in his essay entitled the theatre as expression of our culture (1940) link, unanimously considered not only as a splendid collection of new literary ideas, but as the best theoretical embodiment of the spirit of the recent generation of 30reflected by an author who belonged to it in its own right.

In total, there are eleven theatrical works written by the eminent jurist: five of them are brief pieces, composed of a single act, and the remaining six consist of three acts each. Among all of them, were taken to a stage the titled death (San Juan de Puerto Rico: library of Puerto Rican authors, 1953), life (Madrid: Editions much, 1959), four winds Ranch (posted within the collective work entitled Puerto Rican Theatre [San Juan of Puerto Rico: Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña, 1959]), fallen sky (ibid., 1961) and Circe or love (Barcelona(: Ediciones Rumbos, 1963). In addition, the author - who had also been stage actor - wrote other works as a simple life (1935) novel, the dam of the victors (1939) and the port and the Sea (1965).

Several of these pieces enjoyed the favor of critics and viewers, but in no way served to report to the Belaval playwright the same prestige that had reached in his role as Narrator, always specializing in the cultivation of a short story in which magical realism, grotesque deformation, Baroque excess and a series of features specifically Americans (such as the tremendousness and tragic parody) form a variegated and suggestive worldfull of aesthetic possibilities and proposed, in the long run, as a starting point for the modern West Indian short narrative. Collected in three volumes that were seeing the light under the titles of the stories of the University (San Juan de Puerto Rico: library of Puerto Rican authors, 1935), stories to promote tourism (San Juan de Puerto Rico: library of Puerto Rican authors, 1946) and tales of the stronghold (Barcelona: Ediciones Rumbos, 1963), these stories of Emilio S. Belaval became one of the main reference stylistic and thematic of the young Puerto Rican prose writers, some of which, like Luis Rafael Sánchez, confessed to direct the work of Belaval debtors.


BOSCH, Juan. "Emilio S. Beleval, the storyteller of Puerto Rico", in Puerto Rico illustrated (San Juan), on July 20, 1940.

LUGO of MARICHAL, Flavia. Belaval and their stories to promote tourism (San Juan de Puerto Rico: Ed. Coqui, 1972).

SÁNCHEZ, Luis Rafael. "The theatre of Emilio S. Belaval", in Rev. Unnamed (San Juan de Puerto Rico), IV, 4, (April-June, 1974).

-: Myth and ideology in the story of Emilio S. Belaval (San Juan de Puerto Rico: Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña, 1979).