Biography of Claudio González Rucavado (1878-1928)

Narrator, journalist, educator and Costa Rican lawyer, born in San José in 1878 and died in 1928. Author of a brilliant narrative production which, despite its extreme brevity, immediately reached the higher levels of literary quality in Costa Rica at the beginning of the 20th century, is considered - along with other great storytellers of his generation, like Jenaro Cardona and Joaquín García Monge- as one of the founders of the Costa Rican novel.

Man accused of humanistic vocation, only cultivated literary creation in his youth years, to later devote itself to other professional activities that, like teaching, journalism and literature, became one of the outstanding heads of public and cultural life of their nation. Your date of birth and the period in which was dedicated to the writing of fiction, Claudio González Rucavado belonged rightfully to the first generation of writers of costarriquenas letters, a group of authors that inserts in the process of forging and consolidation of national identity, they sought within his artistic work specific keys that allow to speak also of literary signs common to all writers who shared that Central American territory. In the midst of this vast transformation process, the writer of San José reflected in his work, changes from the postulates of economic liberalism and philosophical positivism, was experiencing a society anchored in the ballast of traditionalism, and at times endeavouring to identify these local ancestral traits with those hallmarks that desperately sought. In this situation of permanent conflict, discussed between the dilemma of assimilate the innovations introduced by the implementation of agrarian capitalism and economic liberalism or cling to those moral values, economic and artistic past that seemed to guarantee a true national identity, the costarriquena at the beginning of the twentieth century society was perfectly reflected in three novels and stories that volume, entire literary work, the printing press gave Claudio González Rucavado.

Within these aesthetic and ideological postulates that defined the literary contribution of all the members of his generation, the specific work of the narrator of San José is characterized by his evident tilt toward the mix of genres and styles, and, in general, by its eclectic nature, open to the assimilation of the various elements. Thus, between pages written by González Rucavado are indelible footprints picture costumbrista (genre present in the works of all those authors who forged the national literature), but also certain heeled realism toward social criticism, of ancient and traditional didactic prose that does not hide his eagerness to moralizing, essay reflection oriented towards the ideological debate of the time, etc. Logically, this tendency to eclecticism produced some results that can not hide its dependence of this didactic intention that has guided the author from the time to write their works; and so, the internal coherence of the narrative (both the plane plot as in the construction of the characters who star in it) is always subject to the ideological or moral purpose of González Rucavado.

The first installment narrative of the writer of San José, published under the title of the son of a gamonal (San José: printing register and Pujol, 1901), contributed to the costarriquenas letters an archetype that would provide an amazing performance in the narrative of the Central American country during the first half of the 20th century: the charismatic character of the rich and powerful peasant (someone similar to the regular chieftain in numerous regions of the nineteenth-century Spain) thatthe story of González Rucavado, leave their natural habitat and moved to the big city where all the transformations caused by economic liberalism, with the purpose of using their power and their local influences to benefit also of the political changes taking place. In the literario-didactica vision of the narrator of San José, this performance of the gamonal constitutes a kind of transgression of the prevailing order for centuries, so the moral cannot be more emphatic: the abandonment, by del gamonal, from its traditional field of power leads inexorably to his spiritual uprootedness and social annihilation.

Five years after the emergence of this novel (considered, as already noted in paragraphs earlier, as one of the foundation stones of the national narrative), Claudio González Rucavado returned to the shelves of the libraries with a second novel entitled Costa Rican scenes (San José: printing Alsina, 1906). Work of strange and chaotic structure, this new novel by the author of San José also focuses on traditional compatriots and the figures that populate the agricultural sector of the country, although a perspective less aware of social criticism than the one adopted in the gamonal son. Thus, in the first part of this disorganized narrative triumphs customs in all its glory conventional, with a series of presentations and descriptions of environments, characters and forms of expression that do not bring nothing new to the narrative which were then forging other authors interested in the same topics as González Rucavado; However, in the second part the novel gave an abrupt turn and penetrated along the path of psychological introspection, to analyze the peculiarity of the passionate love affair of Quirco, a farmer who in his desperate attempt to attain the love of its Patron Saint, plunges to the more turbid hondones of the human condition (like crime, witchcraft and madness).

After the publication of this second novel, Claudio González Rucavado gave printed a collection of his short stories, published under the title of yesterday: trifles (Id. ID., 1907). Focused then on other activities claiming his professional attention, did not publish a work of fiction to last seven years, when he returned to the shelves of bookstores with selfishness...? (ID. ID., 1914), novel that it did not provide any novelty of his brief but interesting literary previous interest.


ALVARADO QUIROS, Alejandro: "in praise of González Rucavado", in American Repertory (San José), XVII, 12 (1928), p. 184.

BAUDRIT, Fabio: "Claudio González Rucavado", in American Repertory (San José), XLII, 19 (1946), p. 296.

HENCHOZ, Carlos: Praise: Claudio González Rucavado, San José: Imprenta Alsina, 1930.