Biography of Alberto Masferrer (1868-1932)

Writer, journalist and freethinking Salvadoran politician, born in Tecapa (the current joy, in the Department of Usulután) on July 24, 1868, and died in San Salvador on September 4, 1932. For his relentless work in the mainstream American media, coupled with quality and depth reflective of his literary writings, he/she is considered one of the most influential figures in the intellectual landscape Salvadoran late 19th century and early 20th.

His childhood came marked by the dark origins of birth, since it was "natural son" of a Salvadoran citizen and Leonor Mónico, a Spanish based in El Salvador, Enrique Masferrer, who, at first, refused to recognize it as own stem. Subsequently, Enrique Masferrer agreed to recognize his paternity and took her home to the young Alberto, who might as well have access to an early education.

Indeed, he/she had the fortune of studying their first letters in the school of Jucuapa, city which, at present, constituted one of the most flourishing cultural centers in the country, and was the birthplace and home to major Salvadoran intellectuals. At the age of ten, Alberto Masferrer was moved, by parental decision, to San Salvador, where he/she was enrolled in the prestigious College who had founded the French pedagogue Agustine Charvin. But after five years of studies in the Salvadoran capital, in 1883 he/she was sent by his father to Guatemala, in retaliation for having refused to comply with a punishment imposed by his father. Acts like this they announced already decided and independent character of the young Alberto, which with the passage of time would be setting up a dense literary and journalistic work, marked by its force when it comes to denouncing social injustices.

Shortly after having arrived to Guatemala, the future writer escaped from custody that his severe father had submitted and walked for some time wandering by that country, Honduras and Nicaragua, where he/she arrived turned into hawker. Soon after, decided to take advantage of his painstaking academic training, began to make a living practicing teaching in the Nicaraguan Department of Rivas, from where was sent to the island of Ometepe that he/she imparted lessons at the presidio there rising. After accumulating some teaching experience, he/she got transferred to San Rafael de el Sur, where he/she assumed the leadership of the school's male.

But his spirit restless and adventurous - present, more than ever, in this juvenile stage of its existence - not allowed him to sit too long in front of the advantageous position that had managed to deal with. In 1885 he/she moved to Costa Rica, where he/she stayed just one year, and in 1886 returned to his native country to practice teaching in El Carrizal, where he/she lived for three years. Little by little, his name was sounding firmly among the most outstanding teachers for the vast Central American territory, which in 1889 allowed him access to the post of director of the aforementioned School of Jucuapa, in which own Masferrer had received his first lessons.

From then on, in his tight biographical happens a bright relationship of services rendered to the Salvadoran Government. Already become a figure of weight within the cultural areas of the country, in 1890 he/she was appointed Deputy School Director in Sensuntepeque and Archivist of the largest accounts in San Salvador; two years later, he/she assumed the leadership of the official journal, and, after eight years at the forefront of this kind of "BOE" Salvadoran, in 1900 became Secretary of the National Institute, a post he/she abandoned a year later, when he/she was appointed consul of El Salvador in Buenos Aires (Argentina). Introduced, thus, in diplomatic circles of his country, he/she held on the Salvadoran consulates in Santiago de Chile (1902), San José de Costa Rica (1907) and Antwerp (Belgium, 1910); but not abandoned why his dedication to teaching, because between these two latest consular terms he/she served as inspector of public instruction (1908). The relationship of its innumerable activities performed in the service of his compatriots would be incomplete if it does not pick its functions, as a delegate from El Salvador, at the Conference of the Hague (1912); their status as collaborator in the second scientific Congress held Washington (United States of America) in 1915; his work as Adviser to the Ministry of public instruction and, among other many official positions, his appointment as director of the Ixeles Institute (1916).

However, the name of Alberto Masferrer was best known among his contemporaries thanks to his literary writings and his frequent appearances in the media highlights of the country. In 1923 it became one of the writers of the newspaper El día, and in 1928, in the company of writers and journalists Alberto Trigueros war and José Bernal, founded in San Salvador the Rotary homeland, where took charge of the publishing section and applauded column titled live. His journalistic work published in this journal were compiled over several years by the poet and literary critic Pedro Geoffroy Rivas, and published by the Publishing House of the University of El Salvador. Also, Alberto Masferrer also shone with force as a journalist in Chile, where, under the pseudonym of "Lutrín", he/she signed a humorous column that appeared in the Rotary El Chileno, de Santiago, and El Mercurio of Valparaíso.

As writer, gave to the press pages (1893), nothings (1900), essay on the political development of El Salvador (1901), cuts (1908), the new ideas (1910), what should we know? (1913), reading and writing (1915), thoughts and forms (1921), a life in the movies (1922), Vulture became calandria (1922), essay on the destination (1926), the seven strings of the lyre (1926), cursed money (1927), essays and representations about the life of Jesus (1927), Helios (1928), the universal religion (1928), the minimun vital (1929), the book of life (1932) and leaves rose (1935)It appeared three years after his death. It is not surprising that this copious literary production worth him a seat in the Salvadoran Academy of language, where he/she held the Chair N, instead of the poet and military Juan José Cañas.

In the last years of his life, Alberto Masferrer was actively involved in the politics of his country, taking part in favour of the candidate Arturo Araujo, who, elected President in 1931, was immediately overthrown by the coup of general Maximiliano Hernández Martínez. This violent circumstance plunged writer and journalist freethinking in bitter disappointment that was exacerbated by their health problems and exhaustion that caused him a trip to Guatemala. Returning to El Salvador, much diminished, of faculties, he/she died in the nation's capital on September 4, 1932.


RODS-DINARTE, Carlos. School dictionary of Salvadoran authors (San Salvador: National Council for culture and art [CONCULTURA], Directorate of publications and printed materials, 1998).

J. R. Fernández Cano.