Trials and Tribulations of Ariel Dorfman

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Trials and Tribulations of Ariel Dorfman

In the late 1950’s Chile was fighting a political war. Ariel Dorfman wrote many stories and essays dealing with the political oppression. Ariel Dorfman was exiled from Chile because of his writings, and struggled with his writing in Paris. With ambitions to return to his country he became one of the most significant Hispanic writers in the 20th century.

Chile was going through a time of change. After the death of President Salvador Allende, Augusto Pinochet took over. Ariel worked for Allende and wrote many not so nice things about Pinochet. In 1973 Pinochet didn’t fire Dorfman, instead he just exiled Ariel from the country. After being exiled Dorfman went to Paris he came down with a case of writers block, which left him poor for a while. He eventually recovered and wrote many famous plays and poems. In one of his poems “He describes Latin America as an enigma a vibrant, sprawling, messy reality which did not itself know where it was or where it was going…a series of half-formed nations trapped in a history not of its own, trying to invent an alternative.” (Former Exiled Writer “Dorfman” 21)

Born on May 6, 1942 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Dorfman’s family was well aware of the horrors of war and the pain of exile, his Jewish grandparents fled the pogroms of Eastern Europe. At the age of two his family moved to New York City and he attended grade school there. When he was seven he began writing children’s fiction. He also expressed himself through painting. At the age of twelve he and his family moved to Chile where he completed his education, married, and in 1967 became a naturalized Chilean citizen. He attended graduate school in Berkley California in 1968 and 1969 and then he returned to Chile.

As an adult Dorfman worked as an activist, journalist and writer. Dorfman actively protested against political oppression in Chile. When Chile’s democratically elected Allende and his Marxist government were overthrown in a coup by Augusto Pinochet in 1973 he found himself in opposition to those in power. Following Allende’s death, thousands of politicians, intellectuals, clergymen and writers, of which Dorfman was one, were expelled from Chile.

Many famous and significant writings came from Dorfman. His writings include Windows, his Memoir Heading South Looking North: A Bilingual Journey, Death and the Maiden, along with many short stories and poems.

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