Victoria Ocampo

Victoria Ocampo

Victoria Ocampo (Buenos Aires, April 7, 1890 - Buenos Aires, January 27, 1979) was an Argentine intellectual, described by Jorge Luis Borges as "la mujer más argentina" ("the most Argentine woman"). Best known as an advocate for others and as publisher of the magazine "Sur", she was also a writer and critic in her own right.

She was born in Buenos Aires and was educated at home by a French governess. She would later write, "the alphabet-book in which I learned to read was French, as was the hand that taught me to draw those first letters." []

She is sometimes said to have attended the Sorbonne: on page 39 of her biography of VO, Doris Meyer states that, during the family's 1906-1907 trip to Paris, the same during which she was etched by Helleu, the Ocampos allowed 17-year-old Victoria, "well-chaperoned", to audit some lectures at the Sorbonne and at the Collège de France. She remembered particularly enjoying Henri Bergson's lectures at the latter. She was not, of course, ever matriculated at either; her very old, traditional and rich family frowned on formal education for females, and so Victoria had none.

In 1912 Ocampo married Bernando de Estrada (aka Monaco Estrada). The marriage was not happy, and in 1920, the couple separated, and Ocampo began a 13-year affair with her husband's cousin Julián Martinez, a diplomat. []

In Buenos Aires, she was a lynchpin of the intellectual scene of the 1920s and '30s. Her first book, written in French, was "De Francesca à Beatrice" (1923?), a commentary on Dante's Divine Comedy; other works include "Domingos en Hyde Park"; "El Hamlet de Laurence Olivier"; "Emily Brontë (Terra incógnita)"; a series called Testimonios (ten volumes); "Virginia Woolf, Orlando y Cía"; "San Isidro"; "338171 T.E. (Lawrence of Arabia)" (a biography of T. E. Lawrence) and a posthumously published autobiography. There is also an edited book of dialogues between Ocampo and Borges.

Perhaps of greater significance than her own writing, she was founder (1931) and publisher of the Argentine magazine Sur, the most important literary magazine of its time in Latin America. Among the writers published in "Sur" were Jorge Luis Borges, Ernesto Sabato, Adolfo Bioy Casares, Julio Cortázar, José Ortega y Gasset, Manuel Peyrou, Albert Camus, Enrique Anderson Imbert, José Bianco, Santiago Davobe, Ezequiel Martínez Estrada, Pierre Drieu La Rochelle, Waldo Frank, Gabriela Mistral, Eduardo Mallea, Silvina Ocampo (her younger sister), Alfonso Reyes, and Enrique Pezzoni.

In 1953, Ocampo was briefly imprisoned for her open opposition to the regime of Juan Domingo Perón. Like many other anti-Peronists, notably including Borges, she was friendly to General Jorge Rafael Videla's "de facto" military regime that ruled Argentina in the 1970s; she was made a member of the Argentine Academy of Letters in 1976 (the first woman ever admitted to the Academy; she formally took her seat June 23, 1977). The "cultural dialog", initiated in 1977 by the "de facto" government but organized by UNESCO, was held in her home, Villa Ocampo, in San Isidro, Buenos Aires Province; she eventually donated the house to UNESCO. Personalities like Igor Stravinsky, André Malraux and Rabindranath Tagore had been her guests there.

Victoria Ocampo is buried in La Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires.


*Meyer, Doris: "Victoria Ocampo: Against the Wind and the Tide" ( Texas Pan-American Series paperback, University of Texas Press Reprint edition, 1990) Originally published New York, George Brazillier, 1978. Re-issue ISBN 0-292-78710-3.
*Dyson, Ketaki Kushari: "In Your Blossoming Flower Garden: Rabindranath Tagore and Victoria Ocampo" New Delhi, Sahitya Akademi, 1988; reprinted 1996. ISBN 81-260-0174-7.

External links

* [ / Victoria Ocampo's Project]
* [ Victoria Ocampo's Chronology]
* Ketaki Kushari Dyson, [ On the Trail of Rabindranath Tagore and Victoria Ocampo]

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