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Juan Rulfo

Juan Rulfo

One of the most esteemed authors from Spanish America, Juan Rulfo was a Mexican novelist, short story writer and also a photographer. He is acknowledged mainly for two books. One of which is El llano en llamas (1953), a collection of short stories, 15 of these stories have been translated into English and appeared in The Burning Plain and Other Stories which also includes his much famed tale, Diles que no me maten! (Tell Them Not to Kill Me!). The second book is the novel, Pedro Páramo (1955), after which Rulfo did not write another novel. His photography works are archived at the Juan Rulfo Foundation which bears more than 6000 negatives of his photographs.

Although Rulfo was not a very productive author, writing only two books, he is still considered one of the finest writers of the 20th century creating an impact and inspiring many other Latin American authors such as Gabriel García Márquez. Rulfo began writing during the 1940s and published his collection of short stories entitled El llano en llamas at the age of 35. The stories were a depiction of the harsh realities of life, showing the world to be a cruel place to live in. They were set in rural Mexico during the times of the Mexican Revolution and Cristero Rebillion. The best liked story of this collection, Diles que no me maten! (Tell Them Not to Kill Me!) revolves around an old man who is to be executed whose prison guard happens to be the son of the man he killed. Another story of much interest to readers is ¿No oyes ladrar los perros? (Don’t You Hear the Dogs Bark?) about a man desperately trying to find a doctor with his wounded son on his back.

Pedro Páramo (1955), Rulfo’s second book is a novel based on a man, Juan Preciado who travels to his hometown to find his father where his mother has recently died but finds nothing but a ghost town. At first the book sold only two thousand copies with a neutral response but later became a highly acclaimed contribution to Mexican literature.

Before becoming a writer, Juan Rulfo co-founded the literary journal, Pan in 1944. He also became director of the editorial department of the National Institute for Indigenous Studies and also served as an advisor to young budding writers at the Centro Mexicano de Escritores (Centre for Mexican Authors).

Juan Rulfo was born in in Sayula, Mexico on May 16, 1918. He was raised in the town of San Gabriel, Jalisco by his grandmother after the death of his parents. He studied 6 years of elementary education and graduated as a bookkeeper after a special seventh year. After moving to Mexico City, he entered the National Military Academy only to leave after 3 months. He worked as an immigration clerk at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México where he wanted to studied law but was unable to do so.

Juan Rulfo spent the last years of his life in Mexico City where he died on January 7, 1986.

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