José Domingo Gómez Rojas

07 December 2016 - 14:44

At first sight, Raymond Craib’s The Cry of the Renegade, Politics and Poetry in Interwar Chile, is a biography of the anarchist poet José Domingo Gómez Rojas (1896-1920). 

Weeks of violence in July 1920 in Santiago were marked by the imprisonment of many anarchists including Gómez Rojas, who  was tortured and died in prison.

At second sight, Craib has written a lively history of anarchist students and workers and their daily struggle against…., in the eyes of a contemporary critic, Gómez Rojas rebelled against everything: "grammar, literature, poetry, society, civilization" …. Some lines from the poem "Renegación" (The Cry of the Renegade) do substantiate this assumption:

‘But oh, on my forehead I wear a gory stain
It is a red stain, it is a mocking affront,
It is the legacy of the century: civilization!
Two-faced lie, ignominious outrage
Rather than civilized I would like to be savage
To wash my forehead of all execration…’(p 136)

The author dedicates his book to Marcelo Segall Rosenmann, who came to work at the IISH in the 1970s and brought along his vast archive: "at the IISH, I found an impressive collection of materials in the archive of an historian who, in the wake of Chile’s 1973 coup d’état, had been imprisoned, tortured, and eventually exiled from his home in Santiago…hopefully this book will serve to bear witness to his labors and to the fact that no archive is made in vain."

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