Artificial Respiration

Artificial Respiration

Latin America in Translation/En Traducción/Em Tradução

More about this series

Book Pages: 240 Illustrations: Published: March 1994

Author: Ricardo Piglia

Translator: Daniel Balderston

Literature and Literary Studies > Fiction

Acclaimed as one of the most important Latin American novels in recent decades, Artificial Respiration is a stunning introduction for English readers to the fiction of Ricardo Piglia. Published in Argentina in 1981, it was written at a time when thousands of Argentine citizens "disappeared" during the government’s attempt to create an authoritarian state. In part a reflection on one of the most repressive and tragic times in Argentine history, this is one of those rare works of fiction in which multiple philosophical, political, and narrative dimensions are all powerfully and equally matched.
As a prize winning detective novel, Artificial Respiration reaches through many levels of mystery to explore the forces that have been at play in Argentina throughout its violent history. The narrator, a writer named Renzi, begins to look for an uncle who has vanished, a man he knows only through a web of contradictory family stories and an exchange of letters. Through these letters he learns about his uncle’s research into the life of Enrique Ossario, secretary to the 19th-century Argentine dictator Rosas and spy for the dictator’s enemy. As Renzi’s search leads further into his uncle’s work and to conversations with his literary and chess-playing friends, the reader is led by Piglia to consider the nature of Argentine identity, its literature and history, and its relation, for example, to Europe, exile, and democracy. Finally, and made most vividly appreciable by the retelling of a story in which Kafka meets Hitler, it is the encounter between literature and history that is explored.


Artificial Respiration is intellectually explosive, artistically refreshing and aesthetically ambitious. . . . Not since Julio Cortazar’s Hopscotch has a book from south of the border offered such [a] shocking reassessment of Hispanic history and collective identity.” — Ilan Stavans , The Nation

"Sometime ago I wrote in the New York Times Book Review that it was a shame that Artificial Respiration by Ricardo Piglia, one of the most important Latin American novels of the last decade, was unavailable in English. Now it can finally be read, enjoyed, and celebrated by readers in this country. It will be an intellectual experience you will never forget" — Ariel Dorfman


Availability: Not in Stock
Price: $25.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Ricardo Piglia currently lives in Argentina and is the author of three novels and a collection of short stories, for which he won the Casa de las Américas Prize. Artificial Respiration is his first book in English. His other books have been translated into Portuguese, French, Italian, and German. Daniel Balderston is Professor and Chair of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at Tulane University and author of Out of Context: Historical Reference and the Representation of Reality in Borges, also published by Duke University Press.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Introduction 1

If I Were the Dark Winter 5

Descartes 101

Notes 217
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

Rights and licensing
Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-1414-1 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-1426-4
Publicity material