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An Intellectual Biography of Alberto Gerchunoff

In this intelectual biography, I reread the complete works of journalist and writer Alberto Gerchunoff (1884-1950) in order to resituate him within the intellectual networks in which he participated and which include international cosmopolitan networks of publication and intellectual intervention in order to situate him in the intellectual framework in which he participated and which included cosmopolitan international networks of publication and dissemination in Spanish, English and Yiddish. In spite of the fact that Gerchunoff is a recognized figure in the Argentinean cultural world, the only work of his that has received critical attention is his opera prima The Jewish Gauchos published on the occasion of the 1910 centenary, and his role as a bridge between the Argentinean intellectual elites and the world of Jewish culture. In this biography, I present Gerchunoff as a bridge figure that functioned as a cultural translator for the first generation of Jewish intellectuals born in Argentina, and also for the Argentinean elite who through Gerchunoff found out about a wide body of European Jewish literature that included texts from Eastern and Central Europe and the Iberian peninsula. Moving the focus of attention to what in the first half of the twentieth century was considered “Jewish literature” and that included figures as different as Shalom Ash, Heinrich Heine, Max Nordau y Marcel Proust, a new cartography of Argentinean cosmopolitanism can be drawn out. Gerchunoff was a key presence in the cultural, social, and political world of Argentina during the first half of the twentieth century. Born in the Russian Pale in 1884, he arrived in Argentina in 1889, spent his childhood in the Jewish colonies of the Argentinean Littoral, and later on in Buenos Aires. By the age of 20 he was the director of a newspaper in Rosario, and was also teaching at the high school level. He was a reporter for the prestigious newspaper La Nación and he was the founder and first director of the newspaper El Mundo. He was a frequent collaborator in magazines and newspapers all over the Americas. He travelled to Germany on a diplomatic mission. He published eighteen books, and hundreds of articles. He was an advocate for the Spanish Republic, and he was a critic of US intervention in Central America, and apartheid in South Africa. During the last two decades of his life he was an indefatigable fighter against Nazism, and after World War II, he travelled all over the Americas garnering support for the creation of the State of Israel.