Héctor Bianciotti, the son of La Pampa

Héctor Bianciotti, the son of La Pampa

Although he is not the most famous Argentine writer, he managed to enter the French Academy.

Hector Biancotti

Declared “Immortal” in 1996, in other words, member of the French Academy… a nice revenge for this son of Italian immigrants born in a lost corner of Argentine Pampa in 1930. His childhood was lived alone and that is when he wrote Lo que la noche le cuenta al día (What night tells the day), one of the autobiographic novels: “For a long time I just knew one world, the most austere and ambitions nature that could exist: a soil with endless extensions that ignores the attractiveness suggested by the word ‘scenery’ […]”.

His parents were farmers from Piamonte who “had even excluded from their nearest surrounding the only family from Calabria because they were from Southern Italy”; his parents were those that prohibited the mother tongue and made their children only speak the language of the sheltering country: Spanish. Eager for reading, fascinated by what was happening in the city through the magazines, Héctor Bianciotti chose the only possible way to continue his studies: the minor seminar.

Hector Bianciotti, The nostalgy of God house (2003)

At the end of his stay with Franciscanos de Moreno, he realized he lacked religious vocation and left the novitiate in search of profane books. The dazzle caused by Paul Valéry was what made him start studying French. He started modestly earning his living as a memorial-maker, then as an internship with a notary, he settled down in Córdoba and then in Buenos Aires in 1951, while dreaming about other destinations. “Buenos Aires keeps in me the color of the fear present when I first arrived…”, under peronista regime.

In 1955 he exiled. First to Italy, then to Spain with Franco. He was looking for a part in theaters, he didn’t eat enough, he accumulated “small temporary jobs and shameless salaries”, he lived endless hours, such is how he described it in El paso tan lento del amor (The slow passage of love).


In 1961, Héctor Bianciotti arrived in Paris and the next year he started working for Gallimard. In 1969, he devoted to literary journalism working for “La Quinzaine littéraire”, and later for Le Nouvel Observateur and le Monde.

He also wrote theater pieces, novels, short re-telling in Spanish and since 1982 in French, a year after having adopted the citizenship. “Somnambular and in the path of smuggling, I moved from my childhood language to that of my chosen country. […] After fifteen year, I usually heard voices in French in my dreams. Five years were to come before unconsciously writing the first page of a novel in French.”

His writing career was then launched and recognized. In 1977 he received the Médicis Award for foreigners for El tratado de las estaciones (The treaty of the seasons) and in 1983 the award for the best foreign book for El amor no es amado (Love is not loved); in 1985 he received the Fémina Award for the first French novel: Sin la misericordia de Cristo (Without Christ’s misericordy); for his work in 1993 he received the Príncipe Pierre de Mónaco Award and, in 1994 the French Language Award. He was finally crowned with the appointment as member of the French Academy in 1996.

Héctor Bianciotti died in Paris the 12th june 2012.