July 31, 2014
Jorge Gaitán Durán
Jorge Gaitán Durán (Columbia)
Born on February 12, 1925, in Pamplona, Norte de Santander, Columbia, Durán was the son of a civil engineer and a mother—daughter of General Justo L. Durán—who graduated from the Provincial College of St. Joseph.
As a young adult, Durán traveled to Bogota to be studies at the Faculty of Engineering at National University of Columbia, but studied there only two semesters. 1942 he determined to change his career to law, moving to the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana. During this period he began to work as a film and literature critic. He also became friends with several poets such as Fernando Charry Lar, Fernando Arbelaez, and Alvaro Mutis, writers connected with the “Cuadernícolas,” a group of writers of the late 1940s that published in Revista Semana (Weekly Magazine). During this period Durán himself published two collections, Insistencia en la tristeza (1946, Insistence of Sadness) and Presencia del hombre (1947, Presence of Man).
On April 9, 1948, after the murder of the liberal political leader, Jorge Eliécer Gaitán, whom Durán had supported, he and a colleague, Jorge Zalamea, took over the Columbia National Radio Station in order calm the masses and to organize a new intellectual revolution. The young poet was charged with sedition, and he was forced to take refuge in Cucuta.
After surviving a murder attempt and finally absolved of blame, Durán left for Europe in 1950. He traveled extensively throughout Europe, becoming deeply involved with the cultural movements of the time, particularly in existentialism and Marxism. For much of this time he lived in Paris, attending cinema courses at the Institut de Hautes Etudes Cinématographiques, as well as attending lectures by Maurice Merleau Ponty at the Collège de Drance. During these years he also met Dina Moscovici, who became his wife. Durán also traveled to Asia, encounter figures such as Nazim Hikmet and Mao Tse Tung. In Spain he met poets José Manuel Caballero Bonald and Vicente Aleixandre, whom he would later invite to contribute to his magazine Myth.
After a brief stay in Brazil in 1954, the poet returned to Columbia to found, with the Colombia critic, Hernando Valencia Goelkel, the review Mito (Myth), which published numerous Colombian and Latin American writers from 1955 to 1962. Through this journal Colombian intellectuals protested against restrictions to freedom in Columbia and others parts of the world. Among his most controversial essays was “Contemporary Sade,” published in 1958.
Both as a now important editor and as a university professor, Durán became a major force in Colombian literature, replacing Gabriel García Marrquez on the newspaper El Espectador, publishing book and film reviews and a regular coloumn, “In and Out,” on various topical subjects relating to national politics and foreign affairs.
In 1956 Durán published his renowed Diario de Viage. And in 1959 another book of poetry appeared, Amantes. In 1961, Durán wrote the libretto of an opera, Les hampones, with music by Luis Antonio Escobar; the opera was performed in Bogotá that year. By February 1962, Durán had become such a famed writer that Eduardo Carranze led a national homage to homage to the poet, timed with publication of his collection, Si mañana despierto.
Later that year Durán traveled to Paris. On his return journey, on June 22, 1962, the plane on which he was traveling crashed, killing him.
Critics often characterize Durán’s work as being highly linked to the erotic, particularly given his interest in Sade, George Bataille, and others. Durán wrote of himself: “Sometimes I feel that only the tremulous sun of desire and of pleasure can rise and shine for an instant in the ethical night of modern life.”
The poet also wrote works of fiction and collections of essays on art and film.
BOOKS OF POETRY
Insistencia en la tristeza; poemas (Bogotá: Editorial Kelly, 1946); Presencia del hombre (Bogotá: Ediciones Espiral Colombia, 1947); Ausencia (1949); Amantes (Bogotá: Fundación Simón y Lola Gubarek, 1964); Si mañana despierto (1962); Poemas de la muerte (Bogotá: Ediciones Tercer Mundo, 1965); Obra literaria; poesia y prosa (Bogotá: Instituto Colombiano de Cultura, 1975)