AGUINIS, MARCOS (1935– ), Argentinean writer. Born in Cordoba, Argentina, Aguinis received a Ph.D. in neurosurgery, studied psychoanalysis, and worked as a therapist while devoting himself to literature. Following the democratization process in Argentina (1983), Aguinis became a highly regarded intellectual engaged in public affairs as well as in the local Jewish community. During the first government after the military regime, he was elected undersecretary of culture; two years later he was appointed personal counselor to President Alfonsin, with a rank equivalent to undersecretary of state. For many years Aguinis was also a councilor in the daia . Aguinis' books deal with Jewish themes: Crypto Jews, the Holocaust, antisemitism, Christianity, and the struggle for democracy and cultural pluralism in Argentina. His most famous historical novel, La Gesta del Marrano (1992), deals with Francisco Maldonado de Silva, a Converso physician who lived in Concepción (Chile) and was burned at the stake in Lima in 1639. The book was conceived as a paean on freedom, reaching a broad audience because it dealt with the common fate of Jews, converts, blacks, and indigenous people in the Spanish Catholic Colonial America. Drawing on historical events of the Nazi era, the novel La matriz del infierno (1997) ranges from the rise of National Socialism in Germany to the nationalist and authoritarian political culture of Argentina during the 1930s. It emphasizes the cultural and spiritual contradiction between Nazism and the Jewish outlook as well as the attitude of the Christian Church to the Holocaust. While in his early novel La Cruz Invertida (1970) Aguinis contrasted sharply the position of the progressive priests affiliated to the Latin American liberation theology movement and the conservatism of the Church hierarchy, in La matriz del infierno almost all the Argentinean priests are silent about Hitler's crimes. This novel contributed to the critical debate among Christians and members of other creeds on the hypocrisy and contradictory attitude of the ecclesiastic hierarchy. Aguinis' later novel Los Iluminados (2000) deals with globalization and U.S. fundamentalist groups and their connection to international drug trafficking. Other literary works of Aguinis deal with central contemporary issues in Latin America, such as the problem of violence and Argentine authoritarianism. La conspiracion de los idiotas (1979) is an incisive criticism of the Argentinean military mind and its obsession with conspiracy theories. Written towards the end of the last military dictatorship, it tells the story of an allegedly subversive colony of handicapped and Downs Syndrome patients, alluding to the paranoid prejudices of the authoritarian figure who believes in imaginary enemies. Aguinis wrote two courageous letters addressed to an unnamed general in essay form: Carta esperanzada a un General (1983) after the Falkland War and Nueva carta esperanzada a un General (1996). Both books analyze the circumstances in which Argentineans made their transition to democracy. Among other books that focused on Argentina's plight are Cantata de los diablos (1972), Un pais de novela. Viaje hacia la mentalidad de los argentinos (1988), and Elogio de la culpa (1993). Aguinis' fiction and essays attempt to demythologize history and memory; surprisingly his first novel, Refugiados (1969), conceived before the Six-Day War, gave early and keen insight into the Israel-Palestine conflict; on the other hand, the characters of his short stories collected in Operativo Siesta (1978) and Importancia por contacto (1983) move through biblical tales and Jewish history in search of identity. Aguinis fiction and essays, based primarily on ideas, address a broad audience by exploring the emotions, sensibilities, and behavior of Jews and non-Jews alike. In many cases, the most compelling characters in his literary oeuvre symbolize the plight of Argentina and of the Jews in its midst. (Leonardo Senkman (2nd ed.)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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