Translating the Nation: Gregorio Weinberg and the Rationalism of Argentinean Past

Francis Bacon and Domingo F. Sarmiento, Voltaire and Lucio V. Mansilla, Franz Boas and Jose Busaniche, Marcel Mauss and Jose C. Chiaramonte - these kinds of combinations were imbricated in the ideas and books edited by Gregory Weinberg (1919-2006). In the course of the second half of the 20th century, he translated and published dozens of texts which are arranged in three groups. First, a library of representative texts of Western rationalism. Then, a canon of works about his country. Finally, a series dedicated to Latin America. The first group was brought together in the mid-1940s in the Tratados Fundamentales (Fundamental Treatises) series of Lautaro publishing house. The second, in the El Pasado Argentino (The Argentinean Past) series, which from the beginning of the following decade was promoted through the Hachette publishing house first, then Solar (when the series was renamed Dimension Argentina - Argentinian Dimension) and Taurus in the last years of Weinberg’s life, already entered the present century (under the name Nueva Dimension Argentina - New Argentinian Dimension). The third, in the Dimension Americana series, was published during the 1960s by Solar. These are not three separate undertakings. In these sets of books (an unavoidable heritage of intellectual culture that is not only national), the substratum of the universal was the fertile soil where ideas were exhumed for the incessant duty of thinking about the country, again and again. But as an exponent of a reformist' lineage to which his vocation and mission must be associated, he thought that Argentina could only be understood as a variation of “an American culture”. Beyond the temporal gap, the different scope and reception of each series, the whole cycle (of Weinberg’s very life as a publisher) composed a movement of Argentinization (or Americanization) of the universal and universalization of the national (or American). My work seeks to articulate such “dimensions” or, rather, to re-establish the historical traces of a relationship that methodological nationalism will always tend to separate. I thus propose a dynamic object to understand one of the possible projects that in Argentine cultural history competed for the reformulation of national thought by means of universal patterns of culture. In the studies on “canons of Argentine thought”, the relationship that I illuminate works as a denial of the interdependence with other national cultures, a critical symptom that demands clarification.

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