The volume under review is a re-edition of a book published originally in 1929 under the same title. A brief prologue by the Argentine dramatist and critic, Edmundo Guibourg, has been added to the present edition. The study resembles a catalogue of the dramas and comedies presented on the Buenos Aires stage between the late 1880s and the early 1920s with critical comments on many of the plays. There is, unfortunately, precious little synthesis, thus yielding a book which is more useful to the critic of literature whose methodological bias is historical than it is to the cultural historian.

Bosch argues that the “national theater” of Argentina existed for generations before the beginning of what he calls its third era in the mid-1880s. This argument runs counter to that of some critics, notably Ricardo Rojas, who contend that the adaptation of Eduardo Gutiérrez’ story, Juan Moreira, to the stage in 1884, and interpreted by José J. Podestá, marked the beginning of a truly “national theater.” Bosch would have the reader believe that it was the transformation of such gaucho figures as Juan Moreira into characters more reflective of the changing Argentine rural scene that made the era around the turn of the century distinctive and significant in the development of the Argentine theater.

The popularity of the period’s early dramas was based, in large measure, on the theme of the gaucho fleeing from an unjust, uncompromising law representing both the social and political elite and the city. But the gauchos were little more than memories by the turn of the century, victims of the process of economic change (was it development?), and no longer meaningful figures in the national social fabric. On the stage these changes were reflected in the production of such plays as Calandria (1896) by Martiniano Leguizamón and Martín Coronado’s La piedra de escándalo (1902), that were more subtle portrayals of Argentine rural life.

Unfortunately, the book is dull. It is too detailed and too long, the constant plot summaries of obscure plays too repetitive and uninteresting. For the cultural and social historian the study is not very helpful. For example, there is little on that remarkable Podestá family so central to the theater of that epoch, nothing on how the theater operated, who paid the salaries, how high or low they were, or who went to the theater. One can only conjecture about the relationships between the social, political, and economic forces of turn-of-the-century Argentina and the changes in the style of drama they produced. Although it was not the purpose of Bosch to address himself to these questions, I offer this comment to the historian who might pick up this volume in hope of finding something that is not there.