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Alberto Blest Gana.
Alberto Blest Gana (May 4, 1830 – November 9, 1920) was a Chilean novelist and diplomat, considered the father of Chilean novel. Blest Gana was of Irish and Basque descent.
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He was born in Santiago, the son of an Irishman, William Cunningham Blest, and of María de la Luz Gana Darrigrandi, from an aristocratic landowning family. He studied at the Military Academy and then for one year in France.
A liberal, Alberto Blest was named intendant of the province of Colchagua and starting 1866 he was Chilean diplomatic representative at Washington, London and Paris. Among his successes were the inclusion of Chile in the Universal Postal Union and the purchase of armament for Chilean troops during the War of the Pacific. He also participated at border negotiations with Argentina, but with a less important role than his previous activities.
Blest Gana passionately read the novels of Honoré de Balzac. Upon his return home, he virtually founded the Chilean novel by adapting European techniques to some ten novels portraying various aspects of national history and life. Of these, the most important is Martín Rivas (1862), which describes the career of a young man during the 1851 political revolt. Abundant local color and social criticism accompany the action of the novel. Although these elements of description are not brought to life and fused with the plot in the manner of Balzac, the novel achieved great success as the first realistic portrayal of Chilean life. After its publication, Blest Gana entered the diplomatic service and was Chilean ambassador to France and Britain for many years. Other novels of this first period are The Arithmetic of Love (Spanish: La aritmética del amor) (1860) and El ideal de un calavera (The Rake’s Ideal, 1863).
Upon his retirement from diplomacy, Blest Gana returned to writing novels. Strongly influenced by his reading of the new masters of the form, he produced his best work. Four novels from this second period of creative activity are Durante la reconquista (During the Reconquest, 1897), Los transplantados (The Exiles, 1904), El loco Estero (Estero the Mad, 1909), a