Ernesto Sábato was born in Rojas, a provincial town of Buenos Aires Province, on June 24, 1911. One of 11 children of immigrant Italian parents, he received secondary anduniversity training in La Plata, the provincial capital. Receiving a university degree in physics in 1937, he worked on a scholarship at the Joliot-Curie laboratory in Paris in 1938 and at the MassachusettsInstitute of Technology in 1939. In 1939 he published a professional paper on his specialty, cosmic radiation. From 1940 to 1945 he taught at the University of La Plata but was forced to resign by thePerón dictatorship as politically undesirable.
As a student, Sábato had been deeply involved in protest against the corrupting military manipulation of the country, and after discarding anarchismas a philosophy he became a leader of the Communist party's youth movement. In 1935 he attended the international Antifascist Congress in Brussels but refused to go to Moscow for indoctrination. Aftermany months of traumatic self-examination in Paris, he broke with the party and returned to Argentina. To a degree, he remained a political iconoclast thereafter.
Simultaneously, Sábato becamemuch interested in philosophy and literature. He credited Pedro Henríquez Ureña, the noted Mexican philosopher and writer, who was his teacher, with being the greatest early influence in his life. Sábatoread with extraordinary breadth and increasingly skimped on his scientific work. By 1938 he already was doubted by his professional colleagues to some extent, and his expulsion from teaching in 1945therefore was not a shock except to family income.
Sábato endured the Perón dictatorship through work for publishers and writing essays and articles. In 1955, when Perón fell, Sábato became...