Ariel Dorfman : biography
Vladimiro Ariel Dorfman (born May 6, 1942) is an Argentine-Chilean novelist, playwright, essayist, academic, and human rights activist. A citizen of the United States since 2004, he has been a professor of literature and Latin American Studies at Duke University, in Durham, North Carolina since 1985.
Background and education
Dorfman was born in Buenos Aires on May 6, 1942, the son of Adolf Dorfman, who was born in Odessa, Ukraine and became a prominent Argentine professor of economics and the author of Historia de la Industria Argentina, and Fanny Zelicovich Dorfman, whose roots were Romanian-Moldovan Jews. Shortly after his birth, they moved to the United States and then, in 1954, moved to Chile. He attended and later worked as a professor at the University of Chile, marrying Angélica Malinarich in 1966 and becoming a Chilean citizen in 1967. From 1968 to 1969, he attended graduate school at the University of California at Berkeley and then returned to Chile.
Since the restoration of democracy in Chile, in 1990, he and his wife Angélica have divided their time between Santiago and the United States.
Dorfman's work often deals with the horrors of tyranny and, in later works, the trials of exile. In an interview in BOMB Magazine, Dorfman said, "I'm constantly trying to figure out how you can be true to an experience which in fact very few people in the world would understand, such as having most of your friends disappear or be tortured, and at the same time finding a way of telling that story so other people in other places can read their own lives into that." His most famous play, Death and the Maiden, describes the encounter of a former torture victim with the man she believed tortured her; it was made into a film in 1994 by Roman Polanski starring Sigourney Weaver and Ben Kingsley. Dorfman identified "the stark, painful Chilean transition to democracy" as Death and the Maiden's central theme.Berman, Jenifer. . BOMB Magazine. Winter 1995. Retrieved 25 July 2011. The play received a 20th anniversary revival in the 2011-2012 season at the Harold Pinter Theatre in London's West End, directed by Jeremy Herrin and starring Thandie Newton, Tom Goodman-Hill, and Anthony Calf.
His thesis on the absurd in plays of Harold Pinter was published in Spanish as El absurdo entre cuatro paredes: el teatro de Harold Pinter (The absurd within four walls: the theater of Harold Pinter) by Editorial Universitaria, in Santiago, Chile, in 1968 (124 pages).Ariel Dorfman, . Santiago, Chile: Editorial Universitaria, 1968. WorldCat. OCLC: 1400001. Web. 9 Jan. 2009. Pinter later became a personal friend as well as an influence on Dorfman's work and political thinking. cf.
A critic of Pinochet, he has written extensively about the General's extradition case for the Spanish newspaper El País and other publications, and in the book Exorcising Terror: The Incredible Unending Trial of Gen. Augusto Pinochet. Rather than distinguishing between politics and art, Dorfman believes "that one’s writing is deeply political," and, at its best, "engages the major dilemmas...of the community."
Dorfman's works have been translated into more than 40 languages and performed in over 100 countries. Besides poetry, essays and novels— Hard Rain, winner of the Sudamericana Award; Widows; The Last Song of Manuel Sendero; Mascara; Konfidenz; The Nanny and the Iceberg, and Blake’s Therapy—he has written short stories, including My House Is on Fire, and general nonfiction including The Empire’s Old Clothes: What the Lone Ranger, Babar, and Other Innocent Heroes Do to Our Minds. He has won various international awards, including two Kennedy Center Theater Awards. In 1996, with his son, Rodrigo, he received an award for best television drama in Britain for Prisoners in Time. His poems, collected in Last Waltz in Santiago and In Case of Fire in a Foreign Land, have been turned into a half-hour fictional film, Deadline, featuring the voices of Emma Thompson, Bono, Harold Pinter, and others.
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