Courtesy Reuters

South American Perplexities

THE Second World War has brought the countries of South America a feeling of concern and responsibility. It has turned their thoughts inward. The temporary silence of the cultural voices of Spain, France and Italy, the three nations which are closest to the soul of Ibero-America, has deeply affected the thinking people of the continent, while the collapse of France has bewildered them.

The influence of Spain has been strong among conservative elements in the South American countries ever since they became independent; and the authority of Spanish reformers at the end of the eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth centuries kept it alive among liberals as well. Spanish influence declined during the second half of the nineteenth century. But in the twentieth it reasserted itself and became stronger than ever. There has, however, been one important difference in this renaissance of Spanish culture and Spanish intellectual prestige in South America; the greatest contributions of Spain in this century have been to the liberal, democratic and humanitarian conceptions of life.

Spain has also been responsible for carrying much of the culture of Germany to Ibero-America. During the past forty years most Spanish scientific workers have been educated, directly or indirectly, in Germany; and their transfer to South America, in turn, of what they had learnt in Germany has undoubtedly added to German prestige and influence. German romanticism, neo-Kantism and spiritual vitalism have been enormously influential in Spain. They have not only been spread through all that country, but recently through Hispanic-America as well, by the academic authority of the Madrid publishing firm, Revista de Occidente, and its director, José Ortega y Gasset. It would be hard to exaggerate the part which that firm and the philosopher who guides it have played in the intellectual life of Ibero-America, and in particular of Argentina, during the past 25 years. The personal standing of Ortega has made him the literary and philosophical educator of several generations. He always has followed the line of German

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