Ocampo, Victoria

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Ocampo, Victoria

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  • Ocampo Aguirre, Victoria

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Born in Buenos Aires in 1890, Victoria Ocampo came from an Argentinian high-society family. In 1916, aged 26, she met José Ortega y Gasset who had a great influence on her. Virginia Woolf, to whom she later dedicated a study, also inspired her to become a writer.
In 1931 Ocampo founded the review Sur (the title of which was suggested to her by Ortega y Gasset). Writers from all over the world collaborated in the review, the editorial board included, among others: Pedro Enriquez Ureña, Alfonso Reyes, Ortega y Gasset, Jules Supervielle, Guillermo de Torre, Waldo Frank, Jorge Luis Borges, and Eduardo Mallea. The review published works by young literary talents as well as major authors of the time, such as: Breton, Camus, Claudel, Caillois, Eluard, Gide, Malraux, Maritain, Romain Rolland, Saint-John Perse, Sartre, Valéry, Graham Greene, Huxley, Shaw, Jorge Guillén, J. R. Jiménez, Heidegger, Herman Hesse, Thomas Mann, Croce, Ungaretti, Michaux, Asturias, Octavio Paz, Faulkner, Saroyan, Steinbeck, etc. The review’s history continued until 1970 and played a significant role in spreading international literature in the Latin American world.

Ocampo formed long friendships with a number of writers and intellectuals, such as Français Pierre Drieu La Rochelle, Jules Supervielle, Roger Caillois, Rabindranath Tagore, and the Spaniards Jorge Luis Borges et Federico García Lorca. From 1935 Ocampo published her memoirs in ten volumes (1935–1977) in which she recounts her various encounters, alongside numerous novels: La Laguna de los nenúfares (1924), Supremacía del alma y de la sangre (1933), Domingos en Hyde Park (1936), San Isidro (1941), Habla el algarrobo (1959). Victoria Ocampo décède en 1979.

“There is no authentic national culture, only authentic international culture”, declared Ocampo to those who accused her of being too preoccupied with foreign literature. This internationalism marked the life and the work of the Argentinian writer, but also her commitment to the Organisation of Intellectual Cooperation. In May 1939, she was appointed a member of the International Committee on Intellectual Cooperation (ICIC).

After the war, she remained a public intellectual, giving lectures and receiving honorary degrees in various countries. She donated her Buenos Aires villa to UNESCO in 1973 for, as she wished, “promotion, research, experimentation and development of activities related to culture, literature, art and social communication, which are aimed at improving the quality of human life.”


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International Committee on Intellectual Cooperation

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Victoria Ocampo was a member of the ICIC.

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Created by Marie Caillot 01/11/2011. English translation by Jan Stöckmann 11-08-2015.




  • UNESCO Archives, Archival Group 1 : IICI/2/7. IICI. "Europe, Amérique Latine. Buenos-Aires, septembre 1936". Paris : IICI, "Entretiens", 1937. Victoria Ocampo citée par Alfonso Reyes (p. 18) et Pedro Henríquez Ureña (p. 47).
  • UNESCO Archives, Archival Group 1 : IICI/01. IICI. Coopération intellectuelle, n°99-100, mars-avril 1939, "Nouveaux membres de la CICI", p. 782.
  • Sesé, B. "Victoria Ocampo (1890-1979)". Article de l'Encyclopædia universalis. Retrieved from: https://www.universalis-edu.com/encyclopedie/victoria-ocampo/# Accessed 1st November 2011.
  • Renoliet, J.-J. (1999). L'UNESCO oubliée. La Société des Nations et la coopération intellectuelle (1919-1946). Paris : Publications de la Sorbonne. P. 185.
  • http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0007/000748/074814eo.pdf#46718

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