10 junio, 2024

Julio Zaldumbide Gangotena: biography, works and influence

Julio Zaldumbide Gangotena He was an outstanding poet, with a preference for romanticism, classical works and neoclassicism. He is without a doubt one of the most important figures of 19th century Ecuadorian literature.

He devoted himself completely to the literary world and came to write prolifically. He did it in different genres and styles, such as stories and sonatas, without neglecting poetry.

His main literary references came from neoclassicism and romanticism. Both currents of the first half of the 19th century, which originated in Europe and quickly gained significant space in Latin America. This region was just beginning to create its own history in the field of literature.

Julio Zaldumbide’s literary works have also transcended time, something that can be affirmed without fear of being wrong. His creations provided a foundation on which to begin to grow a whole new generation of Ecuadorian writers and poets. Zaldumbide was deeply influenced by his work.



Julio Zaldumbide Gangotena was born on June 5, 1833 in Quito, the capital of Ecuador. He was the son of Ignacio Zaldumbide, a man of high social class. Young Julio spent his childhood and early youth in a comfortable environment, where his love for the arts, literature, and the social sciences was encouraged.

His mother was the aristocratic Felipa de Gangotena, while his father, Ignacio Zaldumbide Izquierdo, was a prominent politician and military man who did his best to provide his son with an adequate education.

Although he was killed in combat when his offspring was only one year old, Julio’s father was a very important figure throughout his life. From him he inherited his love for the republic and the social sciences.

In addition, his father profoundly influenced his political ideas and his ambitions for wanting to be part of the Ecuadorian government.


Julio Zaldumbide was an outstanding student, appreciated by his teachers, highly intelligent. Although he suffered from certain physical limitations, since he had a weak physical constitution and his health was always delicate. However, this did not stop him from training.

Later, he was able to enter the university to study Law, although he quickly abandoned this project and devoted himself completely to his vocation as a writer. By the time he turned twenty, Zaldumbide was already a figure recognized by the Ecuadorian writers and poets of the time.

The writers of these tendencies that had the most influence on Zaldumbide were the Spaniards Tomás de Iriarte and José Iglesias de la Casa, both from the neoclassicist current. While due to romanticism, he was influenced by Enrique Gil Carrasco, José de Espronceda, and his contemporary, Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer.


Julio Zaldumbide Gangotena died in Quito, the city where he was born, in 1887, shortly after turning 54 years old. His life, always blamed for illness, was a display of personal rectitude, academic vocation and civility, as well as love for the country and culture.

Admirers of his work, along with students, friends and family, took it upon themselves to keep his literary legacy alive. Therefore, Zaldumbide, to this day, continues to be a central figure in the history of Ecuadorian culture.


Zaldumbide’s writings are an ode to love, happiness, sadness, nostalgia, and the environment close to nature with which he was always closely related.

Her poems and writings grapple with ideas that are complex, intriguing, exciting, haunting, significant, and most of all, compelling.

That does not necessarily mean that his work has been an ode dedicated to conflict, war, politics or the great social theories of his time. Even the smallest moments can convey big truths.

And when it came to his poems, the writer was not afraid to explore deeply to find the beauty that is hidden in the everyday, in the close, in the daily routine.

The Ecuadorian always did his best to find the best way to convey his ideas. Poets have many options available to them: they can rhyme or not rhyme, and Zaldumbide knew how to make use of these options.

Characteristics of his works

His works can follow a repetitive rhythm or not. They can span entire pages or be surprisingly short.

At the time of writing, Zaldumbide was not thinking of the critics, or even of his future readers. His poetry has as its main characteristic its sense of realism: nothing that he put down on paper is fanciful or distant. Everything is real, it is daily, it is the experience of his time turned into well-done poetry, and therefore, into art.

Zaldumbide knew how to capture in his writings what tormented him, as well as what he loved or missed. As an accomplished poet, he managed to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary, with a precise and neat vocabulary. All this supported by a thirsty mind for good literature, willing to create their own.

Zaldumbide was also one of the main founding members of the Ecuadorian Academy of Language. This is the cultural institution with the longest history in the South American country, a subsidiary of the Royal Spanish Academy.

His most notable works were: The Evening Star, A María, A Soledad del Campo, Trova, América y España, Al Dolor, Al Sueño and El Bosquecillo.


Currently, he is one of the most studied characters in literary history in Ecuador and all his works are in the public domain, since more than a hundred years have passed since his death. Almost all of them can be found relatively easily on the Internet.

During his life, Zaldumbide stood out for being a convinced patriot, as he had an immense love for his native country. This strong patriotic feeling led him to meddle in politics.

He achieved some recognition in this union, although he was not chosen to hold any position of high importance, but at the time he managed to be a deputy.

It is said of his person that he was a man of good manners, finely educated, possessing a mind as creative as critical.

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