José Hernández (1834–1886) was born on a farm in Buenos Aires Province, Argentina, on November 10, 1834. During his youth he lived on a cattle ranch in the southern part of that province, where he familiarized himself with life in the Argentine Pampas, and particularly with that of the gaucho.
"The two poems which, together, are popularly known as the Martín Fierro form what is often regarded as the greatest single Spanish American work in creative literature. Appropriately, it draws from Spain the language and verse forms which have long been the vehicle of improvisation, the didactic folk wisdom of old Spanish proverbs, the Spanish interest in law whether formally codified in the fueros and the Siete Partidas or informally mocked by the pícaros in its practical application, and the Spanish emphasis upon individual worth and independence. Even more directly, the Martín Fierro is national in feeling, portraying the Argentine rural scene and the social aspirations, institutions and events of a great transition period of Argentine history. … Rooted in Spain, Argentine in content, universal in interest, the Martín Fierro is one of the world's great books and should be more widely known abroad. … This edition is improved by the availability of original and translation on facing pages." — Madaline W. Nichols in Inter-American Review of Bibliography
Included in CHOICE's selection of Outstanding Academic Books of 1968–69.