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In this interesting article, Manuel Ugarte, who was quite well known in Latin American modernist circles, discusses a speech that Jean Jaurès gave at the Porte Saint-Martin Theater in Paris that was introduced by Anatole France. Ugarte is surprised by the socialist (or Communist, a term he seemingly uses as a synonym) nature of the speech, during which Jaurès confidently states that authors of the magnitude of Richard Wagner, Victor Hugo, and Puvis de Chavannes found the true vision of their greatest works in collectivist doctrines. Jaurès mentions François-Émile Babeuf, Charles Fourier, and Karl Marx as the foundations of several masterworks. Ugarte is charmed by the coarse style and country-peasant bearing of Jaurès, who was the head of the French Socialist Party of France and in fact, came from a family belonging to the countryside bourgeoisie. He also appreciated Jaurès’s beliefs, which were aimed at convincing artists to abandon frivolous art and explore themes that might accelerate “the advent of the free and harmonious life of Communist society, in which art will be scattered about the world like pure bliss.” The author of the article quotes a moving intervention by Anatole France, as well as other remarks by Jaurès that are very close to the beliefs of John Ruskin and William Morris with regard to the imperative of transferring the artistic sphere to the sphere of everyday life.
Despite its brevity, this text by the Argentine writer and politician Manuel Ugarte (1875–1951) is one of the few from this period that reveals an adherence to socialist ideals—in this case, by commenting on a speech by the French socialist politician Jean Jaurès (1859–1914). It is no coincidence that this piece appeared in Revista Moderna (1903-11), which had extremely open-minded attitudes and views. It seems to be an antecedent worth noting with regard to the socialist visions of art (utopian or materialist) that began to circulate starting in the 1920s.