Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
José Gautier Benítez
His parents were Rodulfo Gautier and the well known Puerto Rican poet, Alejandrina Benitez de Gautier. His great-aunt was the poetist Maria Bibiana Benitez. Therefore, it was only natural for Benítez to be in constant contact with the world of literature and to develop a love for poetry at an early age. He was mostly influenced by the exponents of the Romantic poetry of the 19th century.
Benítez's father wanted him to take up a military career. In 1865, he was sent to a cadets school in San Juan, Puerto Rico. When he graduated, he went to Madrid, Spain where he continued his military education.
When Benítez returned to Puerto Rico from Spain, he found a job in the provincial government office. In 1873 he joined the Liberal Reformist Party. Benítez became a principal force behind the creation of the Ateneo Puertorriqueño. In 1878 he became the co-founder, along with his friend Manuel de Elzabura, of the Puerto Rican Review.
In 1878, he wrote the poem A Puerto Rico (To Puerto Rico), which was highly acclaimed by his contemporaries as one of his greatest works. A Puerto Rico also received an award from the Ateneo.
José Gautier Benítez died in San Juan, Puerto Rico, at 31 years of age. He was buried in the National Cemetery in San Juan.
Even though he wrote less than a hundred poems, his works were considered better in quality than the works of other Puerto Rican lyricists of the time. Benitez's verses, titled Poemas (Poems) were published posthumously in 1880. Among his works are: A Puerto Rico, Ausencia (To Puerto Rico, in Absenteeism), and A Puerto Rico, Regreso (To Puerto Rico, I've Returned).
Puerto Rico has named avenues and schools after Benítez. In the city of Caguas there is a high school and a housing project named after Benítez. The Municipal Island of Vieques honored Benítez by naming its public library the José Gautier Benítez Public Library. The sculptor Tomás Batista created a monument of Benítez which can be seen in Caguas.
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