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TORRES, TEODORO, JR.

TORRES, TEODORO, JR. (1888–1944).  Teodoro Torres, novelist, journalist, humorist, and historian, was born in Villa de Guadalupe, San Luis Potosí, Mexico, to Teodoro Torres, Sr., and Emilia Flores de Torres, on January 4, 1888. Torres’s family encouraged his enjoyment of reading, and as a child he had the benefit of a sizable family library. He attended primary school and later enrolled at the Seminario Conciliar de San Luis Potosí. Torres began his career as a journalist during the early years of the Mexican Revolution. He married Soledad Torres on January 8, 1913, and soon afterward the two emigrated from Mexico to the United States in order to escape the turmoil resulting from the revolution.

Torres and his wife subsequently settled in San Antonio, Texas, and lived there for more than nine years. While in San Antonio, Torres continued to develop his skills as a journalist and worked at the Spanish-language newspaper, La Prensa, for renowned publisher Ignacio E. Lozano. Starting as a Spanish translator of local English news stories, Torres subsequently worked his way up to writing his own stories and eventually became the directing editor for La Prensa. While working under Lozano, Torres helped develop and promote the idea of el México de afuera, a Mexican exile ideology that advocated maintaining the Spanish language, keeping the Catholic faith, and shielding children from the negative effects of assimilation into Anglo-American culture.  

In June 1917, during World War I, Torres registered for the draft but was never called to service. The 1920 United States census listed Torres, thirty-two years old, working as an editor and living with his wife and a three-year-old daughter in San Antonio. The entry also recorded the immigration year for Torres and his wife as 1913.

While in exile, and as a result of his relationship with Lozano, Torres began to publish his first book-length works in San Antonio. His first book, Como perros y gatos: o, Las aventuras de la seña democracia en México (Casa Editorial Lozano, 1924), was published under his pen name “Caricato,” and took a humoristic perspective on the history of the Mexican Revolution. In 1925 Torres published his second book on the history of the Mexican Revolution, entitled Pancho Villa: Una vida de romance y de tragedia (Casa Editorial Lozano, 1925); the work focused on one of the revolution’s central figures.

Torres and his wife had two daughters and a son (according to a 1924 Mexico-United States border crossing permit, one of the children was born in the United States). The family returned to Mexico for a brief period, between 1921 and 1923, before ending their long exile and returning permanently to Mexico in 1925. Once resettled in Mexico City, Torres began to work as a journalist and editorial director for some of the nation’s most important periodicals of the time, including Excelsior, México al Día and Revista de Revistas

In 1935 Torres published La patria perdida (Ediciones Botas, 1935), a novel which explored the experiences of the Mexican exile community in Texas and the American Midwest in the wake of the Mexican Revolution. Met with critical acclaim on both sides of the U.S.-Mexican border, La patria perdida followed the life of Luis Alfaro, a former officer in the Mexican Federal Army, who left Mexico and immigrated to the United States with his wife Ana Maria. The couple established a successful hacienda, known as Buenavista, outside of Kansas City, Missouri; however, the two continued to long for the land of their birth and dreamed of returning one day to Mexico.

Widely considered the founder of the first school of journalism in Mexico, Torres published his textbook on journalism, Periodismo (Ediciones Botas, 1937), two years after the release of La patria perdida. On September 24, 1941, Torres was inducted as a Mexican representative to the Spanish Royal Academy. He wrote his treatise, Humorismo y sátira (Editora Mexicana, 1941), in commemoration of this significant professional achievement. In 1942 he was elected chairman of the Mexican Academy of Letters.

Teodoro Torres died of complications from diabetes in Mexico City, on September 26, 1944. Just days before his death, he published his last book, Golondrina (Editora Mexicana, 1944). Considered by some to be his masterpiece, Golondrina was the second of Torres’s novels to explore the effects of large-scale Mexican immigration to the United States. In Golondrina, Torres painted the picture of the tragic social, cultural, and economic effects of depopulation on small rural communities in Mexico due to immigration. Eulogized by his colleague Ray Temple Houge in a book review of Golondrina, Torres was remembered as a man who “loved his profession as he did his family.” 

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Eladio Cortés, ed., Dictionary of Mexican Literature (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1992). Carlos González Peña, Historia de la literatura Mexicana (Mexico City: Editorial Porrua, 1966). Nicolás Kanellos with Helvetia Martell, Hispanic Periodicals in the United States, Origins to 1960: A Brief History and Comprehensive Bibliography (Houston: Arte Público Press, 2000). Betty Marie McCann, Notes on the Works of Teodoro Torres (M.A. thesis, Ohio State University, 1947). 

Ethriam Cash Brammer

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Handbook of Texas Online, Ethriam Cash Brammer, "Torres, Teodoro, Jr. ," accessed October 23, 2017, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fto59.

Uploaded on March 31, 2016. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.