The founding of the National Library in Montevideo in 1816 came about as the country came to be. In fact, the code word among the freedom fighters was the phrase “Sean los orientales tan ilustrados como valientes”, which can be loosely translated to “May the [Uruguayans] be as learned as they are brave. Nowadays, Uruguay has one of the highest rates of alphabetization at 97%.
The poet Isidore-Lucien Ducasse (a.k.a. The Comte de Lautréamont) was born on April 4, 1846 in Montevideo, in a house across the street from the City Cathedral.
The Public Library for Children, Biblioteca Infantil "María Stagnero de Munar," is one of the first of its kind in Latin America and was named after Stagnero, a autodidactic teacher who was unable to receive any formal education until the age of 12 but managed to fund the first institute for “young ladies” to study.
Cafés have historically been key focal points of literary creation, from the start of the 20th century. Habitués such as the playwright Florencio Sánchez and other figures of his time and later decades gather to write and exchange views. In 1917 Roberto Firpo played the world-known tango piece composed by Gerardo Mattos Rodríguez, “La Cumparsita”, for the first time in one such street café.
Montevideo’s carnival is the longest one in the world, lasting an entire 40 days.
Mundial Poético is a city classic, supported by Montevideo City of Literature, joining a vibrant international group of poets representing 21 countries in a series of readings, performances, recitals, viewing of documentaries, book presentations and writing workshops.
Feria Internacional del Libro, the International Book Fair, is the largest book festival in the country, spanning two weeks of book presentations, talks, workshops and other book events. Supported by Montevideo City of Literature, it is a unique opportunity for audiences to buy books, meet authors and enjoy the City Council venue.
FILBA internacional en Montevideo takes place in parallel in its home city (Buenos Aires) and Montevideo, delving into literature, cinema , music and visual arts in an extremely interactive format that seeks to bring readers and writers together in dialogue. Offering poetry slams, book clubs and musical performances, the festival incorporates a variety of artistic languages while putting emphasis on a greater interaction between authors and readers.