Virginia Grutter

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Virginia Grütter (born Virginia Teresa del Carmen and Inés, Puntarenas, Costa Rica, 20 April 1929 – 3 March 2000) was a Costa Rican writer, actress and theatrical director.[1][2]


Born on 20 April 1929 in the province of Puntarenas, in the southwest of Costa Rica. She was daughter of Lía Jiménez Guido and Mariano Valenzuela, who she never knew. Shortly after her birth, her mother married Rolando Grütter Graff, a German that had arrived to Costa Rica escaping the European crisis of the period. From then on Virginia adopted the surname of her stepfather.

Her primary studies were in the city of Puntarenas, where she also studied German. When she was still a girl, her parents decided to travel to Hamburg to meet with the family of Rolando; there Virginia would experience her first contacts with the Nazism. The family also visited Milan, Venecia, the Tirol and Austria, where finally they discovered that Germany had declared war to Poland. This caused an abrupt familiar separation: Virginia took refuge together with her mother in Génova, whereas her father had to escape to the Soviet Union and afterwards to Japan. The family reunited in Costa Rica in 1941, when the government of Rafael Ángel Calderón Policeman began to pursue German resident citizens in the country; Rolando soon was apprehended and sent to a field of prisoners in Texas.

On her return in Costa Rica, Virginia restarted her high school studies, a period marked by disobedience, punishments and her first meetings with writing. Afterwards, in 1942, at thirteen years, she decided to travel with his mother to North America to reunite with her father. Once there, the three were exchanged for other civil prisoners and shipped to Europe. The family crossed the Atlantic, Portugal, Spain and France before finally settle in Saarbrücken, in the bordering zone between the territory Frenchman and Germany. Shortly after Virginia was sent to Freudenstadt to finalized her secondary studies, however was expelled from the school for not having pure German blood. Her last months in the European territory represented the end of the war, but also the suffering of famine that only finished with the family moving to Munich as refugees; later they cross back to France, and finally to Panama to return to Puntarenas.

Virginia married the first of three husbands and gave birth to three children; and she went to the university and studied art, literature and philosophy. She worked during for a decade in Cuba as director of theater and opera; also, the emergent theatrical scene in Costa Rica led her to create, along with Jean Moulaert, of the Theatre Harlequin, situated in the city of Saint José. Also she gathered efforts and mobilized more than five hundred intellectuals to demand the foundation of a state publisher, something that would com to be in 1959 with the creation of the Publisher of Costa Rica. Some years later, her fodnness for the dramatic arts would take her back to Germany, where she became part of the Berliner Ensemble, the legendary company of theater founded by Bertold Brecht.

On return in America, Virginia married Carlos Pérez Vargas, publicista and Chilean leftist militant. Nevertheless, in 1974, after the coup d'état of Augusto Pinochet, Carlos became prisoner and was never heard of again. Virginia used all political and diplomatic mechanisms to try recover her husband. Her efforts, as the ones of so many other Chilean women, were useless. After this, Virginia had to undertake another long fight to free his daughter Liana, captured in Nicaragua during the regime of Anastasio Somoza, and was recover after the sandinist victory. From then on she was militant with the leftist movement in Costa Rica, for this reason her literary production was censored for several decades.

In her last years of life, Virginia worked as a professor of theatrical appreciation in the University of Costa Rica. She died on 3 March 2000, after suffering a respiratory failure. Five years before her death, in 1995, she had starred in a documentary that summed up some events of her life and part of her work. The film, titled "Virginia Grütter: stronger that the pain", was directed by the German film-maker Quinka F. Stoehr and presented in Costa Rica two years later.

Literary work

The literary productions of Virginia Grütter belong to the generation of the Second Republic, developed mainly in the decade of 1950. This generation inaugurated a new period in Costa Rican Literature, which was strongly influenciado by some historical facts like the Second World War and the Revolution of 48 in Costa Rica. The lyric of this period characterized by her subjectivity, as well as by the research to the social complaint, the erotic thematic and the trasformaciones of the modernity.

The writings of Grütter move away from the metric tradition, the strict versificación gives her a step towards poetry more prosaica and closer to the daily language. Also evidenced is the taking of sexual speech by means of the exploration of the body and eroticism, an appearance that till recently was only in hands of men. It shows ideological and political influence, the existential crisis of being modern and the alienation of the subjects in front of a world with increasingly less communication and vain.

Said thematic is keep up in the two novels with which Grütter encorached into narrative: The friends and the wind and Missing, both stories possess a clearly autobiographical stratum. In the first of them, Grütter speaks on her experiences in Nazi Germany, her life in the war and the form in that this deshumanizes individuals. In Missing she exposes the problemsduring the Chilean dictatorship. The whole of this text is inspired by the disappearance of his husband Carlos under the military dictatorship of Pinochet. Likewise, it highlights the contribution of the Costa Rican dramaturgy with the foundation of the Harlequin Theatre, space that represented an important support for the development of the dramatic arts in Costa Rica.


  • "Give me your hand" (1954).
  • "Poetry of this world" (1973).
  • "Cradle songs and of battle" (1994). Áncora Prize of Literature in 1996.


  • "Friends and the wind" (the original title was "Boris") (1978).
  • "Missing" (1980).
  • "Singing to my time: memories" (1998).


  1. Sommer, Doris. "Poets on the Battlefield." The Women's Review of Books 5, no. 10/11 (1988): 17-18. doi:10.2307/4020349.
  2. Campos, Jorge Blanco. "PROYECTO PARA UNA HISTORIA SOCIAL DE LA NARRATIVA DE COSTA RICA." Ibero-amerikanisches Archiv, Neue Folge, 13, no. 1 (1987): 15-28.
  • Grutter, V. (1998). Singing to my time: memories. Saint José: Publishing Women.
  • Monge Meza, C.F. (1984). The separate image: ideological models of the poetry costarricense, 1950–1980. Saint José: Institute of the Book, MCJD.
  • Quesada Soto, To. (2010). Brief history of the literature costarricense. Saint José: Publisher Costa Rica.
  • Ugalde, And. (2010). Virginia Grutter. In: Club of Books. Recovered on 25 September of the 2012:
  • Víquez Guzmán, B. (2009). Virginia Grutter Jiménez. In: the Literary art and his Theory. Recovered on 25 September of the 2012:

External links

  • Poems of Virginia Grütter in the official place of the National Institute of the Women of Costa Rica:
  • Poems of Virginia Grütter in the program Further of the syllable, poetic anthology costarricense. Of the State University to Distance of Costa Rica:[1]
  • Technical index card of the film "Virginia Grütter: stronger that the pain" in the official place of the film-maker Quinka F. Stoehr:[2]

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