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UC Berkeley Press Release

Luis Monguió, emeritus professor and expert on Latin American poetry, dies at 97

– Luis Monguió, an emeritus professor in the University of California, Berkeley's Department of Spanish and Portuguese who was an authority on Latin American poetry and a former diplomat, died July 10 at his home in Clifton Park, N.Y., after suffering from cancer and pneumonia. He was 97.

Some of Monguió's best-known works include "César Vallejo," a monograph on the life and work of one of Latin America's most important poets, and " La poesía postmodernista peruana," a book in which he traced the currents of poetry in Peru between 1915 and 1953. He also published a book on 16th century Peruvian poets, another on José Joaquín de Mora, and wrote some 60 articles.

Monguió was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1952.

He was invited to deliver a Bernard Moses Memorial Lecture at UC Berkeley in 1977, and explored the early references to a separate identity in Peruvian writings from the 16th century until 1821, when the country declared its independence from Spain.

The National University of San Marcos at Lima, Peru, awarded Monguió an honorary professorship in 1971 for his "outstanding work on authors and movements in the literature of Hispanic America, and in particular that of Peru."

Monguió was born in Tarragona, Spain, and earned a licenciate in law at the University of Madrid in 1928. He also studied philosophy, languages, and literature there and elsewhere.

He served in the Spanish Diplomatic and Consular Service from 1930 to 1938, working in Madrid and Valparaiso, Chile, as well as in Mazagan and Fez, both in Morocco. He was awarded the Knight's Cross, Order of Civilian Merit, for his service in 1931.

During the Spanish Civil War, he joined the Army of the Spanish Republic, serving briefly as a private from February to April of 1938.

Monguió then returned to the Spanish Diplomatic and Consular Service from April 1938 to March 1939, working in Morocco and Gibraltar.

In 1939, he came to the United States with his wife, Helen Arnett Monguió, who died in 1977. Luis Monguió first came to UC Berkeley in 1940, working as a teaching assistant in Spanish until 1942. He taught Spanish at Mills College in Oakland in 1942 and 1943, before being drafted into the U.S. Military Intelligence Service during World War II.

Monguió became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1944, and returned to Mills as a professor of Romance languages from 1946 to 1957.

He joined the UC Berkeley faculty as a professor of Spanish in 1957 and remained until his retirement in 1975, when he reached UC's then-compulsory retirement age of 67.

But John Polt, an emeritus professor of Spanish who worked at UC Berkeley with Monguió, said his former colleague continued to teach intermittently until he reached his early 90s.

In addition to teaching at UC Berkeley, Monguió taught, after his retirement, at Bennington College, the University of Arizona, and State University of New York at Albany.

Polt recalled Monguió's dedication to his profession and to his department, where he regularly taught some of its most important undergraduate and graduate courses and served as a graduate adviser and as chair.

"Graduate students flocked to his courses, and he worked them very hard," said Polt. "He was a delightful person, very kind, very considerate, and he had a great sense of humor - full of jokes and anecdotes. He was always ready to help a student or a colleague, and he went to great lengths to do so. But he could be quite the sergeant, like in the Army."

Monguió was a member of the Modern Language Association of America, American Society for Aesthetics, American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese, and International Institute of Ibero-American Literature.

He is survived by his second wife, Alicia de Colombí Monguió, of Clifton Park, N.Y.