Arturo Fontaine T. (Talavera) was born in 1952 in Santiago de Chile. He studied philosophy at Columbia University and at the Universidad de Chile.
Fontaine is considered a significant representative of the »Nueva Narrativa Chilena«, which evolved from the »Generación del Boom« storytellers, who embraced magic realism. He made his debut with the volumes of poetry »Nueva York« (1976; tr. New York) and »Poemas hablados« (1989; tr. Spoken poems). His first novel »Oír su voz« (1992; tr. Hear your voice) not only met with critical acclaim but also remained on Latin American best-seller lists for forty-six weeks. In the tradition of the great novels of the nineteenth century, he sketches a profound and critical portrait of Chilean society. With the economical reorganization of Chile under Pinochet as a backcloth, he tells of a scheming group of business people and of passionate love. His fine sense for nuances of language allows Fontaine to trace the complexities of society and give its many facets a voice. »Power is always contained in language. There is no human power which isn’t shrouded in language. In ›Oír su voz‹ a multitude of jargon and language is collected and, through their sequence next to one another, relativized, reciprocally destabilized, and revealed to be what they really are: languages and interpretations. There is no consistent tone, … but an interlacing of different tones and inconsistent linguistic material.« Fontaine’s second epic »Cuando éramos inmortales« (1998; tr. When we were immortal) is an autobiographically inspired coming-of-age novel. He traces the process of modernization in Chile during the sixties and seventies in light of the country’s social and ideological struggles, using a family of landowners as an example. Based on a true story, his novel »La vida doble« (2010; Eng. »La vida doble: A Novel«, 2013) tells of a female guerilla fighter who is imprisoned and tortured by Pinochet’s intelligence services and eventually agrees to change sides and denounce her former comrades. Here once again, Fontaine reveals himself to be a keen observer and interpreter of the political and social reality of Chile.
Fontaine is a professor of philosophy at the Universidad de Chile. He was also the director of the CEP, the Centro de Estudios Públicos, a non-profit, academic organization committed to the study of the principles, traditions and institutions upon which a free, pluralistic and democratic order of society is based. In 2013 Fontaine was forced to resign from the CEP’s board of trustees, which the media saw as a sign of the current polarization in Chilean society. Fontaine is also a director of the Museum of Memory and Human Rights, which is dedicated to victims of human rights violations committed under the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. He also regularly publishes essays on political and cultural topics.