This dissertation casts doubt on Gutiérrez's traditional image as a frivolous writer and focuses on his historical novels, specifically his cycles on Juan Manuel de Rosas and Ángel Vicente Peñaloza, el Chacho. These are Juan Manuel de Rosas, La mazorca, Una tragedia de doce años, El puñal del tirano, El Chacho, Los montoneros, El rastreador, and La muerte de un héroe, plus La muerte de Buenos Aires. The purpose of my thesis is to demonstrate that in these historical novels the author reflects on the current state of Argentina while at the same time he criticizes the fate of the liberal project of nation-building. In doing so, he engages in a broad reflection on Argentinian nationalist discourses, and on the roots of what he considers to be liberalism's failure. Likewise, he reconsiders the problematic notion of caudillo, cornerstone of the distinction between civilization and barbarism, and builds an argument based on the counterpoint between Rosas and Peñaloza.
In these books, Gutiérrez uses the rethorical mechanisms of the liberal intellectuals to reflect about the constituted state instead of its enemies. Moreover, Gutiérrez writes about an unforeseen enemy of the Argentinian Lettered City, namely, itself. Taking that into account, I argue that, in his novels about Rosas and Peñaloza, Gutiérrez proposes that the nation dissolves inside the liberal state since it is disconnected from national History. As had happened in the time of the antirosista fight, these texts echo the very well grounded liberal discourse from the Generación del 37 and put Rosas as its center. However, this time, Rosas is not the embodiment of barbarism but rather civilization. On the other hand, Peñaloza—Facundo Quiroga's successor in La Rioja—is named the true restorer of the national order in ideological alliance with the liberal party.
Since the publication of Ricardo Rojas' Literatura argentina and despite Gutiérrez's indisputable role shaping Argentinian culture and literature, this author has routinely been studied as the personality who merely links José Hernández' s epic cycle with narrative and theatre about the gaucho. Nevertheless, important treatises, such as Adolfo Prieto's El discurso criollista en la formación de la Argentina moderna (1988) and Alejandra Laera's El tiempo vacío de la ficción (2004), have already been written about Gutiérrez's true position and contribution to Argentinian literature. My dissertation contributes to this critical corpus by studying a different group of novels away from Gutiérrez's gauchoesque repertoire. Thus, while Prieto defines the criollista movement and points to Gutiérrez's Juan Moreira as its inspiration and Laera demonstrates how Eugenio Cambaceres and Gutiérrez shaped the modern Argentinian novel, my work reflects on how Gutiérrez positions himself and his work inside the Argentinian literary canon.