Fernando González (writer)

Fernando González Ochoa (April 24, 1895 – February 16, 1964), was a Colombian writer and existentialist philosopher known as "el filósofo de Otraparte" (The Philosopher from Somewhere-Else). He wrote about sociology, history, art, morality, economics, epistemology and theology in a magisterial and creative way, using different genres of literature. González is considered one of the most original writers of Colombia during the 20th century. His ideas were controversial and had a great influence in the Colombian society at his time and today. The González work was the inspiration of Nadaism, a literary movement founded by one of his disciples, Gonzalo Arango. The Otraparte Villa, his house in Envigado, is today a museum and the headquarters of the cultural foundation to preserve and promote his legacy. The place was declared a National Patrimony of Colombia in 2006.

Fernando González Ochoa
Fernando gonzales ochoa otraparte.jpg
BornApril 24, 1895
DiedFebruary 16, 1964(1964-02-16) (aged 68)
Era20th-century philosophy
RegionWestern Philosophy
Main interests
Sociology, Epistemology, History, Politics, Theology, Economy, Moral



The children of Daniel and Pastora González: Alfonso, Daniel, Alberto, Graciela, Fernando (the philosopher) and Sofía. Standing up in front Jorge. A picture of 1907.

González lived during the beginning of the 20th century (1895–1964), a time of change, political turbulence and revolutions in industry. He was born seven years after the new political agreement of a more conservative constitution (1888) that gave great influence to the Catholic Church in Colombian society, especially in the education of future generations. Four years after, when he was 4 years old, the nation fell in a bloody civil war, the 1899 - 1902 Thousand Days War. The other important event that happened during his life was in 1903 when Colombia lost Panama. In 1926 the Banana massacre gave evidence of the labor problems of the different growing Colombian industries. He lived also in one of the first industrialist trade centers of the country, the Metropolitan Area of Medellín and the first to start an industrial revolution in Colombia during the 1930s. González was also a witness of the emerging of Fascism in Italy when he was consul of Colombia in that country. In 1948 the killing of the presidential candidate Jorge Eliecer Gaitán opened the doors of a new political instability with El Bogotazo. All these events are reflected in the works and thoughts of Fernando González Ochoa.

Early lifeEdit

Fernando González Ochoa was born in Envigado, a city in the Aburrá Valley (Antioquia State). He was the second of seven children. His parents were Daniel González and Pastora Ochoa. His father was a school teacher, the inspiration of one of his books (El Maestro de Escuela). He was expelled from the school of the Presentation Sisters of Envigado because he insulted a sister after being punished.[1]

Something similar would happen soon after he joined the Jesuit College of Medellín, but this time because he was caught reading Nietzsche. The young González faced his teacher of philosophy, Rev. Quiroz, saying that nothing can be and can not be at the same time. He was a sophomore in high school when the Jesuits asked him to leave the school.


The young Fernando González at right with his friend Fernando Isaza in 1915.

In 1915 he became a member of Los Panidas, a group of sceptics, with León de Greiff, Ricardo Rendón, Félix Mejía Arango, Libardo Parra Toro, José Manuel Mora Vásquez and Eduardo Vasco, among other young intellectuals. In 1916 González published his first book, Pensamientos de un viejo (Thoughts of an Oldman), which presentation was written by Fidel Cano, the founder of El Espectador newspaper. In 1919 González got his diploma in law by University of Antioquia, however his thesis, "El derecho a no obedecer" (The Right Not To Obey) was not welcome by the Academic Council of the University. González had to do some modifications to the text and published it under the title of "Una tesis" (A Thesis).


Fernando González in Nevado del Ruiz Snow Mountain in 1929 during the visits that inspired his work "Viaje a pie" ("Trip By Foot").

In 1921 he became Judge of the Superior Tribunal of Manizales. In 1922 he married in Medellín Margarita Restrepo Gaviria, the daughter of former president Carlos E. Restrepo. In 1928 he is nominated Second Judge of the Medellín Tribunals where he knew Benjamín Correa who was to be one of his best friends. With Correa he visited several towns in the states of Antioquia, Caldas and Valle del Cauca. From those visits he got the inspiration to one of his most popular books, Viaje a pie (Journey on Foot), published in 1929, but forbidden by the Archbishop of Medellín under the penalty of mortal sin.

González went to Venezuela in 1931 to meet dictator Juan Vicente Gómez. He considered Gómez a sprout of Libertador Simón Bolívar and they became friends. The dictator was the godfather of one of the sons of González and this one dedicated a work to him, "Mi compadre".

Consul in ItalyEdit

González was nominated by President Enrique Olaya Herrera a consul of Colombia in Genoa, Italy in 1932. He went with his family to the European country and that same year Le Libre Libre, a publishing house of Paris, published his book Don Mirocletes. About that work Manuel Ugarte wrote a letter to him from Nice saying:

"When your book arrived I had at the moment the visit of Gabriela Mistral and we read with delight some chapters. There is so much force of evocation, so profound irony in the irreverent commentary and so much grace in elegant style!"[2]

From Spain he received two letters of José Vasconcelos on December 14 and 30, 1932. Vasconcelos wrote:

"You are thinking with freedom and that is what we need in America, which always they think in response to an attitude (...) The conferences are a delight, a bitter delight, with depth (...) Your page on the stamp of Ponce de León is wonderful, I was excited, I almost cry."[2]

He received other letter of the Colombian writer José María Vargas Vila, who was exiled in Madrid. Vargas wrote to him:

"You have the vice to think and the virtuous to say beautifully what you think; an Artist-Thinker, that is a rare product in this latitudes; you fills in fullness that model; I can not hide that what I love more in your books is the air of controversy that you can breathe in them; that breath fighter is invigorating and toning; to live is to fight."[3]

In 1933 the Italian police found a book notes with critics to the regimen of Benito Mussolini and the Fascism. He was transferred to Marsella due to a petition of the Italian government. That book notes were the origin of his work El hermafrodita dormido (The Asleep Hermaphrodite), a book with his experiences in the classic art museums of Italy. The book was published in Spain in 1934.

Bucarest VillaEdit

In 1934 González returned to Colombia establishing in his town, Envigado, to live in a finca he called "Bucarest Villa". There he started to publish the Antioquia Magazine until 1945.[4] In 1935 the Arturo Zapata Printing Press of Manizales published his "El Remordimiento" (The Remorse), an essay in theology written in Marsella (France) and Letters to Estanislao Zuleta.

The former president of Ecuador, José María Velasco Ibarra, who was exiled in Colombia, visited González in Bucarest Villa in 1936 and they became very good friends. To Velasco he dedicated some chapters of Los negroides (The Negroid People) where González called Velasco the first "Politician-Thinker" of the Americas. By his part, Velasco called González in his work Conciencia o Barbarie: Exégesis de la Conciencia Política Americana (Conscience or Barbarism: Exegesis of the American Political Conscience), published first by the Atlántida Printing Press of Medellín, "the most original and deep of the South American sociologists".[5]

In that year died in Madrid the Venezuelan novelist Teresa de la Parra with whom González had a good friendship since 1930 when she visited him in Envigado. It was also the year of Los negroides publication, an essay on New Granada (Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador), saying that it is the only American region where the merger of races will create an original culture for a man unified. Such merger is a principle of promises and appalling realities at the same time.[5]

Otraparte VillaEdit

He started in 1940 the construction of his villa in Envigado that at that time he called La Huerta del Alemán (The Garden of the German), but the World War II would make him to change the name for Otraparte (Other Place). The villa was designed with architect Carlos Obregón, engineer Félix Mejía Arango and painter Pedro Nel Gómez. That year he published "Santander", an essay about General Francisco de Paula Santander. The writer Tomás Carrasquilla, his friend and the most admired by him Colombian novelist, died.

In Otraparte he received the American playwright Thornton Wilder to whom he dedicated his work El maestro de escuela (The School Teacher). Wilder was in Colombia as a cultural ambassador of his country in South America and wrote about the Garden of the German: "It is more delightful than all Chapinero".

On April 9, 1949, Colombia shuddered with the killing of presidential candidate Jorge Eliecer Gaitán in Bogotá. González dedicated to him some thoughts in 1936 in Los negroides:

"Today I met Jorge Eliecer Gaitán. He is a lively little mestizo, reader. He speaks and you put attention. How is he a man of action? I have known in my life three Don Juans: they never spoke about love. I have known two actives: they were silent. (...) How come to be that he made a political Party? In order to be listened. He is the will to talk made man; the instinct to talk made his face and all his body. He is the body of the man who talks."[6]

In June 1949 of that year, after El Bogotazo, González wrote in the edition of his Antioquia Magazine:

"The Colombian people is above its class director; this one does not exist, but it is the cross-eyed abortion of what they call here university. Was it what inspired Gaitán to elaborate that sentence that he used to delight the multitudes: The people is superior to its leaders?"[6]

In 1953 he was nominated consul of Colombia in Europe, but he stayed most of the time in Bilbao where he studied Simon Bolívar and Ignatius of Loyola. His friend Thornton Wilder and Jean-Paul Sartre asked to include his name in the list of candidates to the Nobel Prize in Literature of 1955 and for two times he was in nominated.[7] The writers Gabriela Mistral, Jacinto Benavente and Miguel de Unamuno admired his work.

In September 1957 González returned to Colombia, to his Otraparte villa, until his death in 1964. In 2006 President Álvaro Uribe approved Law 1068 to exalt the memory, life and work of the Antioquean philosopher Fernando González and declared Otraparte Home Museum in Envigado as a national patrimony.


Fernando González is called the "Philosopher of Authenticity"[8] and his thought is related to the experience of his life as a man. He used to say that we must live in the simple but bringing awareness of the essentials.[9]

He thought about the Colombian man and, thus, the Latin American, their personality, fights and expressions. He called himself the "Philosopher of the Personality of South America". He wrote that the Latin American man might develop the individuality to arise from their anonymity. He criticized what he called the Latin American vanity that was without substance and invited to express the personality with energy, giving to life the highest value.[9]

González thought his time as the decadence of the principle of freedom and individualism for an action of flocks following calves to worship (Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini). He missed the man of the ancient Egypt, Greece and the Renaissance man.


  • (1916) Pensamientos de un viejo
  • (1916) El payaso interior
  • (1919) Una tesis - El derecho a no obedecer
  • (1929) Viaje a pie
  • (1930) Mi Simón Bolívar
  • (1932) Don Mirócletes
  • (1933) El Hermafrodita dormido
  • (1934) Mi Compadre
  • (1934) Salomé
  • (1935) El Remordimiento
  • (1935) Cartas a Estanislao.
  • (1935) "Hace tiempo" de Tomás Carrasquilla
  • (1936) Los Negroides
  • (1936) Don Benjamín, jesuita predicador
  • (1936) Nociones de izquierdimos
  • (1936–1945) Revista Antioquia
  • (1940) Santander
  • (1941) El maestro de escuela
  • (1942) Estatuto de Valorización
  • (1945) Cómo volverse millonario en Colombia
  • (1950) Cartas a Simón Bolívar
  • (1959) Libro de los Viajes o de las Presencias
  • (1962) Tragicomedia del padre Elías y Martina la Velera
  • (1963) El pesebre
  • (1936) Las cartas de Ripol



  1. ^ Ernesto Ochoa Moreno: "Born to rebellion Archived 2008-05-13 at the Wayback Machine" (Spanish), from the archive gallery of Fernando González, Corporación Otraparte. Retrieved on May 10, 2008.
  2. ^ a b Javier Henao Hidrón: "Vivencia cronológica", Archive of the Otraparte Corporation. Retrieved on May 9, 2008.
  3. ^ Javier Henao Hidrón: "Vivencia cronológica", Archive of the Otraparte Corporation. Retrieved on May 9, 2008. Original in Spanish: "Tiene usted el vicio de pensar, y la virtud de decir bellamente lo que piensa; un Pensador-Artista, es un producto muy raro en nuestras latitudes; usted llena en plenitud ese modelo; no he de ocultarle que lo que amo más en sus libros es el aire de polémica que se respira en ellos; ese hálito de combate, es vivificante y tonificador; vivir es combatir".
  4. ^ Javier Henao Hidrón: "Vivencia cronológica Archived 2008-09-20 at the Wayback Machine", Archive of the Otraparte Corporation. Retrieved on May 10, 2008.
  5. ^ a b José María Velasco Ibarra: Conciencia o Barbarie: Exégesis de la Conciencia Política Americana, Medellín, 1937. Republished in Buenos Aires. Spanish. Note: "America" in Spanish refers to the North and South American continents.
  6. ^ a b Cited by Javier Henao Hidrón in his essay about the life of F. González. Archive of the Otraparte Corporation. Retrieved on May 10, 2008.
  7. ^ Jorge A. Zapata Z.: "Fernando González Ochoa". Monografías.com. Retrieved on May 9, 2008.
  8. ^ Alberto Restrepo González: "¿Fernando González filósofo? Archived 2007-10-24 at the Wayback Machine" (tr.en "Is Fernando González a philosopher?). Periódico El Colombiano, April 26, 2000. Archive of Corporación Otraparte. Retrieved on May 9, 2008.
  9. ^ a b Jorge A. Zapata: "[we must live in the simple but bringing awareness of the essentials Fernando González]", Monografías.com. Retrieved on May 9, 2008.


  • Restrepo, Alberto. Guide to read Fernando González. Medellín, Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana and Universidad San Buenaventura, 1997. Spanish.
  • Henao Hidrón, Javier. Fernando González, the Philopher of Authenticity. Medellín, University of Antioquia and Biblioteca Pública Piloto, 1988. Spanish.
  • Uribe de Estrada, Maria Helena. Fernando González: The Traveler who was seeing more and more. Medellín, Molino de Papel Publish House, 1999. Spanish.

External linksEdit