NASCE A BUENOS AIRES NELL’APRILE del 1900, da una famiglia di origini prussiane. Scrittore, drammaturgo e giornalista, ha avuto una vita tormentata e ricca di eventi, segnata dalla sofferenza per l’educazione severa impostagli in famiglia e da un profondo conflitto con la figura paterna, che ritroviamo infatti in molte sue opere. Svolse i più disparati lavori: imbianchino, commesso, facchino, e cominciando poi a scrivere per diversi giornali, fino a fare del giornalismo la sua professione. Rese conto dei propri viaggi e degli eventi politici del suo tempo proprio nei reportage scritti per i giornali, e fu tra l’altro testimone in prima persona degli eventi della guerra civile spagnola. La sua scrittura romanzesca rompeva con il tradizionalismo e per un certo tempo fu osteggiata, diventando poi modello per gli scrittori della generazione del boom, tra i quali Gabriel García Márquez, Isabel Allende e Jorge Luis Borges. Tra i romanzi più famosi: Il giocattolo rabbioso e I sette pazzi, entrambi già tradotti in Italia. Di grande valore anche i suoi racconti brevi e le sue numerose pièce teatrali.
He was born Roberto Godofredo Christophersen Arlt in Buenos Aires on April 2, 1900. His parents were both immigrants: his father Karl Arlt was a Prussian from Posen (now Poznan in present-day Poland) and his mother was Ekatherine Iobstraibitzer, a native of Trieste and Italian speaking. German was the language commonly used at their home. His relationship with his father was stressful, as Karl Arlt was a very severe and austere man, by Arlt's own account. The memory of his oppressive father would appear in several of his writings. For example, Remo Erdosain (a character at least partially based on Arlt's own life) often recalls his abusive father and how little if any support he would give him. After being expelled from school at the age of eight, Arlt became an autodidact and worked at all sorts of different odd jobs before landing a job on at a local newspaper: as clerk at a bookstore, apprentice to a tinsmith, painter, mechanic, welder, manager in a brick factory, and dock worker. Arlt has been massively influential on Latin American literature, including the 1960s "Boom" generation of writers such as Gabriel García Márquez. Analogues in English literature are those who avoid literary 'respectability' by writing about the poor, the criminal and the mad: writers like William Burroughs, Iceberg Slim, and Irvine Welsh. Arlt, however, predated all of them. He is widely considered to be one of the founders of the modern Argentine novel; among those contemporary writers who claim to have been influenced by Arlt are Abelardo Castillo, Ricardo Piglia and César Aira. At least two Argentine movies were based on his novels, Los siete locos (1974) and El juguete rabioso (1985).