Elisa Lerner is the daughter of Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe who settled in Valencia, Venezuela, in the early 1930s. After the death of Juan Vicente Gómez the family moved to Caracas.
At 15, Lerner was given a Parker fountain pen by her father to encourage her to become a writer. In secondary school, Lerner got to know many of the people who would go on to form the avant-garde literary group, Sardio. Despite studying law, Lerner’s true passion was literature and she went on to write plays, essays, short fiction and, more recently, a novel (De muerte lenta, 2006). In 2000 Lerner won the Premio Nacional de Literatura in Venezuela.
Elisa Lerner is known for her biting commentary on post-Pérez-Jiménez Venezuela in unforgiving ways. As well as writing plays, Lerner has worked as a newspaper columnist, as a television personality and as Venezuelan cultural attaché in the USA.
Lerner’s characters are almost all women. Often her drama explores how women are unfulfilled sexually, emotionally and intellectually because they are constrained by the roles and behaviours which patriarchal society imposes on them. Thematically, Lerner is also concerned to comment on post-dictatorship Venezuela and the ways in which pop culture and image-making, as well as consumerism, act on the Venezuelan consciousness. The question of memory and identity pervades Lerner’s work.
Elisa Lerner’s style is highly satirical and her dialogues draw on observations about everyday life in particular historical periods, with multiple references to popular culture.
Lerner, Elisa. 1960 La bella de inteligencia (Intelligent Beauty) (in Spanish)
Lerner, Elisa. 1964. El vasto silencio de Manhattan (In Manhattan’s Vast Silence) (in Spanish)
Lerner, Elisa. 1966. El país odontológico (Dental Country) (in Spanish)
Lerner, Elisa. 1978. La mujer del periódico de la tarde (The Afternoon Newspaper Lady) (in Spanish)
Klein, Dennis A. 1987. ‘The Theme of Alienation in the Theater of Elisa Lerner and Isaac Chocrón’, Folio, 17, 151-66
Entry written by Gwendolen Mackeith. Last updated on 13 April 2012.