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The Brilliant Life and Alcoholic Death of Ludovico Silva

High Heights and the Lowest Depths

Image by Muago, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

I bought a book by Ludovico Silva. It was the topic that interested me as I’d never heard of the author.

It turns out that he was a remarkable man. A Venezuelan, he was a poet, philosopher, professor, publisher, and writer who had studied philosophy in Spain, literature in France, and philology in Germany. His writings were prolific and he was widely respected.

I was reading the Foreward to the book when I was brought up short by this quote from his brother Hector:

“Tormented existence? Yes! Together we traveled to alcohol’s chiaroscuro kingdom, together we caroused in the bars and the taverns in the whirlwind…”

And this, from Alberto Toscano, author of the Forward:

“In 1986, Silva would be briefly committed to an asylum for the mental disturbances caused by a ‘demonic acid they called ammonium’, generated by his alcohol consumption…“

Photo by Milad Fakurian on Unsplash

He was in the asylum for 33 days.

“He would die two years later, at the age of fifty-one, or a heart attack caused by cirrhosis of the liver.”


Cirrhosis is, essentially, scarring of the liver due to damage. The leading cause of this damage is extreme alcohol consumption.

The Mayo Clinic states that complications of cirrhosis can include:

  • High blood pressure in the veins that supply the liver.

  • Swelling in the legs and abdomen.

  • Enlargement of the spleen.

  • Bleeding.

  • Infections.

  • Malnutrition.

  • A buildup of toxins in the brain.

  • Jaundice.

  • Bone disease.

  • Increased risk of liver cancer.

  • Acute-on-chronic cirrhosis that leads to multiorgan failure.


I was enthralled by reading about the work and studies of Ludovico Silva and found myself marveling at the life of this man who lived from 1937 to 1988 as yet another extraordinary mind of whom I’d never heard, and here I am about to be reading his words.

The brief statements about his troubles and death from alcoholism were dropped into the middle of the Introduction.

I don’t know why it struck me so.

Except to say that it hit me hard regarding how many suffer from alcoholism the world over.

And that this man that I was just about to meet through his words had come to such a horrific end after so much good work. And that he died at age 51.


Rest in Peace, Ludovica Silva, and all those, known and unknown, who have perished from drinking too much alcohol.

Ludovico Silva, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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