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el condor pasa...

Bryan, here you go… It’s not great, but it’s a start.

Three foundational texts of Peruvian historiograpy are:

Pedro Cieza de León: Primera parte de la crónica del Perú 1553
He is, of course, a conquistador. I haven’t read but excerpts. (He also jotted down a Segunda parte and a book on the Guerras civiles del Perú.)

Inca Garcilaso de la Vega. Los comentarios reales (1609). Is a complicated text with an even more complicated history of reception. I can’t do it justice in a blurb so I won’t. (Which actually means, that I know less about the rest of texts here, since I am less temerous with those.) However, being the good subject, and a humanist to boot, he produces a platonic reading of Incan empire… and makes a case for strange sort of traslatio imperii, where the Spanish Empire is but the completion and perfection of the civilizing project begun under Inca rule. However, the official reception of Garcilaso de la Vega has tended to play this part down. But, things are getting way over my head.

Guaman Poma de Ayala. El Primer y Nueva Corónica y Buen Gobierno (1615) Guaman Poma writes a contestatory history. His text, written in a very unsophisticated Spanish, is complemented by his drawings. His manuscript was found in the library of Copehagenn. For info on him

William H. Prescott. The History of Conquest of Peru. (1847) The great 19th century historian retells the Conquest of Peru. His is a rip-roaring tale of heroes in a very polished prose. His research is impecable for his time. And, like Borges, like Homer, he researched and wrote despite his blindness.

For a take on the question of religion and conversion in the andean realms during the colonies:
McCormack, Religion in the Andes: Vision and Imagination in Early Colonial Peru

La tragedia de Atahualpa is a fascinating anonymous quechua play that recounts the arrival of Pizzaro from the native point of view. One of the most intriguing aspects of it is that the Spanish are silent, the spectator/reader only hears what they say through an interpreter.

Ollantay, another Indian play… this one is about Inca mythology. For an online English version

Ricardo Palma. Tradiciones Peruanas. He’s the Brother’s Grimm or Washington Irving of Peru. But don’t think that these stories are as magical as the Germans’s. Instead, he “collects” traditional stories and sets them down. His is a complex textuality that “consults” crónicas of the past and popular tales and treats the colonial period as Peru’s Middle Ages.

Clorinda Matto Turner. Aves sin nido In a wayy, she begins an andean literary tradition. There are a few novels before her, novels she knew and even used as inspiration, but Aves sin nido is conisdered the first of a genre… the indianist novel. A social-concern novel that is, at once, a novel about the Indian population but also an allegory for the nation.

José Carlos Mariateguí. 7 ensayos de interpretación In this brief little analysis the author rescues Mariateguí’s discussion of land and indians… and argues that we should look past his Marxist ideology to see what he has to say about Peru. 15 years ago, even 10, one would’ve thought that the writings of an early to mid century Marxist would’ve been simply an intellectual curiosity. But, it seems that Latin America is swinging to the left and rescuing the thought of all these anti-imperial, Marxist thinkers. I wonder if there will be a ressurgence of interest in Mariateguí, now that Bolivia has gone left, and other countries seem to be following, all under the sway of Chavez and his oil money (Mexico, possibly and even Peru).

José María Arguedas, who is from the Apurimac region, just north of Arequipa, grew up speaking Quechua. His novels explore the clash between Spanish and Quechua culture/language in Peru. Whereas he writes in a realist mode, it is always inflected by a Quechuan poetic sensibility.

Rios profundos (1961)—largely considered somewhat autobiographical. I’ve put it first because I would start with this one.
Yawar Fiesta (1941) his first novel
Toda la sangre (1964)
El Zorro de arriba y el zorro de abajo (1969)—an unfinished novel. He committed suicide while writing it. It’s very postmodern. It intersperses the novel with the diary of a novelist admiting that he cannot finish writing his novel.

Of course there are the novels of Mario Vargas Llosas:
El hablador: about an anthropologist who decides to go native. It has an At Play in the Fields of the Lord kind of quality to it.

La casa verde (1966), his tour de force about the caucho boom in Peru. (Read it and watch Fitzcarraldo, by Warner Herzog)

Lituma en los Andes

Cesar Vallejo

The luminary poet of Peru… his Los heraldos negros (1918) is a collection of existential angst… while his Trilce (1922) is an experimental, avant-guard collection that, while still as angst ridden as Los heraldos negros plays out on the verbal and aesthetic level the desamparo existencial of the poet. Most people like him because of his last and posthumous collection which goes by various names and is a very politically engaged poetry.

Other poets of note:
Carlos Germán Belli
Maria Emilia Cornejo
Martín Adán
Sebastian Salazar Bondy

There are, of course, many other writers, etc…. but these should get you on good footing.



I’d rather be a sparrow than a snail.
Yes I would. If I only could!
I surely would.

Holy mess man—this is awesome!!! Thanks a billion, I (along with our team) will be working through this over the summer. If we have any questions/observations I’ll be sure to send them your way. I feel indebted to you, so if you have any er… computer programming that you need done, then let me know.

i would also check out this cyberjournal, it’s dedicated to andean stuff, and lots of arguediana

you will most likely find a number of peruvians who have a mixture of pride towards vargas llosas, but also have a lot of animosity towards him because of his right-leaning politics… something that will grow, no doubt should the country head politically left.

i suggested those three novels simply because they seemed apropos, in a strange way.