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Research Area Latin American literature and cultural history, from Independence to the present. Specific research topics: Bandit narratives, Gothic Literature, Romanticism. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, Illuminations: Cultural Formations of the Americas. Pittsburgh: U of Pittsburgh P, Winner of the Kayden Book Award for literary studies Peter Elmore Professor. Research Areas 20thst Century Spanish American Narrative and Poetry; Literary Theory particularly in the areas of narratology and poetics, Crime fiction, the historical novel, Avant-Garde and Modernist poetry, non-fiction narratives, and Andean literatures.

Lima: Peisa, El perfil de la palabra. La crisis Travel literature and Empire in relation to Science and Archaeology. It should be noted, though, that there are accounts written closer to the time of the events. He became involved in the aftermath of the Spanish conquest, when the conquistadors divided into factions and fought civil wars. During the s, this chronicler undertook the writing of a history of Peru.

He not only surveyed both Spaniards and native Andeans, but questioned informants from diverse factions within both groups and used only material that seemed reliable. Apparently the author envisioned a seven-volume work but did not complete the project. On the whole, though, sixteenth-century Andean accounts of the conquest have attracted less attention than those concerned with the Caribbean and Mexico. Certainly the Andean histories do not offer the feature that fascinates readers of accounts of the Mexican conquest, that is, the proliferation of competing versions of the same highly charged events.

He arrived in the Caribbean as a soldier in armed expeditions, although he appears to have already begun the studies that would lead to his second, more notable career in the clergy. It was as the lord of an encomienda that he grew concerned over the Euro- narrative accounts of the encounter and conquest 33 pean practice of depriving native peoples of their liberty. This preoccupation grew at the same time that Las Casas was abandoning his military career for an ecclesiastical one.

He became a catechist, then was ordained as a priest and, later in his long life, entered the Dominican order, eventually being named Bishop of Chiapas. In the course of evangelizing the Indians on his estate, Las Casas became uneasy over holding fellow human beings in peonage. In a muchnoted sermon of 15 August , Las Casas stated that he was renouncing the use of Indian serfs and returning his to the governor of Cuba.

This speech marked the beginning of a long career dedicated to combating the enslavement of Indians and promoting peaceful evangelization. In casual references Las Casas is occasionally singled out as if he were virtually the sole Spanish defender of Indian rights in the Spanish colonies. However, colonization was scarcely under way before a number of Spaniards began expressing unease over the treatment of native peoples. Members of the Dominican order, in the course of proselytizing, often had extensive contact with the Amerindians and came to sympathize with their plight.

For example, in he and other Dominican friars engaged in a successful petition-writing campaign to Pope Paul III, requesting a bull recognizing Amerindians as beings endowed with reason. Moreover, Las Casas composed memorable narratives to illustrate his ideas. Of course, he addressed his letters of petition to particular authorities, whether at court or in the ecclesiastical hierarchy. In his lengthier writings, though, he calls out to anyone concerned with social justice.

He seeks to instill in Spanish readers a sympathetic outlook toward native peoples and to produce general revulsion toward the ill treatment these communities have suffered. Las Casas often underlines the similarities between the indigenous groups of 34 early spanish american narrative the New World and Spanish Christians. While Las Casas goes into little detail about Amerindian religions, he suggests that they are not fundamentally so different from Christianity.

In his vision, Amerindians can shift easily to Catholicism once peaceful evangelists have exposed them to the new faith. He was a major force behind the New Laws that King Charles promulgated in This legislation weakened the encomienda by forbidding recipients of such land grants to will their Indian serfs to their heirs. Las Casas immediately realized that the regulations would not completely abolish involuntary servitude.

In , as Bishop of Chiapas, he prohibited confessors from granting absolution to landowners who held their Indian workers in thrall under the encomienda system. Las Casas stipulated that this threevolume work be withheld from publication until forty years after his death, and indeed it was not printed until Once the people whose careers and fortunes were most apt to be damaged by the History were dead, there would be less motivation to tamper with the manuscript. As noted, it is also a prophetic work showing how the Spanish will have brought ruin upon their own nation through their collective sins in the colonies.

Las Casas was a dedicated propagandist, regardless of the genre in which he was composing. Polemical assertions appear frequently in the History; at times argumen- narrative accounts of the encounter and conquest 35 tation seems to dominate over the narration of events. In some passages the History resembles a wide-ranging, encyclopedic reference work; it offers information that does not move the story forward. He argues, though, that the native peoples of the Americas deserve their current misery to atone for the idolatry, sorcery, sodomy, and other diabolical practices in which they engaged before the arrival of Christians.

He leaves open the possibility that, once they are Christians, they will improve in both character and physical appearance. At the same time, the author was a dedicated ethnographer, and the material he collected from his informants has proven enormously useful to later students of Amerindian cultures. Cabeza de Vaca was one of a handful of surviving castaways from an ill-fated expedition to Florida.

He ended up 36 early spanish american narrative wandering for eight years through what is today Florida, Texas, the U. Southwest, most likely Kansas, and northern Mexico. His band of shipwrecked conquistadors, which dwindled to three Spaniards and a Moroccan taken along as a slave, had no contact with other speakers of Spanish and no word of Europe during much of this time. The resulting experience of immersion in indigenous American cultures is in great measure what motivates the present-day fascination with Cabeza de Vaca. He acknowledges openly that he would have perished without the aid of the Amerindians who sheltered and fed him.

However, Castaways goes well beyond a statement of services rendered, and its digressive passages are perhaps the most attractive to current-day readers. A sharp-eyed participant-observer of the Amerindian communities that hosted and in some cases enslaved him, Cabeza de Vaca included a good deal of ethnographic detail. Once published in and in a second edition of , Castaways attracted a readership beyond court circles.

An increasing number of Spanish readers, including historians who were competing with one another to make their versions of the conquest prevail, had developed an interest in New World matters. Southwest and northern Mexico. Though some conventions are inescapable, Cabeza de Vaca relies fairly lightly on rhetorical adornments and instead focuses upon his experiences and observations.

This commander repeatedly gives ill-considered orders whose disastrous results Cabeza de Vaca foresees. The expedition spends some time in the Caribbean, where the Spanish presence is well established, before sailing to Florida, an area still largely unknown to Europeans.

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In April the ships land near Tampa Bay. The idea is for the ships to trail along the coastline and eventually reunite with the foot soldiers. The tracking ships soon lose contact with the explorers on land and sail away. In his account of the land expedition, Cabeza de Vaca seeks to elicit sympathy for the hardships endured by the men abandoned in the swampy northern regions of Florida. Their concern shifts from exploring new lands and claiming them for Spain to the immediate requirements for survival. Castaways emphasizes the horror of contending with an inhospitable environment, including days of swamp-wading, poisonous snakes, disorientation, and the hostility of the communities whose lands the Spanish soldiers have entered.

Cabeza de Vaca portrays the Spanish, unacquainted with the dangers and diseases of the New World, as bewildered and pathetic. Instead they drift in the Gulf of Mexico until they wash up that autumn on the shore of what is now East Texas, quite likely on Galveston Island.

The Spaniards, weakened by hunger and exhaustion and disoriented in the unfamiliar landscape, are already barely managing when they capsize a boat containing their personal belongings. Though Cabeza de Vaca recognizes the generosity of various groups of Amerindians, he does not idealize native communities as unfailingly kind.

Some of his hosts are fundamentally captors, and he spends time as a slave. Over the years, Cabeza de Vaca develops skills as a trader and healer that allow him to win respect and grow relatively prosperous. Eventually, Cabeza de Vaca becomes celebrated among the Amerindian communities for his ability to restore health. To acquire this fame, Cabeza de Vaca has to gain considerable knowledge of tribal cultures and adopt a number of indigenous folkways in such matters as dress and personal adornment.

In the Naufragios, Cabeza de Vaca takes pains to attribute a Christian character to his career as a healer, which could easily be perceived as a foray into paganism and witchcraft.

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However, he does express approval of some Amerindian practices, such as the cauterization of wounds. The episode in which Cabeza de Vaca has success in treating an apparently dead patient displays this mix of Christian piety and folk healing: And when I came near to their settlements I saw the sick man whom we were going to heal, who was dead, for many people were around him weeping and his house had been pulled down, which is a sign that its owner has died. And so when I got there I found the Indian with narrative accounts of the encounter and conquest 39 his eyes rolled up and without any pulse and with all the signs of being dead, as it seemed to me, and Dorantes said the same.

I took off a reed mat with which he was covered and as best I could I implored Our Lord to be pleased to give health to that man and all others who had need of it. And after I had made the sign of the cross and blown on him many times, they brought me his bow and gave it to me. And that night they returned to their homes and said that the man who was dead and whom I had healed had stood up in their presence entirely well and had walked and eaten and spoken with them. While Cabeza de Vaca does not speak of his own view of his identity, he tells of the perception of others. They went on staring at me for a long time, so astonished that they could neither speak to me nor manage to ask me anything.

Since the twentieth century, there has been a widespread fascination with the dynamics of cultures in contact, especially when features of two or more cultures become commingled and fused to create a new cultural blend.

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Castaways is a story whose narrator-protagonist is required by circumstances to adopt and transform for his own use many traits of another culture, and this interactive union of cultures appeals to readers now. It should be remembered that Mesoamerican peoples had a long-established tradition of chronicling what befell their communities and especially their monarchs. The Amerindians who witnessed the conquest recorded their accounts by various methods, including oral transmission, pictorial representation, and pictographic, glyphic, and alphabetic forms of writing in various combinations.

In the sixteenth century the standardization of spelling did not hold the importance that it does today. Between the mids and about , Bernal composed his own account, which was not published until He often invokes his authority as an eyewitness and participant. Bernal goes into extensive detail. Moreover, Bernal appears less self-seeking than many chroniclers.

Of course, the letters and reports that subjects address to their monarchs are inherently somewhat suspect. Bernal was no doubt hoping that, by displaying the services he had rendered, he might enrich the estate that he would leave to his descendants. The old soldier has some scores to settle and, like many participants in the conquest, is aggrieved over the meager reward he received for his service. His writing of history appears directed primarily toward his announced goal: to set the facts straight.

It is important to him that his own efforts come in for acknowledgment. Although he sometimes emphasizes his humble status, he can be irritatingly vain. He also brings out the assistance the commander received from Amerindians. The Aztec ruler and the Spanish conqueror appear to be addressing one another in a common language. Bernal supplies much of what is generally known about La Malinche. Amerindian observers were vividly aware of La Malinche, who often appears in their accounts and representations. Bernal 42 early spanish american narrative views her from a perspective that is clearly pro-conquest and Christian.

Bernal treats La Malinche respectfully, praising her intelligence, interpretive talent, high birth, good character, and devout Christianity. He killed and wounded many of them. In addition, contemporary narratives touch upon some aspects of the New World explorations and campaigns that by now seem merely fabulous embellishments, such as the persistent idea that seven cities of gold existed somewhere in the north of Mexico or what is today the southwestern United States.

One should keep in mind that some legendary beliefs motivated real-world expeditions. An example is the search through the Florida peninsula for waters capable of bringing back youthful vigor. Many other seekers, both Spaniards and Amerindians, persevered in the search of the restorative waters. After the fall and destruction of Tenochtitlan, there were still some Aztecs who had fought in or observed the defense of the imperial capital and lived to tell the tale.

Around mid-century, he be- 44 early spanish american narrative gan systematically collecting data about many aspects of Aztec life, the rationale being that knowledge of the language and customs would further the conversion of the Amerindians. This work exists in several versions. Especially valued is an unusually complete — version that, housed in Florence, is known as the Florentine Codex. Scholars sometimes prefer to consult an even earlier, though incomplete, manuscript in Madrid. The Florentine Codex is in two columns. The other is his Spanish version, a free translation, perhaps better called a paraphrase, with some additions and emendations of his own.

Although the version was bilingual at one time, to the frustration of researchers only the Spanish version is extant. The Historia general has many themes, including religion, the calendar, festivals, divination, medicine, topics in natural history, and the social and economic organization of the Aztec empire. He solicited, preserved, and included drawings by Amerindian scribes. The vivid graphics of the Florentine Codex are frequently reproduced to illustrate such events as the catastrophic Spanish retreat from Tenochtitlan.

Other ill omens included a comet, bizarre disturbances in the lake upon which the city was built, and the appearance of monstrous beings. The Aztecs had apparently been living in a state of apocalyptic dread. Moctezuma is reported to have been in despair. The general sense of imminent catastrophe was heightened by the reports of the messengers that Moctezuma sent to negotiate with the Spanish as they came nearer to his capital. As the events of — receded in time, though, survivors who could provide information died. It should be remembered that Aztec society included learned scribes and chroniclers who maintained a record of everything considered important to the Aztec people and state.

For some time after the conquest, this native writing activity continued. Almost immediately after the fall of the empire, missionary friars taught already-literate Aztecs to write Spanish and Nahuatl in the Roman alphabet, hoping that they would use this skill to spread Christianity.

Some of their students quickly used alphabetic writing to set down, in either Nahuatl or Spanish, information important to their own communities. The subject matter could come either from ancient manuscripts or from post-conquest developments. The survival of Amerindian chronicling and scribal practices after the conquest is a fascinating and complex phenomenon, though it lies outside the scope of this survey.

Unfortunately, the accounts that the Aztecs kept did not survive as well as those written by priests and historians who were either Spaniards or had a Spanish education. Only a limited number of books actually by the Aztecs or other peoples of central Mexico are extant even in fragmentary form today, and there are not many people who can interpret them.

Another author who draws on native sources is the historian Fernando de Alva Ixtlilxochitl c. These early writings represent a period in which the Spanish New World settlements were still by and large a wild frontier society. As the Spanish succeeded in claiming the bulk of the Amerindian lands, the active phase of the conquest came to an end, though uprisings and border skirmishes would continue for some time. As the next chapter shows, the establishment of stable cities and towns brought on the development of literary life.

After the main campaign of conquest ended, the New World came to include more people with the education and free time to devote to literature as an art. Before looking at the relatively settled seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, I review quickly the events of the more tumultuous century that preceded it, often alluded to in later literary works. The great conquests occurred early in the sixteenth century. Tenochtitlan fell in By the end of the sixteenth century, Spanish forces controlled most, though not all, of the lands Spain claimed.

As strife diminished, existence in the New World lost its frontier character. The establishment of the vice-regal capitals stimulated the growth of intellectual activity in the colonies. The Spanish established a government center in Cuzco, but their South American capital was Lima, which Pizarro founded in The vice-regal capitals had as their main purpose the administration of the colonies, but they served other functions. Court life included poetry, song, and theater.

Monasteries, convents, and educational institutions also provided places for intellectual and creative activity. In the seventeenth century, religious houses at times attracted intellectuals seeking a place to write. Universities were chartered in both capitals. Beyond doubt, a number of the narratives generated during and immediately after the conquest exhibit near-literary qualities in the sense of being especially imaginative, involving, or well executed.

Yet the chroniclers did not set out to write belles lettres. The literary qualities that readers ascribe to their works are secondary to pragmatic purposes.


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It is an account of the Spanish attempt to wrest Chile from the Araucanian people, who proved impossible to defeat militarily. As well as being an important Renaissance heroic poem, La Araucana fascinates researchers with its characterization of the Araucanians. While Ercilla had fought against the Araucanians, his poem shows unusual admiration for them. Absorbing as these issues are, La Araucana lies outside the scope of this study because it is in verse. A more sophisticated and cultivated style of writing began to appear in narrative prose as well. The Inca Garcilaso, whose major works appeared in the seventeenth century, is often referred to as a historian, although this term does not cover all aspects of his work.

His most important writings are primarily histories, but he should also be considered a literary writer. He acquired a humanistic education and was a careful stylist. At the time of his birth, Amerindian-Spanish mestizos were still a recent phenomenon in Peru. The Inca Garcilaso feels the need to explain to his Spanish readers what a mestizo is.

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Eventually the father was pressured into taking a young the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries 49 Spanish bride; his concubine was married off to a lowlier Spaniard. The father gave his mestizo child a Spanish, Christian, and militaristic upbringing. When he became a colonial administrator corregidor, or magistrate, of the city of Cuzco , the son accompanied him as his secretary. Once the Spanish had conquered a people with a nobility, they often cultivated the existing elite to help win the population over to Christianity and acceptance of Spanish rule.

The adult Inca Garcilaso would later relate that as a child he seized this opportunity to learn everything he could about the days of the Inca rulers. He also learned Quechua, the language of the Inca empire. As a historian, he often reminds his readers of his knowledge of Quechua, which gives him greater authority than monolingual Spanish competitors. For my purpose is not to gainsay them, but to furnish a commentary and gloss, and to interpret many Indian expressions which they, as strangers to that tongue, have rendered inappropriately.

In his Royal Commentaries the Inca Garcilaso brings to the fore those elements of his identity that confer status. He was of noble blood and the descendant of an imperial line, with both a ruling-class European background and a privileged knowledge of elite Inca culture. The Inca Garcilaso appears to have used this title primarily as a reminder of his royal lineage. Cuzco is associated with the line of the Inca emperors and the destiny of the Inca state; it holds a central place in the cosmos as well as in the Inca empire; before the conquest, it was admired for its architectural splendor.

The Inca is given to comparing Cuzco, the empire it governed, and the Quechua language to Rome, the Roman empire, and Latin. Beyond the relatively practical career skills that his father had him master, he acquired on his own an impressive grasp of contemporary humanistic thought and letters. For all his prestigious attributes, though, he was illegitimate. The Inca Garcilaso frequently drew attention to his Amerindian background to demonstrate his authority concerning Peru.

Yet mixed ancestry could not reasonably be called an advantage in a society where purity of blood was the ideal. Adding a further complication to his identity is the question of his residence. The Inca Garcilaso is best known for his accounts of New World matters, and especially of the Inca empire and its conquest, but from the age of twenty one he resided in Europe and never returned to Peru.

In later life he followed instead a clerical and literary vocation, taking minor orders and dedicating himself to his manuscripts. The English translation of the same work bears a somewhat different title, The Philosophy of Love. Later the Inca Garcilaso specialized in histories of Spanish America. In he published an account of the ill-fated Spanish exploration that Hernando de Soto led in what is now the southeastern United States.

The Inca had never been in Florida and had to rely on second-hand sources. Of most enduring interest is his historical and ethnographic account of the Inca empire and the Spanish colonization of Peru. Like many contemporary works, it bears a title so long-winded that it cannot be used to refer to the work. Instead, it is known by the handle Los comentarios reales de los Incas Royal Commentaries of the Incas. In both parts of the Royal Commentaries the Inca is uninhibited in showing his personal involvement with the subject matter.

The Inca emphasizes that his account of the Inca empire is based on privileged sources to which few had access. He places considerable importance on his knowledge of Quechua, the language of the empire, and on his childhood experience of listening to the Inca nobles speak of their lost glories. Even as a child, the Inca reports drawing information from his relatives and others: I was brought up among these Indians, and as I frequented their society until I was twenty I was able to learn during that time something 52 early spanish american narrative of all the subjects I am writing about, for in my childhood they used to account their histories, just as stories are told to children.

Later, as I grew up, they talked to me at length about their laws and government, and compared the new rule of the Spaniards with that of the Incas.

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Apart from what the Indians told me, I experienced and saw with my own eyes a great deal of their idolatry, festivals, and superstitions, which had still not altogether disappeared in my own time, when I was twelve or thirteen. My schoolfellows earnestly complied with my request, and each reported my intention to his mother and relatives, and they, on hearing that an Indian, a son of their own country, intended to write its history, brought from their archives the records they had of their histories and sent me them. The Royal Commentaries contain many allusions to issues of writing. At no point does the author claim that the Incas possessed writing, which he considers the best method of preserving information.

He laments that much of the cultural knowledge of the Incas is already lost because it was not written down before the conquest. On the other hand, he emphasizes that the Incas developed practices that served some of the same functions as writing and worked so long as society remained stable. For example, the Incas systematically strengthened their memories to retain the information that most needed to be passed along. Oral transmission using a trained, focused memory was more accurate and sophisticated than it might seem to European readers, who had been taught to rely on writing.

The khipu discussed in the introduction to this work , which records information in knots, also comes in for discussion. Since the khipu was the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries 53 still in use when the Inca was a child, his discussion of this medium of communication is of great interest. The Inca indeed provides information about the khipu, but his statements deepen rather than solve the mystery of its function.

But the purpose of the embassies or the contents of the speeches, or any other descriptive matter could not be recorded on the knots, consisting as it did of continuous spoken or written prose, which cannot be expressed by means of knots, since these can only give numbers and not words.

The use of khipus to record or reconstruct history suggests that this device could preserve information in narrative form. The Inca acknowledges as well his consultation of writings by other historians. Earlier studies on the Inca Garcilaso often emphasize the links between his work and the European humanistic tradition and historiography. Given the current intense concern with hybrid cultural forms, it is not surprising that scholars seek to understand the ways in which the Inca Garcilaso blended together his oral background and his mastery, in his mature years, of a highly literate European humanistic culture.

He is a cultural historian, but he is also attempting an ethnographic reconstruction of imperial Inca life and, to some extent, writing elements of an autobiography. He includes a great deal of material concerning intellectual life and the cultivation of the arts in the Inca empire. In the Royal Commentaries the author makes an attempt to relate the history of the Inca people as they themselves viewed it, that is, including elements that are more legendary than factual.

A number of narratives centering on Inca emperors are reproduced in the volume; they include such supernatural elements as ill omens, premonitory dreams, and communications from the dead. The author demonstrates his Christian outlook by occasionally disparaging the supernatural beliefs of the Incas as superstitions. But, within the narratives, the information that the Incas obtain through divination, augury, and revelation is accurate and dangerous to disregard. In the seventeenth century even highly educated Spanish readers were often quite devout, and both the reading public and authorities were concerned that Christian doctrine be upheld at all times.

Having no special royal warrant or commission ahead of time to the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries 55 write his histories, the Inca Garcilaso had to be particularly cautious not to offend the censors. In reading the Royal Commentaries, one sees immediately what care the author takes to maintain the fundamental principle that Christianity is the one true faith.

At the same time, he is eager to cast Inca culture in the best light, so it must not appear as paganism without redeeming features. Instead, he argues that, despite their outwardly polytheistic religion, in their heart of hearts they had already made the transition to monotheism. The Inca Garcilaso states that the Incas had managed to develop on their own a prototype or forerunner of Christianity, using their natural intelligence to compensate for a lack of Christian education.

This argument not only places the Incas close to Christians but also distances them from the Andean cultures that they conquered. To begin with their gods, we may say that they were of a piece with the simplicity and stupidity of the times, as regards the multiplicity of gods and the vileness and cruelty of the things the people worshipped. According to this account, it was the Incas who brought, along with 56 early spanish american narrative agriculture and other technical advancements, reforms in sexual morality.

In this way, they laid the groundwork for the conversion of Andean peoples to Christianity as such. While it may not be literally accurate, his explanation is certainly an ingenious solution to one of the problems he faced: how to praise Inca religious culture without seeming less than faithful to the Christianity that had replaced it.

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As the Inca Garcilaso portrays Inca religion, he attempts to eliminate those features that would arouse the disgust of European readers. They praised the Incas of Peru for not indulging in or permitting these two practices, and equally abominated the Mexicans who performed both of them. After the anti-colonial Tupac Amaru rebellion in Peru, the Royal Commentaries were banned there lest they strengthen the desire to return to home rule. In many respects, the Inca Garcilaso unites the elements of his identity and loyalties, but his work reveals inconsistencies and ambivalence.

The author often refers to himself as an indio while in other passages he situates himself, with greater precision, in the category of mestizo. It gen- the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries 57 erally demonstrates his inside knowledge of the Inca state, empire, religion, and, above all, language.

He was schooled among other offspring of conquistadors and Amerindian women. For this purpose, he calls attention to his dual background. And among the criollos born here, and naturalized there. A merindian accounts of the conquest and its aftermath continue to become more available, fascinating both scholars and general readers.

Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala, an Andean author of indigenous ancestry, has been the object of increasing critical scrutiny since his work came to light in It also contains the greatest store of information about the life of Andeans i. As he argues for the recognition of Amerindian rights and entitlements, Guaman Poma relies on the authority of both European and Andean predecessors. Adorno, the most recognized authority on Guaman Poma, does not venture to give his birth and death dates.

From what this author says about himself, it is fair to place his date of birth sometime after the Spanish conquest of the Inca empire in the early s. It was in the antiquities collections of the Royal Library of Copenhagen in the mid-nineteenth century, when it was bound and stamped with the the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries 59 royal seal of the then-ruling Danish king. It was often in the hands of scholars attempting a transcription. In Paul Rivet, the director of the Ethnological Institute of Paris, resolved the problem of access by publishing a facsimile edition.

Even though the facsimile reproduces the original quite clearly, reading it is an arduous task. In composition and lettering, he had many idiosyncrasies, including a tendency to run words together, to form letters oddly, and to use cryptic abbreviations. This manuscript, 1, pages in length and containing drawings, could be characterized in various ways.

It contains sections on history, genealogy, geography, and religion. In some of the most-quoted passages, Guaman Poma evokes the suffering of the Amerindians under Spanish rule and proposes remedies. He calls for the return of Peru to the native peoples of the Andes, although the Spanish king would still enjoy global dominion as Monarch of the World. Yet it is not intended for a single reader. Guaman Poma also hoped to take his case to the court of public opinion. This is never more the case than in his extensive discussions of religious matters. Guaman Poma includes many reminders that he is a Christian.

The Dominicans, a number of whom argued in defense of the rights of indigenous peoples, come in for praise for their education and religious devotion. At the same time, Guaman Poma is quick to criticize the cruel and corrupt practices of members of the clergy, especially those who venture out, virtually unsupervised, into Andean communities. The extirpation campaign at times took on the character of an inquisition, including the use of torture to produce false confessions of idolatrous practices. Although Guaman Poma objects to the methods used by the clergy, he favors the establishment of Christianity.

In his proposed plan, the Andean region would form part of a vast Christian empire in which all other forms of worship would be supplanted by Christian beliefs and practices. According to Guaman Poma, the ancient peoples of the Andean region were essentially Christian. They worshipped the same god as Jews and Christians and pursued an ideal of moral conduct identical to the Christian virtues.

Guaman Poma is only one of many defenders of native peoples who claim that the Amerindians had absorbed the tenets of Christianity even before being introduced to its formal terms. According to Guaman Poma, idolatry was a misguided deviation from this natural Christianity; the dynasty of Inca emperors receives the blame for this misstep. Moreover, Christianity as such arrived in Peru in the early Christian era.

Bartholomew was in the Andean region and planted a cross. In his terms, he is one of the principales, that is, princes or high nobles, among the Andean peoples. He details his own genealogy, which includes both Inca and non-Inca noble families. His father was a descendant of the dynasty that ruled before the rise of Inca power. His mother was descended from the tenth Inca emperor, Tupac Inca Yupanqui. He argues that the the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries 61 Spanish should respect the systems of royalty and high nobility that were already in place before the conquest.

A s the seventeenth century moves along, a number of texts exhibit a tendency to satirize human nature and society. The authors, many of whom were born in the Americas, ridicule humankind, especially those who are high on the social hierarchy. There are variant spellings of his name. The Carnero gives as its date of completion. It circulated only in manuscript copies until it was printed in The original is lost. The meaning of the word carnero has been much discussed. Common grave, perhaps a reference to the miscellaneous character of the text, is an often-proposed interpretation, but other possibilities remain open.

The Carnero is a hybrid text that draws upon both oral and erudite tradition, weaving tales and anecdotes together with literary allusions in a highly inventive exploration of history and human nature. Some portions are dry lists of information, but other passages veer off into gossip, folktales, and myth. Readers with a literary bent have paid the greatest attention to those sections of the work that most closely resemble imaginative writing and tended to skip the portions heavy on names, titles, and dates.

He has a special predilection for stories in which troves of valuables are buried, sunken, or otherwise concealed; in real life, the author was a persistent, though not very successful, treasure hunter. In others, he asserts that he worked with knowledgeable informants. He presents himself as a dedicated interviewer who takes care to obtain the indigenous perspective on local history as well as the Spanish viewpoint.

Actually, the events of the novel cover somewhat more than one hundred years. The protagonists, who may be captives or stranded castaways, become the sole representatives of Western Christian society, surrounded either by members of radically different cultures or by deviant Europeans, such as cannibalistic pirates, who have abandoned civilized ways.

During the more than six months that Pineda spent as a prisoner of war, he developed an admiration for the Araucanians and a respect for their struggle to resist conquest and maintain self-rule. The narrative is crammed with dramatic episodes, 64 early spanish american narrative ethnographic detail, and various literary embellishments.

Araucanian men, as a sign of hospitality, invite Pineda to enjoy the favors of female tribe members, and the women themselves make very frank overtures to him. These episodes, which at times include erotic descriptions of the women, invariably end with the Spaniard resisting temptation and maintaining his chastity.

The second half is an essay on Spanish-Araucanian relations. Pineda is in the line of Spanish commentators who sympathize with native peoples and draw attention to the cruelty with which the Spanish have often treated the Amerindians. Sor Juana was the most accomplished of the numerous Spanish American baroque poets. She composed a good deal of poetry, both pious and worldly, secular and sacramental plays, devotional works, carols, letters, and various treatises, critiques, and statements. While women wrote in the Spanish colonies, they generally chose religiously approved topics or discreetly concealed their identities.

Sor Juana was in the spotlight as an intellectual and a poet on secular themes. She is often called a feminist, though of course the term was not in circulation in her time, for her promotion of educational equality. Seventeenth-century New Spanish society stressed the education of girls in Catholic doctrine, devotions, and morality, along with household management. But it was not considered necessary to add academic subjects.

Literate women were the exception even in the upper classes. Although Sor Juana was not primarily a writer of narrative prose, her most widely read and quoted work, an extensive letter of 1 March justifying her much-criticized dedication to intellectual endeavors and secular verse, contains an account of her life. By the late s, she had earned a great deal of esteem as a writer and intellectual. Some believe that the two may have been in love with one another.

Whatever the nature of this attachment, both the viceroy and his wife were powerful protectors for a nun pursuing a public writing career. It was not uncommon for contemporary nuns to write, but for spiritual perfection. However, prior to Sor Juana, none of the works of these women seems to have been published or to have received much attention. Nuns were not supposed to write for pleasure. Even so, the variety of these works is surprising: autobiographies, biographies, histories of convents, plays, poetry, and personal letters.

Most remain in manuscript in the archives of Mexico and Spain; others have been lost forever and are known only through excerpts or references in other works. She composed many poems with amorous subject matter. Some are clearly not allegories of divine love but secular love poems. Readers have been especially taken aback by the poems of loving friendship that Sor Juana addressed to the Countess of Paredes. For a cloistered nun, Sor Juana was certainly in the limelight, especially during the s. She was able to maintain outside friendships in part because her rise to fame coincided with a period of relaxed rule in convents.

Another factor was the just-noted favor she enjoyed in court circles. Visitors were allowed to come to the convent for intellectual discussions with Sor Juana, and devotees sent her gifts and letters. Her celebrity frequently gave rise to apprehension and resentment. It should be remembered that humility, and even self-humiliation, were regarded as great virtues for devout women. Crisis over a sermon. Though it has always been easy to obtain access to the critique, over the years this text has lost much of its interest.

The bishop added as a foreword an open letter addressed to Sor Juana and signed with the conventional pseudonym Sor Filotea de la Cruz. He singles out her secular poetry, which appears to have been disturbing to a number of her critics, as her most objectionable undertaking. As a Nobel-winning poet and public intellectual, Paz enjoys greater freedom to speculate than do academic researchers, who must support all their claims with evidence.

She was his ally. The letter begins and ends in what is on the surface an unctuously eager-to-please tone. With directly confrontational strategies ruled out, Sor Juana develops an ingenious set of devices for stating her case. Her discontent becomes increasingly evident as the letter proceeds.

Finally she brings into the open her belief that her criticism of Vieyra was considered out of line because it came from a woman. Late in the letter, she enters into a debate about the interpretation of St. This muchstudied document is not one unitary statement; rather, Sor Juana repeatedly changes the type of writing task that she is carrying out. As corroboration, she relates anecdotes in which she acted in the grip of this tendency. She learned to read at three by following her sister to school and telling the teacher that her mother had sent her.

Later she begged her mother to dress her in male attire and send her to the university in Mexico City. As a child, Sor Juana developed rituals to make herself learn; she would cut off some portion of her hair and only allow it to grow out if she had mastered a given lesson by a deadline. Although she liked cheese, she stopped eating it after hearing that it diminished intelligence.

Still I happily put up with all those drawbacks, for the sheer love of learning. Leaping from childhood to her later teen years, she attempts to answer a question that was evidently raised by some contemporaries as well as by many curious observers in later centuries: why did she become a nun? Her primary devotion was evidently to learning and intellectual activities, not to worship. Or when I am studying and two maids quarrel and come to me to settle their dispute. Or when I am writing and a friend comes to visit.

This goes on all the time. Paz included it in the third edition of his Sor Juana, and it is in the English version. His comments came back to Sor Juana, provoking her to write the letter. Can it not be through another? Of course, this theme is most evident in her reply to Sor Filotea, where she complains of male domination of intellectual endeavors. His penchant for independent critical reasoning came to the fore during a controversy over comets, provoked by the appearance of one of these celestial bodies over Mexico City — O n the whole, it is fair to say that eighteenthcentury Spanish American colonies did not produce as much outstandingly original writing as they did in the previous century.

The baroque manner lingered well past the period roughly the seventeenth century that is generally regarded as the baroque period. One often hears it said that the baroque permanently marked Spanish American expression. The principles and general outlook of the Enlightenment were spreading throughout Europe and the Americas. In the Americas, both British- and Spanish-ruled, colonial government was increasingly under attack. But even those thinkers who were not yet calling for a break with Spain were increasingly willing to point out the shortcomings of colonial rule.

Though his charge actually was to reform the postal organization, the unanticipated thoroughness with which he went about his task created friction with his superior, and he came to be regarded as a thorn in the side of the colonial administration. The Spanish American Lazarillo, full of social and moral criticism as well as some rollicking narratives, made its appearance surrounded by secrecy and deliberate misinformation. A good deal of the 76 early spanish american narrative research on the Lazarillo has been devoted to discovering what is behind the false indications provided by the author and publisher.

The work was published, most likely without authorization, in Lima in or The title gives the impression that the work is a travel guide, which it is, but only among many other things. However, the Spaniard was the one to compose the book. Indeed, the speaker defends the Spanish campaign of conquest and establishment of colonies in the Americas. However, eighteenth-century Spaniards do not receive the same respectful treatment. A number of passages in the Lazarillo—though not all—manifest an egalitarian outlook. An Enlightenment rationalist, Concolorcorvo takes the position that superstitious, senseless, and harmful practices should be denounced, whether the responsible party is a nomadic herdsman or a the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries 77 highly placed church or state authority.

In a few respects, Amerindian society is superior to European. Concolorcorvo has a pronounced horror of waste. Many episodes in the Lazarillo serve to denounce prodigality, a sin more typical of the Spanish than of the Amerindians, who use resources sparingly.

In its judgments, the work distinguishes between the subjects of the great imperial states and native peoples living in less hierarchically organized societies. Certainly this author was not anti-Spanish, and his goal was to reform the colonial system, with no mention ever made of doing away with it. Yet his eagerness to criticize authority and his generally Enlightenment outlook are indications of a lessening acceptance of the existing system of social control. Fictional narrative attains greater respect and more accomplished practitioners among Spanish American writers.

Chapter Three The Struggle for Nationhood and the Rise of Fiction W hile the eighteenth century provides relatively few outstanding narrative works, the nineteenth offers an abundance. Fictional narrative was beginning to win a place as a serious form of expression. Spain prohibited novels in its New World colonies, apparently on the grounds that they might overexcite the imaginations of the inhabitants and give rise to insubordination.

As the nineteenth century progressed, the novel gained ground as a vehicle for social criticism and as an art form. Although it was still not as prestigious as, for example, heroic poetry, more and more Spanish American authors took up the novel. John S. As for the number of titles published, it is probably safe to guess that more than 80 percent of nineteenthcentury Spanish American novels appeared during the second half of the century. In the early years of the century, the campaign for political independence is dominant.

After the wars of independence conclude in , the focus of the struggle for nationhood and the rise of fiction 79 attention shifts. Intellectuals encourage the achievement of cultural and intellectual autonomy and map out projects for national growth. Much of nineteenth-century Spanish American narrative, until the last years of the century, is dominated by nationalistic concerns. The books fueled a desire for domestic happiness that runs over into dreams of national prosperity; and nation-building projects invested private passions with public purpose.

Romance and republic were often connected. Only at the end of the century, when modernismo became the leading tendency, did the topics of nation-building and the creation of national literature move out of the center of attention; yet even at the height of modernismo there was still a good deal of nationalistic literature. Lizardi chastised colonial society harshly.

In Lizardi, whom the viceroy had appointed acting mayor of the town of Taxco, was arrested for aiding and abetting the insurgents. His apprehension would seem to indicate pro-independence leanings. However, when Jefferson Rea Spell researched this incident, he discovered that Lizardi had authorization from the viceroy to feign submission to the insurgents when they reached Taxco. Evidently Lizardi was slow to speak out in favor of the movement to overthrow Spanish rule.

It should be recalled that the insurgency began in rural areas; Lizardi was based in the viceregal capital of Mexico City, where the Spanish retained their hold until the latter phases of the lengthy struggle. Throughout the s, Lizardi was a thorn in the side of the colonial regime.

He spent time in jail but hardly emerged chastened. At other moments, though, Lizardi alienated the insurgents by appearing to curry favor with the colonial government.


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  • In May or June of , Lizardi came out in support of the insurgents. The novel was divided into four books; the fourth did not become available until — owing to censorship. The Itching Parrot is not easy to characterize. It has some, but not all, of the features of the picaresque novel. In an especially careful analysis, Sonia Mora seeks to show that Lizardi, by reworking the traditional Spanish model, helps establish a distinctively Spanish American narrative. Lizardi designed his novel to appeal to as broad a reading public as possible.