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José María Arguedas.
José María Arguedas Altamirano (18 January 1911 – 28 November 1969) was a Peruvianmarker novelist, poet, and anthropologist who wrote mainly in Spanish, although some of his poetry is in Quechua. Arguedas was ethnically Mestizo, being of mixed Spanish and Quechua descent himself.

Generally considered one of the foremost figures of 20th century Peruvian letters, Arguedas was born in the province of Andahuaylasmarker in the southern Peruvian Andes. He was brought up in poverty amongst Quechua Indians, and learned Quechua before Spanish. He studied anthropology at the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcosmarker and worked as an anthropologist for the rest of his life.

Arguedas began by writing short stories about the indigenous environment in which he was brought up, in a Spanish highly influenced by Quechua syntax and vocabulary. By the time of his first novel, Yawar Fiesta (the name means "Blood Party"), he had begun to explore the theme that would obsess him for the rest of his career: the clash between white "civilization" and the indigenous, "traditional" way of life. In this he was part of the Indigenista movement in South American literature. He continued to explore this theme in his next two books Los Ríos Profundos ("Deep Rivers") (1958) and Todas las Sangres (1964). His work showed the violence and exploitation of race relations in Peru's small rural towns and haciendas, while portraying Indian characters as gentle and childlike.

Arguedas was moderately optimistic about the possibility of a rapprochement between the forces of "tradition" and the forces of "modernity" until the 1960s, when he became more pessimistic. In his last (unfinished) work, El zorro de arriba y el zorro de abajo ("The Fox From Up Above and the Fox From Down Below") (1969), he abandoned the realism of his earlier works for a more postmodern approach. This novel expressed his despair and conclusion that the 'primitive' ways of the Indians could not survive against the onslaught of modern technology and capitalism. At the same time that Arguedas was becoming more pessimistic about race relations in his country, younger indigenist intellectuals became increasingly militant, often criticizing his work in harsh terms for his poetic, romanticized treatment of indigenous and rural life. In a deep depression, Arguedas committed suicide in 1969.

Selected works

  • Deep Rivers (2002)
  • Yawar Fiesta (2002)
  • The Fox from Up Above and the Fox from Down Below (2000)


  • José Alberto Portugal, Las novelas de José María Arguedas: Una incursión en lo inarticulado. (2007) Editorial Fondo PUCP. ISBN 9972428012
  • Elena Aibar Ray, Identidad y resistencia cultural en las obras de José María Arguedas. (1992) Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú.
  • Antonio Cornejo Polar, Los universos narrativos de José María Arguedas. (1997) Editorial Horizonte.
  • Ciro A. Sandoval and Sandra M. Boschetto-Sandoval (eds), Jose Maria Arguedas. (1998) Ohio University Press. ISBN 0-89680-200-0
  • Sergio R. Franco, editor, José María Arguedas: hacia una poética migrante. (2006) Instituto Internacional de Literatura Iberoamericana. ISBN 1-930744-22-6
  • Wilfredo Kapsoli (compliador), Zorros al fin del milenio: actas y ensayos del seminario sobre la última novela de José María Arguedas. (2004) Universidad Ricardo Palma/Centro de Investigación. ISBN 9972-885-75-5
  • Misha Kokotovic, The colonial divide in Peruvian narrative: social conflict and transculturation. (2005) Sussex Academic Press. ISBN 1-84519-029-7
  • Aymará de Llano, Pasión y agonía: la escritura de José María de Arguedas. (2004) Centro de Estudios Literarios 'Antonio Cornejo Polar'/Editorial Martin. ISBN 0-9747750-1-0
  • Amy Nauss Millay, Voices from the fuente viva: the effect of orality in twentieth-century Spanish American narrative. (2005) Bucknell University Press. ISBN 0-8387-5594-1
  • Melisa Moore, En las encruciadas: Las ciencias sociales y la novela en el Perú. (2003) Fondo Editorial Universiad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos. ISBN 9972-46-211-0
  • Melisa Moore, “Between two worlds: the poetics of ethnographic representation in José Mara Arguedas' Las comunidades de España y del Perú,” Bulletin of Spanish Studies 81, no. 2 (2004): 175-185.
  • Alberto Moreiras, The Exhaustion of Difference: the politics of Latin American cultural studies. (2001 ) Duke University Press. ISBN 0-8223-2726-0 (cloth) 0822327244 (pbk.)
  • Silverio Muñoz, José María Arguedas y el mito de la salvación por la cultura. (1987) Editorial Horizonte.
  • Mario Vargas Llosa, La Utopia Arcaica: Jose Maria Arguedas y Las Ficciones del Indigenismo. (1997) Fonode Cultura Económica.
  • Thomas Ward, "Arguedas: su alabanza del mestizo cultural", La resistencia cultural: la nación en el ensayo de las Américas. (2004) Universidad Ricardo Palma/Editorial Universitaria. ISBN 9972-885-78-X


  1. Mario Vargas Llosa, La utopía arcaica. José María Arguedas y las ficciones del indigenismo (Mexico City: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1996).

Sales Salvador, Dora (2004) Puentes sobre el mundo: Cultura, traducción y forma literaria en las narrativas de transculturación de José María Arguedas y Vikram Chandra. Nueva York/Bern/Frankfurt: Peter Lang. ISBN 3-03910-359-8

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