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Inca Garcilaso de la Vega.
The term Peruvian literature not only refers to literature produced in the independent Republic of Perumarker, but also to literature produced in the Viceroyalty of Peru during the country's colonial period, and to oral artistic forms created by diverse ethnic groups that existed in the area during the prehispanic period, such as the Quechua, the Aymara and the Chanka indigenous groups.

Prehispanic oral tradition

The artistic production of the pre-Hispanic period, especially art produced under the Incan Empire, is largely unknown. Literature produced in the central-Andean region of modern-day Ecuador, Perú, Bolivia and Chile, was transmitted orally, as there were no known writing systems at the time. It consisted of two main poetic forms: harawis (from the Quechua language)--- a form of lyrical poetry---and hayllis--- a form of epic poetry. Both forms described the daily life and rituals of the time, and were recited by a poet known as the harawec.

Orally transmitted folktales expressed the cosmology of the Andean world, and included creation and destruction myths. Many of these stories have survived until the present, thanks in no small part to the efforts of early chroniclers such as Inca Garcilaso, who rediscovered Quechua poetry, and Guamán Poma de Ayala, who preserved mythology. Their inclusion in the "official canon" was a slow process, as they were not viewed with seriousness. For instance, Jose de la Riva Agüero, in his 1905 thesis Character of the Literature of Independent Peru considered the Pre-Hispanic literary tradition "insufficient" and unimportant in the formation of any new literary tradition. It was resurrected from obscurity in the XXth century, by a number of literary scholars and anthropologists who compiled and rescued Pre-Hispanic myths and legends. Among them are:

  1. Adolfo Vienrich - 'Tarmap Pacha Huaray (translated as 'Azucenas quechuas or Quechuan lilies), compiled in 1905; and Tarmapap Pachahuarainin (translated as Fabulas Quechuas or Quechuan fables), compiled in 1906
  2. Jorge Basadre - 'La literatura inca (Incan Literature), 1938; En torno a la literatura quechua (Regarding Quechua Literature), 1939.
  3. José Maráa Arguedas, who translated a XVIIth century manuscript entitledHombres y dioses de Huarochirí(Men and Gods of Huarochiri)
  4. Martin Lienhard - 'La voz y su huella. Escritura y conflicto étnico-cultural en América Latina. 1492-1988 (The Voice and its Influence: Scripture and Ethnocultural Conflict in Latin America. 1492-1988) 1992
  5. Antonio Cornejo Polar -'Escribir en el aire: ensayo sobre la heterogeneidad socio-cultural en las literaturas andinas (To Write in the Air: An Essay Concerning Socio-cultural Heterogeneity in Andean Literatures), 1994
  6. Edmundo Bendezú -'Literatura Quechua (Quechua Literature), 1980 and La otra literatura (The Other Literature), 1986

Bendezú affirms that Quechua oral tradition constitutes a marginal system opposed to the dominant Hispanicizing force. He speaks of a great tradition of "enormous textual mass" which was marginalized and sidelined by the Western scriptural system. Luis Alberto Sánchez, on the other hand, employed elements of the Pre-Hispanic tradition to illustrate his theory of a racially mixed "Creole" literature of both indigenous and Iberian parentage. To this end, he cited chronicles by authors such as Cieza, Betanzos and Garcilaso.

Adolfo Vienrich writer of Tarmap Pacha Huaray.

Colonial Literature

Literature of Peru's Discovery and Conquest

The Literature of Peru's discovery and conquest includes all works produced in in the region during its discovery and conquest by Spain. It can also refer to literature produced roughly around this time. The period begins on November 15, 1532 in Cajamarcamarker with the capture of the last Inca lord, Atahualpa; it ends with the complete dismantling of the Incan Empire and the founding of the city of Limamarker. The principal literary manifestations of this period are in the form of chronicles of discovery, or are epistolary in nature. Major works which explore the literature of this time include: Francisco Carrillo's Enciclopedia histórica de la literatura peruana (Historical Encyclopedia of Peruvian Literature), and various tomes by Raúl Porras Barrenechea which detail the works of the early chroniclers.

Spanish Chroniclers

First page of the Chrónica del Perú by Pedro Cieza de León.

According to Francisco Carrillo, the early chroniclers could be divided into various groups. The first is the group of chroniclers detailing the conquest. The majority of these were writers and soldiers who were responsible for producing official transcripts of military expeditions. In addition, there also existed a small group of non-official chroniclers or personal diarists who provided unique personal insights on the effort to subdue and colonize the region. Both groups coexisted during the first period of the Peruvian conquest, which took place between 1532 and 1535.

For the most part, these chroniclers all wrote from the perspective of the conqueror, whose mission was to "civilize" and "reveal the true faith" to the native peoples of Peru. Therefore, many of their descriptions and the motivations they ascribe to the indigenous peoples of the region are distorted and in error.

Among the official Spanish chroniclers were Francisco de Xerez, personal secretary of Pizarro, who wrote the Verdadera relación de la conquista del Perú y provincia del Cuzco llamada la Nueva Castilla (The True Narrative of the Conquest of Peru and of Cuzco Province, Otherwise Known as New Castile), in 1531. He is also responsible for Relación Sámano-Xerez (the Samano-Xerez Narrative) of 1528, which details Pizarro's first expeditions of 1525 and 1527. His historical accounts are reiterated by Pedro Sancho de la Hoz, in his La Conquista de Peru (The Conquest of Peru), of 1524.

Another official Spanish chronicler was Fray Gaspar de Carvajal, who produced the Relacion del descubrimiento del famoso río grande de las Amazonas (The Narrative of the Discovery of the Famous Great River of the Amazons) of 1541–1542, which described the first expedition and cartography of the Peruvian amazon territory, and of its towns and indigenous inhabitants.

Other Spanish chroniclers worth mentioning are:

  1. Miguel de Estete - Noticia del Perú (News from Peru), 1535
  2. Cristobal de Molina — a Chilean who was the first to write of the Indigenous inhabitants of the region in hisRelación de muchas cosas acaesidas en el Perú, en suma para atender a la letra la manera que se tuvo la conquista y poblazon destos reinos... (Narrative of Many Events Taken Place in Peru, Aiming to Correctly Record its Conquest and Inhabitants), 1552
  3. Pedro Cieza de León -Crónica del Perú (Chronicle of Peru), published in 4 volumes: Parte primera de la Chrónica del Perú (First Volume of the Chronicle of Peru), 1550;El señorío de los Incas (The Lordship of the Incas), first published in 1873 but composed between 1548 and 1550; Descubrimiento y Conquista del Perú (The Discovery and Conquest of Peru), 1946; and the fourth volume, divided into five books: La guerra de las salinas (The Battle of the Salt Mines), La guerra de Chupas (The Battle of Chupas), La guerra de Quito (The Battle of Quito), La guerra de la Huarina (The Battle of Huarina) and La guerra de Jaquijaguana (The Battle of Jaquijaguan), published in 1877, 1881 and 1877 respectively.

Indigenous Chroniclers

First page of the Primer nueva corónica y buen gobierno of Guamán Poma de Ayala.

There were a number of indigenous and mestizo chroniclers in Peru. Many of the indigenous chroniclers, such as Titu Cusi Yupanqui, were of royal Incan bloodlines. After familiarizing himself with Spanish culture, Yupanqui wrote Relación de cómo los españoles entraron en Pirú y el subceso que tuvo Mango Inca en el tiempo en que entre ellos vivió (The Narrative of How the Spaniards Entered Piru and Mango Inca's Eperiences while Living Among Them) in 1570. In it, he presents a vision of his own history, and presents Incan creation myths, traditions and customs, historical memories and impressions regarding the conquest and colonial dominance. Other similar works are Juan de Santa Cruz Pachacuti Yamqui Salcamaygua'sRelación de antiguedades deste reyno del Piru (Narrative of the Antiquity of this Kingdom of Piru) 1613, and Felipe Guamán Poma de Ayala's 'El primer nvueva corónica y bven govierno (First New Chronicle and Good Government) written between 1585 and 1615, but first published in 1936, in which the author details the devastation of the Andean world and tries to make sense of the chaotic reality in which the indigenous peoples find themselves. Juan de Santa Cruz Pachacuti also writes a chronicle in which he crudely attempts to explain the Inca cosmogony in rudimentary Spanish.

Guamán Poma, wrote an extensive 1179-page letter to the king of Spain, Philip III, in which he narrates the history of his universe and ends with a proposal for a utopic society. He embarks on a harsh criticism of the authorities, of the abusive priesthood, of the Spanish envoys and landed gentry, and of "mestizo" and creole society. In the words of Luis Alberto Sánchez, this long and futile letter constitutes an indictment of the colonial system.

Neoclassical Peruvian Literature

The hegemony of Creole oligarchy in Peruvian society favored the abandonment of indigenous forms in favor of European ones. Particularly successful among these were the imitation of Petrarch and the use of Greek and Roman mythological allusions, as practiced by the Academia Antártica literary group in Limamarker in the 16th and 17th Centuries. Early writers associated with the Academia include Francisco de Figueroa, Diego Mexía de Fernangil, and the anonymous poetesses remembered only as "Clarinda" and "Amarilis". Later Neoclassicists, such as Manuel Asencio y Segura and Felipe Pardo y Aliaga, arose, too, and the genre dominated until the end of the 19th century.

19th-Century Literary Currents

The 19th-Century brought Romanticism to Peru, with the works of Carlos Augusto Salaverry and José Arnaldo Márquez. Narrative prose developed away from the pastoral works of Manuel Ascensio Segura and Ricardo Palma) (see Costumbrismo) toward Modernism, with the works of Manuel González Prada and José Santos Chocano.

Modernism in Peruvian Literature

The general crisis following the War of the Pacific gave rise to Modernism in Peru. Its best-known exponents were José Santos Chocano and José María Eguren.

The Avant-garde movement was encouraged by the magazines Colónida and Amauta. Amauta was founded in 1926 by the prominent socialist essyainst José Carlos Mariátegui. The influential poet César Vallejo was one of its collaborators. There were various splinter groups among the Avant-Gardist poets, whose major exponents were Xavier Abril, Alberto Hidalgo, Sebastián Salazar Bondy and Carlos Germán Belli.

Interest in indigenous poetry was resurrected by the work of Luis Fabio Xammar. Others who brought Indigenism to the fore were Ciro Alegría, José María Arguedas, and Manuel Scorza.

During the 1950s urban realism developed with the works of Julio Ramón Ribeyro and the playwright Sebastián Salazar Bondy. Realism is also the province of the major luminary Mario Vargas Llosa, while Alfredo Bryce Echenique incorporated new narrative techniques within the genre.

Some of the most notable names in poetry are Emilio Adolfo Westphalen, Jorge Eielson, Carlos Germán Belli, Antonio Cisneros, Wáshington Delgado, Marco Martos, Carmen Ollé.

Noteworthy in narrative prose are: Miguel Gutiérrez, Gregorio Martínez, Alonso Cueto and Guillermo Niño de Guzmán.

Contemporary Peruvian Literature

Jaime Bayly is a noteworthy contemporary Peruvian writer. His work No se lo digas a nadie (Tell No One) has been adapted for the screen.

In the list of young writers we can highlight the work of Mario Bellatin, Carlos Herrera, Luis Nieto, Carlos Schwalb Tola, Fernando Iwasaki, Ivan Thays, Rocío Silva Santisteban, Oscar Malca, Peter Elmore, Patricia de Souza, Enrique Prochazka, Grecia Cáceres, Gonzalo Portals, Carlos Rengifo, Enrique Planas, José Guich, José de Pierola, Diego Trelles, Luis Hernán Castaneda, Santiago Roncagliolo and Daniel Alarcon (finalist of PEN/Hemingway 2006 award). Also, it is relevant the work of new peruvian poets as Jose Pancorvo, Mario Montalbetti, Jorge Eslava, Roger Santivanez, Renato Sandoval, Oscar Limache, Eduardo Chirinos, Mariela Dreyfus, Rossella di Paolo, Domingo de Ramos, Jose Antonio Mazzotti, Doris Moromisato, Rocio Silva Santisteban, Ana Varela, Jorge Frisancho, Gonzalo Portals, Rafael Espinosa, Xavier Echarri, Alberto Valdivia Baselli, Roxana Crisologo, Montserrat Alvarez, Lorenzo Helguero, Miguel Ildefonso, Selenco Vega and Jose Carlos Yrigoyen.

Literature for children

In this item they highlight the teacher sharply Francisco Izquierdo Ríos, grateful as the initiator of the stories infantile Peruvians and Carlota Carvallo de Núñez, both of the generation of the 45 who were devoted entirely to produce literature for children; although it is certain that other authors, much before, they had already intruded in this field with some fables, stories and poetries, but sporadically, as an annex to their literary creation. In poetry he/she is without a doubt the biggest poet Mario Florián who begins an entire beautiful dedicated slope to the Peruvian children.At the present time, among the many authors that write for the small Peruvians we can point out some: Oscar Colchado Lucio, with its already classic series of Andean adventures Cholito; Marcos Yauri Montero, with their grateful one "you Risk of the fox", Carlota Flores de Naveda, with their extraordinary one" Muki, the bull".

Separate mention deserves the most serious creators and investigators of the literature for children from the Peru like: the historian [María Rostworowski] with" Peruvian Legends for children" that rescues the infantile Incan literature; the professor José Respaldiza Rojas that enters its many works Jitanjáforas, only book that tries on this topic highlights; the journalists and investigating siblings [J.y V. Ataucuri García] , with Peruvian Fables, where they expose more than half hundred of singular fables; the professor and minstrel Edgard Bendezú "Marko Polo", with their vast series Fabulinka, poems sung with autochthonous flavor; the investigator and poet Danilo Sánchez Lihón, the most important critic in the literature infantile Peruvian; the professor and also critical of long trajectory Jesus Cabel; the poet Rosa Cerna; the former president of the APLIJ (Peruvian Association of Infantile and Juvenile Literature) Eduardo de la Cruz Yataco; the teacher and poet Ruth Barrios, Roberto Rosario and others.

See also


  • Basadre, Jorge. Literatura Inca. París: Descleé, de Brouwer. 1938.
  • Carrillo, Francisco. Enciclopedia histórica de la literatura peruana. Tomo 1: Literatura Quechua clásica (1986); Tomo 2: Cartas y cronistas del Descubrimiento y la Conquista (1987); Tomo 3: Cronistas de las guerras civiles, así como el levantamiento de Manco Inca y el de Don Lope de Aguirre llamado "la ira de Dios" (1989); Tomo 4: Cronistas del Perú Antiguo; Tomo 5: Cronistas que describen la Colonia: Las relaciones geográficas. La extirpación de idolatrías (1990); Tomo 6: Cronistas Indios y Mestizos I (1991); Tomo 7: Cronistas Indios y Mestizos II: Felipe Guamán Poma de Ayala (1992); Tomo 8: Cronistas Indios y Mestizos III: El Inca Garcilaso de la Vega (1996); Tomo 9: Cronistas de convento, cronistas misioneros y cronistas regionales (1999). Lima: Horizonte.
  • Cornejo Polar, Antonio [y] Cornejo Polar, Jorge. Literatura peruana, Siglo XVI a Siglo XX. Berkeley-Lima: Latinoamericana. 2000.
  • Cornejo Polar, Antonio. Escribir en el aire: ensayo sobre la heterogeneidad socio-cultural en las literaturas andinas. Lima: Horizonte. 1994.
  • Cornejo Polar, Antonio. La formación de la tradición literaria en el Perú. Lima: CEP. 1989.
  • Curl, John, “Ancient American Poets”. The Sacred Hymns of Pachacutec. . Tempe, AZ: Bilingual Review Press. 2005. ISBN 1-931-01021-8.
  • Guamán Poma de Ayala, Felipe de. El primer nueva corónica y buen gobierno. 1615/1616. København, Det Kongelige Bibliotek, GKS 2232 4°. Autograph manuscript facsimile, annotated transcription, documents, and other digital resources.
  • Lienhard, Martin. La voz y su huella. Escritura y conflicto étnico-cultural en América Latina. 1492-1988.. Lima: Horizonte. 1992.
  • Porras Barrenechea, Raúl. Los cronistas del Perú (1528-1650). Lima: Sanmartí Impresores. 1962.
  • Porras Barrenechea, Raúl. Las relaciones primitvas de la conquista del Perú. Lima: s/e. 1967.
  • Sánchez, Luis Alberto. La literatura peruana, derrotero para una historia espiritual del Perú. Buenos Aires: Guaranía. 1950.
  • Sánchez, Luis Alberto. Nueva historia de la literatura americana. Lima: Edición del autor. 1987.

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