Culture, Literature and Drama
Valle y Caviedes, Jose Maria Eguren, Manuel Gonzalez Prada, Ciro Alegria, Jose Carlos Mariategui
Peruvian literature began during the 16th century when Garcilaso de la Vega, son of a Spanish conqueror and an Inca princess, wrote his Comentarios reales de los incas (1609; Royal Commentaries of the Incas, 1869), a vivid historical chronicle about the Inca culture and empire. Another important writer of the colonial period was 17th-century satirist Juan del Valle y Caviedes. The foremost writers of the 19th century were Manuel Gonzalez Prada, who wrote social criticism, and Ricardo Palma, who composed a collection of historical and legendary tales about Peru’s past.
In the 20th century there was an abundance of poets and prose writers. Among them are Ventura Garcia Calderon, a diplomat who was also an essayist; Jose Carlos Mariategui, a Marxist political essayist; and the poets Jose Santos Chocano, Cesar Vallejo, and Jose Maria Eguren. Ciro Alegria, in his famous El Mundo es ancho y ajena (1941; Broad and Alien is the World), has produced one of the finest novels treating the plight of the indigenous peoples in Latin America. Mario Vargas Llosa is an internationally famous novelist. One of Latin America’s most important literary critics is Luis Alberto Sanchez.
The theater has played an important role in the cultural life of Peru since 1568, when the first play in the country was presented in the plaza of San Pedro in Lima. During the colonial period, the Jesuits promoted dramatic productions, and 18th century viceroy Manuel de Amat was a leading patron of the theater. The country’s leading playhouse and concert hall is Lima’s Municipal Theater. Sebastian Salazar Bondy and Enrique Solari Swayne are the most important 20th-century playwrights.
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