Jose Maria Arguedas

Biografie şi Bibliografie

José María Arguedas Altamirano (18 January 1911 – 28 November 1969) was a Peruvian 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 Andahuaylas in the southern Peruvian Andes. He was brought up in poverty amongst Quechua Indians, and learned Quechua before Spanish. He studied anthropology at the National University of San Marcos (Lima, Peru) 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 (1941; the name means "Blood Festival"), 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, caused by his fear that the 'primitive' ways of the Indians could not survive 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 by gunshot in 1969.

Selected works


    * 1935 - Agua. Los escoleros. Warma kuyay. Collection of short stories.
    * 1941 - Yawar fiesta ("Blood River"). Novel. Revised in 1958. English translation: Yawar Fiesta, translated by Frances Horning Barraclough (University of Texas Press, 1985).
    * 1953 - "La muerte de los hermanos Arango." Short story.
    * 1954 - Diamantes y pedernales. Novel.
    * 1958 - Los ríos profundos. Novel. English translation: Deep Rivers, translated by Frances Horning Barraclough (University of Texas Press, 1978).
    * 1961 - El Sexto. Novel, based on Arguedas's experiences in the federal prison El Sexto in 1938.
    * 1962 - "La agonía de Rasu Ñiti." Short story.
    * 1964 - Todas las sangres. Novel.
    * 1965 - El sueño del pongo: Cuento quechua. Pongoq mosqoynin; qatqa runapa willakusqan. Bilingual (Quechua/Spanish) story, published as a pamphlet.
    * 1967 - Amor mundo y todos los cuentos. Collection of short stories.
    * 1971 - El zorro de arriba y el zorro de abajo. Unfinished novel, published posthumously. Describes the crises that would lead to his suicide. English translation: The Fox from Up Above and the Fox from Down Below, translated by Frances Horning Barraclough (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2000).
    * 1973 - Cuentos olvidados. Posthumous collection of short stories.


Arguedas wrote his poems in Quechua and later translated them into Spanish.

    * 1962 - Túpac Amaru Kamaq taytanchisman. Haylli-taki. A nuestro padre creador Túpac Amaru.
    * 1966 - Oda al jet.
    * 1969 - Qollana Vietnam Llaqtaman / Al pueblo excelso de Vietnam.
    * 1972 - Katatay y otros poemas. Huc jayllikunapas. Published posthumously in a bilingual edition (Quechua and Spanish) by Sybila Arredondo de Arguedas.

Anthropology and Folkloric Studies

    * 1938 - Canto kechwa. Includes an essay on the artistic and creative abilities of Indians and mestizos. Bilingua edition (Quechua and Spanish), compiled while Arguedas was imprisoned for participating in a student protest.
    * 1947 - Mitos, leyendas y cuentos peruanos. Quechua myths, legends, and tales, collected by school teachers in the Andes, edited and translated into Spanish by Arguedas and Francisco Izquierdo Ríos.
    * 1949 - Canciones y cuentos del pueblo quechua. Published in English translation as The Singing Mountaineers: Songs and Tales of the Quechua People, edited by Ruth Stephan (University of Texas Press, 1957).
    * 1953 - Cuentos mágico-realistas y canciones de fiestas tradicionales - Folclor del valle del Mantaro.
    * 1956 - Puquio, una cultura en proceso de cambio.
    * 1957 - Estudio etnográfico de la feria de Huancayo.
    * 1957 - Evolución de las comunidades indígenas.
    * 1958 - El arte popular religioso y la cultura mestiza.
    * 1961 - Cuentos mágico-religiosos quechuas de Lucanamarca.
    * 1966 - Poesía quechua.
    * 1968 - Las comunidades de España y del Perú.
    * 1975 - Señores e indios: Acerca de la cultura quechua. Posthumous collection, edited by Ángel Rama.
    * 1976 - Formación de una cultura nacional indoamericana. Posthumous collection, edited by Ángel Rama.

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