Literary Representation of Peru

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This study pieces together an image of Peru as a society through readings of a corpus of literary texts dating from the Conquest to the 1990s. Some chapters focus on recurrent topics: the centralization of power in Lima; the position of the indigenous population; literacy as power; the issue of national identity in a country characterized by diversity. It also examines other literary motifs such as dramatic social changes, communities living in isolation; the mestizo condition; the hopes invested in modernization.

“The author is a scholar recognised internationally for his expertise on Peruvian literature, his History of Peruvian Literature (1987) having now acquired the status of a classic of its genre. The present book. . . develops naturally from the intimate knowledge manifest in the History, and offers a refreshing and innovative insight that will influence readers for years to come.” – Peter Beardsell


"Spanning more than 400 years, this study focuses on literary representation of Peruvian society as it responded to modernity. In spite of the linear approach of the chapters, the book is organized by topic; for example, in the chapter titled "The World Upside Down," Higgins (Univ. of Liverpool, UK) begins with a 16th-century Quechua poem and ends with a novel written in the 1990s ... Higgins treats the reader to a rich selection of quotes from a variety of poets and narrators, and even oral tradition, always directing attention to a conflictive process of change, with elites and the marginalized poor in a never-ending struggle for power and redemption." - CHOICE

“James Higgins is the world’s leading authority on Peruvian literature, and this book impresses in particular both in terms of its sheer range and its close relation of literature to social and political developments. As a book on literature, this work combines the virtues of rewarding close analysis with the revealing incorporation of the entire gamut of Peruvian literary production: one of its major strengths is the way that, rather than treating texts in isolation, it tracks a clear relationship between the colonial and contemporary period. . . it also manages to show the impact of a colonial legacy on Peruvian thought and society. . . a comprehensive and authoritative book, conveying important themes via a language and style that is nonetheless accessible and genuinely illuminating. It is likely to become a key work for any serious scholar of Peruvian culture and society.” – Philip Swanson

"... an outstanding example of the contextualised literary analysis and,... a fitting climax to a distinguished academic career." -- Prof. David Wood, University of Sheffield

Table of Contents

Table of contents:
Preface; Introduction
1. The World Upside Down
2. Lima the Horrible
3. Travellers’ Tales
4. From Indians to Cholos
5. Mestizo Heraldry
6. The Power of the Book
7. History as Legitimation
8. The Wait for the Cybernetic Fairy
9. Towards a Rainbow Nation
Bibliography; Index

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