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Literature In Peru

What began as an oral tradition passed down by generations of indigenous groups inhabiting the Andean region has evolved into a vibrant modern literary culture in Peru.

These oral traditions were told in the form of narawis (lyrical poetry) and hayllis (epic poetry), and were performed by poets known as haraivecs. Most stories were creation myths, providing mystical explanations for the origin of our species and many of our world's other great mysteries.

Fortunately, Peruvian literary scholars and anthropologists were able to transcribe many of these stories; but alas, there are discrepancies over the true intent of the messages spread through these oral arrangements.

The time of the Spanish conquest divided Peruvian literature into dichotomous segments: chronicles of the conquerors and chronicles of the oppressed (the latter of which there are fewer). Spaniards often wrote about their discovery of ''unknown'' land in the Amazon and the Andes. During this time the church controlled the press, and there were heavy restrictions placed on published works-producing a rather homogenous blend of authors-all symbolic of religious preoccupation with aims to ''civilize'' the native population of Peru.

Peruvians can attribute much of the preservation of their history and literary culture to Titu Cusi Yupanqui, a member of Inca royalty who provided an account of the Spanish conquest in his notable literary work,''An Inca Account of the Conquest of Peru.'' Other historians of that time often mimicked his style.

The neoclassical period began to favor European opinions with pastoral content, washing out the voices of the indigenous populations and densely incorporating Greek and Roman mythologies. This period remained until Romanticism took over in the 19th century, which brought Costumbrismo, or narrative prose, into the vanguard of Peruvian literature.

But in the late 1870s Peru and Bolivia waged a war with Chile, which came to be known as the War of the Pacific, that would alter the identity of Peru, and thus, its literary discourse. This pinnacle of history paved way for modern and contemporary literature-and Peru became a host of great authors like Marcos Vargas Llosa and Jaime Bayley.

Mario Vargas Llosa, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature for 2010, began his career by illustriously portraying his belief that personal autonomy is necessary for a society to function well, starting with, ''The Time of the Hero'' (1963), which helped to pioneer the ''Boom'' movement in Latin American literature. He spent his next three decades chronicling and critiquing Peruvian politics. Although Llosa's political ideology took many twists, turns and deviations during his literary career, his credence in individual autonomy prevailed throughout. He also pushed for presence of law and the establishment of institutions as a necessary component of peace-often disparaging the exotic lure of venturing into unknown depths of the Amazon and arduous peaks of the Andes in his novels like, ''The Green House,'' ''The Storyteller'' and other works.

Jaime Bayly emerged in the late 20th century, publishing novels on politics, sexual freedom and friendship. His most famous novel, ''No se lo digas'' (Don't Tell Anyone), was translated onto the big screen in 1998. The story is about a young Peruvian man coming to terms with his homosexuality under the societal pressures of his native country. While Bayly is also known as a journalist and TV personality, he has declared writing novels to be his true passion.

Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to Peru: Arequipa’s Phantoms, Peru Dance and Theatre, Peruvian Culture, Yma Sumac - The Pop Life of an Andean Princess, Art , Music in Peru, Museums in Peru and Peruvian Cinema: From Crisis To Opportunity.

03 Jul 2012

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