Alegría, Ciro (1909–1967)

views updated

Alegría, Ciro (1909–1967)

Ciro Alegría (b. November 1909; d. February 1967), Peruvian novelist, essayist, and politician. A relative of the Argentine novelist Benito Lynch, in his youth, Alegría had as his first-grade teacher the mestizo César Vallejo, one of the most important Latin American poets of the twentieth century. Alegría lived for some time on his paternal grandfather's estate in Marcabal Grande, where he familiarized himself with the indigenous culture, camping with the natives at the edge of the jungle and listening to their tales.

Alegría was active in the American Popular Revolutionary Alliance (Alianza Popular Revolucionaria Americana—APRA), for which he was imprisoned in 1932–1933. Forced into exile from 1934 to 1960, he returned to Peru and was elected to the Peruvian Chamber of Deputies in 1963. While in exile Alegría lived and wrote in Santiago, Chile, winning prizes for his first three novels: La serpiente de oro (1935; The Golden Serpent), Los perros hambrientos (1938; The Hungry Dogs), and El mundo es ancho y ajeno (1941; Broad and Alien Is the World), which was honored by its American publisher Farrar and Rinehart. It subse-quently was translated into twelve languages. In the 1940s Alegría lived in the United States, where he taught at several universities.

Revealing his concern for the marginalized members of Peruvian society, particularly the indigenous population, Alegría's novels demonstrate considerable artistic merit and are of great testimonial value. According to Mario Vargas Llosa, Broad and Alien Is the World is "the point of departure for modern Peruvian narrative literature and its author [is] our first classic novelist." Alegría cared little about novelistic structure and form, but was able to re-create with great skill the experiences and dialogue of indigenous peoples, achieving at his best considerable lyrical intensity.

See alsoLiterature: Spanish America; Peru, Political Parties: Peruvian Aprista Party (PAP/APRA).


Angel Flores, The Literature of Spanish America (1966–1969), vol. 4, pp. 245-258.

Emir Rodríguez Monegal, Narradores de esta América (1969), pp. 166-174.

Eileen Early, Joy in Exile: Ciro Alegría's Narrative Art (1980).

Additional Bibliography

Apaza, Felipe. Alegría. Trujillo, Perú: Algo te identifica, Editora Gráfica Real, 2001.

Poeta Movima (Nicomedes Suárez-Araúz). Literary Amazonia: Modern Writing by Amazonian Authors. Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 2004.

Varona, Dora. La sombra del condor: biografía ilustrada de Ciro Alegría. Lima: Diselpesa, 1993.

                                        Keith McDuffie