Basadre, Jorge (1903–1980)

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Basadre, Jorge (1903–1980)

Jorge Basadre was Peru's most prolific and renowned twentieth-century historian. Born in Tacna on February 12, 1903, he was educated in the schools of Lima and at the National University of San Marcos, where he earned the LittD and LLD degrees. In 1928 he joined the Faculty of Letters at San Marcos as professor of history and then, in 1931, the Faculty of Law. In addition to teaching, he administered the university library for two terms in the 1930s and 1940s. During World War II he directed the National Library, which he successfully rebuilt after a devastating fire. More than a decade later he served as minister of education (1956–1958).

Basadre received many honors and visiting appointments that took him abroad, from institutions including the Carnegie Foundation, the Universities of Sevilla and Virginia, and the Pan American Union in Washington, D.C. During a long career that spanned sixty years, he wrote a prodigious number of historical studies, which began to appear in the 1920s. Perhaps, his most profound were La iniciacion de la republica (2 vols., 1929–1930), La multitud, la ciudad y el campo en la historia del Perú (1929), and Perú: problema y posibilidad (1931); a historiographical trilogy today universally acclaimed as classics.

The first edition of his monumental, three-volume Historia de la republica del Perú, 1822–1933 appeared in 1939 and was later revised and expanded in five subsequent editions to seventeen volumes (1969). This colossal work is notable for its diversity of topics, ranging from politics, economics, and sociology to science and technology, education, and art and literature. In all of his works Basadre sought to discover what constituted the essence of Peru—the nation, its racially and ethnically diverse people, and what came to be called lo peruano (to be Peruvian). Always attuned to the contemporary Peruvian scene, he also wrote numerous articles for newspapers and journals both in Peru and abroad, which were collected in a single volume, La vida y la historia (1975). Basadre died on June 29, 1980.

See alsoPeru: Peru Since Independence .


Basadre, Jorge. Memoria y destino del Perú: Textos esenciales. Edited by Ernesto Yepes del Castillo. Lima: Fondo Editorial del Congreso del Perú, 2003.

O'Phelan Godoy, Scarlett, and Mónica Ricketts Sanchez-Moreno, eds. Homenaje a Jorge Basadre: El hombre, su obra, y su tiempo. Lima: Instituto Riva-Agüero, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, 2004.

                                             Peter KlarÉn