Carrió de la Vandera, Alonso (c. 1714–1783)

Updated About content Print Article Share Article
views updated

Carrió de la Vandera, Alonso (c. 1714–1783)

Alonso Carrió de la Vandera was born in Guijón, Asturias, circa 1714–1716. In 1736 he arrived in Mexico City, where he lived for ten years. His business endeavors took him to different places in Mexico and to Guatemala, Hispaniola, and Puerto Rico. He moved to Lima, capital of the Viceroyalty of Peru, in 1746. He returned to Spain only once, when he volunteered to escort the 181 Jesuits expelled from Peru in 1767. He died in Lima in 1783.

Once in Lima, he devoted his life to public office. Among his most important public posts was that of inspector of the postal system between Buenos Aires and Lima. This particular post, which he held between 1771 and 1773, was crucial for the creation of his most influential work, El lazarillo de ciegos caminantes (Guide for Blind Travelers, c. 1775). His visit to this territory prompted his disagreement over how to better improve the postal system with the administrator of the postal system, José Antonio Pando, which eventually resulted in his dismissal from his post as second commissioner. To retaliate, Carrió published in Lima a pseudonymous manifesto between 1777 and 1778 attacking Pando's views on reforming the postal system. The colonial authorities considered the document dangerous, and had Carrió arrested and incarcerated. He was later released due to delicate health and old age.

El lazarillo de ciegos caminantes was published under very enigmatic circumstances: false authorship, false license, false publisher, and false place of publication. Carrió never received an official license to publish because there was no printing press in Guijón at the time. He hid his name under the pseudonym of Calixto Bustamente, alias Conco-lorcorvo, a mestizo Indian who accompanied Carrió during part of his trip between Buenos Aires and Lima. In a letter found in the Archive of the Indies dated 24 April 1776, Carrió confesses that he indeed used Concolocorvo's name to avoid censorship. Many critics in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries granted authorship to Concolorcovo to ascribe El lazarillo Latin American authorship.

El lazarillo is a hybrid text, sharing characteristics of discursive genres such as travel literature, diary, chronicle, relación (forensic account), and popular romance. It is characterized by its descriptive, didactic, and critical nature. It is a valuable source of information about social, political, cultural, and religious practices in what encompasses a great part of present-day South America. The book provides a complex picture of how knowledge of distant territories and peoples by the Spanish crown was often characterized by ambiguities, contradictions, and an incomplete view of the diverse realities of colonial societies at the time.

See alsoCarrió de la Bandera, Alonso (Concolorcorvo) .


Carrió de la Vandera, Alonso. El lazarillo de ciegos caminantes. Edited by Antonio Lorente Medina. Caracas: Ayacucho, 1985.

Hill, Ruth. Hierarchy, Commerce, and Fraud in Bourbon Spanish America: A Postal Inspector's Exposé. Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University Press, 2005.

Meléndez, Mariselle. Raza, género e hibridez en El Lazarillo de ciegos caminantes. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1999.

Stolley, Karen. El lazarillo de ciegos caminantes: Un itinerario crítico. Hanover, NH: Ediciones del Norte, 1993.

                                   Mariselle MelÉndez