Icaza Coronel, Jorge (1906–1979)

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Icaza Coronel, Jorge (1906–1979)

Jorge Icaza Coronel (b. 10 July 1906; d. 26 May 1979), Ecuadorian novelist, playwright, and short-story writer. In general, Icaza's fiction has become linked to the regionalist movement of social protest of the 1930s; his best-known novel, Huasipungo (1934), attacks the exploitation of Indians in Ecuador. Written from the point of view of the dominant urban class in Ecuador, the novel highlights the ethnic and class gulf between Indians and whites by following, on the one hand, an idyllic love relationship between two young Indians and, on the other, the encroachment of foreign capitalism on an Indian community that is eventually destroyed. Grotesque, sordid descriptions of harsh living conditions and exploitation are meant to create a better awareness of the plight of the Ecuadorian Indians, most of whom lack the bare necessities of life in the novel.

In similar fashion, En las calles (1935) narrates a historical event in which an Indian soldier, assigned to quell a battle between rival political factions, ends up firing upon his own community. Icaza's next novels, Cholos (1937) and Huairapamushcas (1948), take a more complicated view of the struggle between Indians and whites. The cholo, or half-breed, works for the exploiter against the Indians until he realizes that his people are being oppressed. While no one survives the massacre in Huasipungo, in Huairapamushcas, an allusion to the survival of the cholo suggests the creation of a symbiotic relationship between Indians and whites. While not as well known as Icaza's first novel, by far his best is El chulla Romero y Flores (1958), a masterly recreation of the trials and tribulations of a marginalized cholo as he moves from a rural to an urban environment, thus complicating his life even more as he comes to grips with his mixed racial heritage. Icaza's last novel, Atrapados (1972), is more artistically rendered and contains autobiographical elements that portray the concerns of a writer whose creativity is vastly limited to the confines of the sociopolitical world in which he lives.

See alsoIndigenous Peoples; Race and Ethnicity.


Manuel Corrales Pascual, Jorge Icaza: Frontera del relato indigenista (1974).

Enrique Ojeda Castillo, Cuatro obras de Jorge Icaza (1961).

Theodore A. Sackett, El arte en la novelística de Jorge Icaza (1974).

Anthony J. Vetrano, La problemática psico-social y su correlación lingüística en las novelas de Jorge Icaza (1974).

Additional Bibliography

Fabre-Maldonado, Niza. Americanismos, indigenismos, neologismos y creación literaria en la obra de Jorge Icaza. Ecuador: Abrapalabra Editores, 1993.

Lavou, Victorien. El indio malanga: écrire la domination en Amérique latine: Rosario Castellanos, Balun Canan, 1957; José Maria Arguedas, Los ríos profundos, 1958; Jorge Icaza, El chulla romero y flores, 1958. Perpignan: CRI-LAUP, Presses Universitaires de Perpignan, 2004.

Sacoto, Antonio. Indianismo, indigenismo y neoindigenismo en la novela ecuatoriana. Quito: Augusto Zuniga Yanez Gemagrafic, 2006.

                                              Dick Gerdes