Landívar, Rafael (1731–1793)

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Landívar, Rafael (1731–1793)

Rafael Landívar (b. 27 October 1731; d. 1793), Guatemalan Jesuit priest and writer, born in Santiago de los Caballeros de Guatemala, today known as Old Guatemala City. He graduated from San Borja School and earned his Ph.D. in philosophy from the Pontifical University of San Carlos at the age of sixteen. Later he traveled to Mexico (1749) and in 1750 joined the Jesuit order. Five years later he was ordained a priest. In 1761 he returned to Guatemala, where he assumed the position of rector at the College of San Francisco de Borja.

When Charles III expelled the Jesuits from the American continent six years later, Landívar and his colleagues roamed the ports of Europe for a year, an odyssey which finally ended when the Jesuits were allowed to settle in Italy. Though Charles III prohibited the members of the Jesuit order from performing priestly duties and writing books, this did not prevent Landívar from writing in Bologna. His works include Oración fúnebre a la muerte del arzobispo de Guatemala, Francisco Figueredo y Victoria, two odes in Latin and one in Castilian, and the collection of poems entitled Salva cara parens. His most outstanding work, however, is Rusticatio mexicana, a mournful song of his native land in which he describes its natural attributes, its customs, and its disasters such as volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. The first edition was published in Modena in 1781 and the second in Bologna in 1782. It is the first ode to the Guatemalan homeland by a political exile and is considered the best verse about Latin America ever written in Latin.

See alsoCharles III of Spain; Jesuits.


Catalina Barrios y Barrios, Rafael Landívar: Vida y obra (1982).

Antonio Batres Jáuregui, Landívar e Irisarri: Literatos guatemaltecos, 2d ed. (1957).

José Mata Gavidia, ed., Landívar, el poeta de Guatemala (1979).

Additional Bibliography

Higgins, Antony. Constructing the Criollo Archive: Subjects of Knowledge in the Bibliotheca Mexicana and the Rusticatio Mexicana. West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press, 2000.

Recinos, Ivonne N. "La 'Rusticatio Mexicana' y su relación con las reformas borbónicas." Revista Iberoamericana 94 (July-August 2002): 147-174.

                     Fernando GonzÁlez Davison