Eighteenth-Century Oratory and Poetic Contests in Peru: Bermúdez de la Torre and Peralta Barnuevo. A Critical Edition of Seven Texts by Jerry M. Williams.
This book offers readers a unique opportunity for the first time to compare, contrast, and critically appreciate the works of two of Lima’s most successful literary figures who, during the first half of the eighteenth century, represented the apogee of Peruvian literature. This is the only edition of its kind to study comparatively in one volume the works of Bermúdez and Peralta. The texts are reproduced for the first time since their original publication, which dates between 1699 and 1745, spanning 46 years of celebratory poetry and prose writings. They are a faithful models of compositions linked to literary academies and university halls, where poetic jousts or contests were governed by fixed rules. The message contained in poetry contests and oratory was designed to showcase the intellectual reach of Creole elite and its identification with and loyalty to the colonial power structure and its intellectual tradition of the time. The loyalty allowed Peralta and Bermúdez to thrive under the changing and objectionable conditions of colonial life and to articulate an organic literary space.
What we gain from reconstructing and studying the texts of Bermúdez and Peralta is an intimate understanding of the time and space in which the two worked, the continuum of knowledge and authority that is reflected in their writings, and their interpretation of the institutions (religious, academic, political, civic) to which they belonged and which helped to fashion their subtle enlightened criollo discourse. Their texts reveal an interplay of influences from Antiquity, the Baroque, and the Enlightenment, and a criollo sensibility and expressiveness that are as organic as they are metropolitan in focus. Both authors helped to support the promotion of letters in and outside of the Academy, and opened doors for generations of aspiring poets.
Aesthetically and politically, Peralta and Bermúdez are very closely aligned; they share the same colonial situation, creative space, political, socio-cultural and religious views, and access to privilege. That dynamic resulted in their shared political act of literary collaboration, not far removed from the contemporary model that Jorge Luis Borges and Adolfo Bioy Casares fashioned through their published writings.
Series: Ediciones críticas, #54
Series: Estudios de literatura latinoamericana «Irving A. Leonard», #10
ISBN 978-1-58871-164-9 (PB, 385 pp.) $50