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The first important novel written in Ecuador was “Cumanda”, by Juan Leon Mera. This literary work appeared in 1879 and belongs to the romantic genre. The work's backdrop is the majestic Ecuadorian jungle. The extraordinary narrative talents of Leon Mera, his ability to recreate settings and environments, and his close scrutiny of human behaviour are all evident in this work. “Cumanda” is the starting point for the Ecuadorian novel.

The name and work of Juan Montalvo are present in almost every Encyclopaedia. After the success of his first literary attempt, “Cosmopolita” - whose themes include women, Hispanic America, Moorish poetry, freedom of the press, his religious beliefs, and liberty [
one of his favourite topics] - he continued to publish new work. A large portion of his literature was written in exile, without references, helped only by his prodigious memory. These books include: “The Spectator”, “Moral Geometry”, ”The Ecclesiastic Mercury”, “Las Catalinarias”, “The Seven Treatises [considered his "magnum opus"]. “The Chapters that Cervantes Forgot”, and “The Perpetual Dictatorship”. His books have as much political character as literary, and created a new, refined, and polished style that made him one of the best and most celebrated writers of his time.

Twenty five years after the appearance of Cumanda, Luis A. Martinez published “To the Coast”. This novel brings together, for the first time in the field of literature, the two principal Ecuadorian regions: the Sierra and the Costa. In it he did not follow old models, but looked fairly and with perspective at the human plight while trying to change the Ecuadorian novel objectively and subjectively.

Salvador Ramirez, the hero of the story, sets out on a journey to the coast in search of new horizons with the goal of giving meaning to his life, plagued with complications. However, luck does not accompany him and he does not find what he had imagined for himself.

Between 1904, when Martinez's novel appeared, and 1927, when Fernando Chavez'sSilver and Bronze” was published, several experiments with novels and stories occurred, but without anyone taking an in-depth look at indigenous peoples. With Chavez, Ecuadorian fiction began a new era, as indigenous people figure prominently in his work. “Silver and Bronze” discusses, with clear metaphors, the differences between whites and Indians and relations between social classes.

Gonzalo Zaldumbide published chapters of a book entitled “Tragic Eclogue”, in which he describes the emotion felt upon returning home after a length of time abroad.

The success achieved by Ecuadorian realists reached new heights when the “Those Who Go Away” appeared, written by three young men from Guayaquil. Its authors, Demetrio Aguilera Malta, Joaquin Gallegos Lara, and Enrique Gil Gilbert, in a message full of realism, discuss to the indigenous people inhabiting the western part of Ecuador.

After their first success, the three authors produced various works in which constant formal perfection is notable, as is their wish to focus the internal world on the characters of their novels and stories. Along with them go two other important contemporary Ecuadorian authors: Alfredo Pareja Diezcanseco and Jose de la Cuadra; together, the five form the "Guayaquil Group", which is brought to attention by its high number of members, the homogeneity of its products, the quality of their work, and their innovative messages.

Jorge Icaza initiated the so-called "indigenous literature" in Ecuador. In 1934 he published his work “Huasipungo”, of world renown. It has been translated into practically every language. With realism and masterful narration, Icaza presents the difficult situation of the indigenous peoples.

Finally, some current authors deserve mention:
Short Histories: Raul Perez Torres, Francisco Proano Arandi, Juan Andrade Heyman, Abdon Ubidia, etc.
Novel: Nelson Estupinan Bass, Jorge Enrique Adoum, Benjamin Carrion, Miguel Donoso Pareja, Adalberto Ortiz, and some others.
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