Ricardo Palma

Last updated
Ricardo Palma
BornManuel Ricardo Palma Carrillo
(1833-02-07)February 7, 1833
Lima, Peru (disputed)
DiedOctober 6, 1919(1919-10-06) (aged 86)
Miraflores, Lima, Peru
SpouseCristina Román Olivier

Manuel Ricardo Palma Soriano (February 7, 1833 October 6, 1919) was a Peruvian author, scholar, librarian and politician. His magnum opus is the Tradiciones peruanas . [1]

Peru republic in South America

Peru, officially the Republic of Peru, is a country in western South America. It is bordered in the north by Ecuador and Colombia, in the east by Brazil, in the southeast by Bolivia, in the south by Chile, and in the west by the Pacific Ocean. Peru is a megadiverse country with habitats ranging from the arid plains of the Pacific coastal region in the west to the peaks of the Andes mountains vertically extending from the north to the southeast of the country to the tropical Amazon Basin rainforest in the east with the Amazon river.

Masterpiece creation that has been given much critical praise

Masterpiece, magnum opus or chef-d’œuvre in modern use is a creation that has been given much critical praise, especially one that is considered the greatest work of a person's career or to a work of outstanding creativity, skill, profundity, or workmanship. Historically, a "masterpiece" was a work of a very high standard produced to obtain membership of a guild or academy in various areas of the visual arts and crafts.



According to the official account, Manuel Ricardo Palma y Carrillo was born on February 7, 1833, in Lima, inscribed as the son of Pedro Ramón Palma and Guillerma Carrillo y Pardos, possibly his grandmother. On April 6, 1837, his father married Dominga Soriano y Carrillo, Guillerma's daughter. However, the documentary evidence shows many contradictions that was pointed out by Monsignor Salvador Herrera Pinto who relying on oral traditions and written testimonies concludes that Ricardo Palma was born in the town of Talavera, province of Andahuaylas, Apurímac Region.

Andahuaylas Province Province in Apurímac, Peru

Andahuaylas Province is the second largest of the seven provinces of the Apurímac Region in Peru. The capital of the province is the city of Andahuaylas. The province is located in the north-eastern part of the region and measures 3,987.00 square kilometres (1,539.39 sq mi).

Apurímac Region Region in 7 provinces and 80 districts, Peru

Apurímac is a region in southern-central Peru. It is bordered on the east by the Cusco Region, on the west by the Ayacucho Region, and on the south by the Arequipa and Ayacucho regions. The region's name originates from the Quechua language and means "where the gods speak" in reference to the many mountains of the region that seem to be talking to each other.

His family was living in Lima after migrating from the province. His mother was a mestiza with African roots. His parents separated when he was still young. He was educated at a Jesuit school and attended the University of San Carlos on an irregular basis. He suspended his studies to perform voluntary service in the Peruvian navy for six years.

From a young age, he dabbled in politics as a member of the liberal camp. In 1860 he was believed to have participated in a failed plot against president Ramón Castilla which resulted in an exile to Chile from which he returned in October 1862. He made a trip to Europe in 1864–1865 and when he returned to Lima in 1865 he became involved again in political affairs and public service until 1876. He held the positions of Consul of Peru in Pará, Brazil, Senator for the Loreto and official in the Ministry of War and Navy.

Ramón Castilla president of Peru

Ramón Castilla y Marquesado was a Peruvian caudillo who served as President of Peru three times as well as the Interim President of Peru in 1863. His earliest prominent appearance in Peruvian history began with his participation in a commanding role of the army of the Libertadores that helped Peru become an independent nation. Later, he led the country when the economy boomed due to the exploitation of guano deposits. Castilla's governments are remembered for having abolished slavery and modernized the state.

Chile republic in South America

Chile, officially the Republic of Chile, is a South American country occupying a long, narrow strip of land between the Andes to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far south. Chilean territory includes the Pacific islands of Juan Fernández, Salas y Gómez, Desventuradas, and Easter Island in Oceania. Chile also claims about 1,250,000 square kilometres (480,000 sq mi) of Antarctica, although all claims are suspended under the Antarctic Treaty.

Pará State of Brazil

Pará is a state in northern Brazil traversed by the lower Amazon River. It borders the Brazilian states of Amapá, Maranhão, Tocantins, Mato Grosso, Amazonas and Roraima. To the northwest it borders Guyana and Suriname; to the northeast it borders the Atlantic Ocean. The capital and largest city is Belém, at the mouth of the Amazon at the Atlantic Ocean and the 11th most populous city in the country.

The War of the Pacific (1879–1883) between Chile and Peru disrupted Palma's life and resulted in the virtually complete destruction of his own library as well as that housed in the National Library of Peru. After the war, Palma was named the director of the National Library, a post he held until his retirement in 1912. Palma successfully took on the task of rebuilding the National Library that was ransacked by the occupation forces of the Chilean army in 1881 following the battle of Lima during the War of the Pacific. Palma was able to bring the National Library back from the ashes so that it regained its previous stature and became recognized once again as one of the top libraries in South America. It was through his personal friendship with the then Chilean president Domingo Santa María that Palma was able to recover an estimated 10,000 books from Chilean hands, as well as many other works which were recovered through his own personal efforts.

War of the Pacific South American war (1879–1884) involving Chile against Peru and Bolivia

The War of the Pacific, also known as the Saltpeter War and by multiple other names was a war between Chile and a Bolivian-Peruvian alliance. It lasted from 1879 to 1884, and was fought over Chilean claims on coastal Bolivian territory in the Atacama Desert. The war ended with victory for Chile, which gained a significant amount of resource-rich territory from Peru and Bolivia. Chile's army took Bolivia's nitrate rich coastal region and Peru was defeated by Chile's navy.

Domingo Santa María Chilean politician and President

Domingo Santa María González was a Chilean political figure. He served as the president of Chile between 1881 and 1886.

With his lover Clemencia Ramínez in 1872, he had his son Clemente Palma, who became a prominent writer of fantastic tales, usually horror stories, that were influenced by Edgar Allan Poe. In 1876, he married Cristina Román y Olivier with whom he had seven children: Félix Vital, Angélica, Ricardo, Peregrina Augusta, Cristina, Cristián and Renée Cristina. His daughter Angélica Palma was also a writer and a member of the early feminist movement in Peru.

Clemente Palma was a Peruvian writer. He was the son of famous Peruvian author and scholar Ricardo Palma and his lover Clemencia Ramínez. His halfsister Angélica Palma was also a writer.

Edgar Allan Poe 19th-century American author, poet, editor and literary critic

Edgar Allan Poe was an American writer, editor, and literary critic. Poe is best known for his poetry and short stories, particularly his tales of mystery and the macabre. He is widely regarded as a central figure of Romanticism in the United States and of American literature as a whole, and he was one of the country's earliest practitioners of the short story. He is generally considered the inventor of the detective fiction genre and is further credited with contributing to the emerging genre of science fiction. He was the first well-known American writer to earn a living through writing alone, resulting in a financially difficult life and career.

Angélica Palma Journalist, novelist and biographer

Angélica Palma y Román was a writer, journalist and biographer from Peru.

Literary work

Ricardo Palma published his first verses and became the editor of a political and satiric newssheet called El Diablo (The Devil) at 15.

During his early years, Ricardo Palma composed romantic dramas (which he later repudiated) and poetry. His first book of verse, Poesías (Poems), appeared in 1855. He gained an early reputation as a historian with his book on the activities of the Spanish Inquisition during the period of the Viceroyalty of Peru (Anales De La Inquisicion De Lima: Estudio Historico, 1863).

Spanish Inquisition organization

The Tribunal of the Holy Office of the Inquisition, commonly known as the Spanish Inquisition, was established in 1478 by Catholic Monarchs Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile. It was intended to maintain Catholic orthodoxy in their kingdoms and to replace the Medieval Inquisition, which was under Papal control. It became the most substantive of the three different manifestations of the wider Catholic Inquisition along with the Roman Inquisition and Portuguese Inquisition. The "Spanish Inquisition" may be defined broadly, operating in Spain and in all Spanish colonies and territories, which included the Canary Islands, the Spanish Netherlands, the Kingdom of Naples, and all Spanish possessions in North, Central, and South America. According to modern estimates, around 150,000 were prosecuted for various offenses during the three centuries of duration of the Spanish Inquisition, out of which between 3,000 and 5,000 were executed.

Viceroyalty of Peru viceroyalty of the Spanish Empire

The Viceroyalty of Peru was a Spanish imperial provincial administrative district, created in 1542, that originally contained modern-day Peru and some parts of Spanish-ruled South America, governed from the capital of Lima. The Viceroyalty of Peru was one of the two Spanish Viceroyalties in the Americas from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries.

He also wrote for the satirical press of Peru where he distinguished himself as a prolific columnist and one of the bastions of Peruvian political satire in the nineteenth century. He collaborated with the satirical sheet El Burro (The Donkey) and became later one of the principal contributors to the satirical magazine La Campana (The Bell). Later he founded the magazine La Broma (The Joke). He was also a regular contributor to serious publications such as El Mercurio, El Correo, La Patria, El Liberal, Revista del Pacífico and Revista de Sud América. He was further active as a foreign newspaper correspondent during the War of the Pacific.

Statue of Palma in Bogota. Ricardo Palama en Bogota.JPG
Statue of Palma in Bogotá.

Palma's literary reputation rests upon his creation and development of the literary genre known as tradiciones, short stories that mix history and fiction, written both to amuse and educate, according to the author's declared intention. It was by creatively using poetic license and by deviating from "pure" history that Palma gained his large South American readership. His Tradiciones peruanas span several centuries, with an emphasis on earlier colonial and republican times in Peru.

The Tradiciones were published from 1872 to 1910 in a series of volumes, some of which are freely available on the internet (see the bottom of this page for links). [1] There are also many different editions and selections of the Tradiciones commercially available. The Tradiciones peruanas do not meet formal historical standards of accuracy or reliability sufficiently to be considered "history," but Palma never intended them to be read as "pure" history. Since they are primarily historical fiction, they should be understood and enjoyed as such.

The author's opinion, the opinions of the other primary sources or oral narrators of the stories he collects and transmits, as well as hearsay, play a large role in his stories. One of the best-known of the Tradiciones, especially within American Spanish literature classes, is "La camisa de Margarita"..

Some of the Tradiciones peruanas have been translated into English under the title The Knights of the Cape and Thirty-seven Other Selections from the Tradiciones Peruanas of Ricardo Palma (ed. by Harriet de Onís, 1945) and more recently under the title Peruvian Traditions (ed. by Christopher Conway and translated by Helen Lane, Oxford University Press, 2004).

The Tradiciones peruanas are recognised as a considerable contribution to Peruvian and South American literature. Some critics have classified the Tradiciones as part of nineteenth-century Romanticism.

Palma's Tradiciones en Salsa Verde were published posthumously. These stories are similar to the Tradiciones peruanas but, because of their bawdy nature, they were not published during Palma's lifetime for fear of shocking the sedate Lima establishment.

Throughout his life, Ricardo Palma published various articles and books on history, the results of his own historical research such as the Anales De La Inquisicion De Lima: Estudio Historico (1863) and Monteagudo y Sánchez Carrión (1877). He was a noted linguistic scholar and wrote a number of works on the subject including the Neologismos y americanismos and Papeletas lexográficas. He campaigned for recognition by the Real Academia Española of the Latin-American and Peruvian contributions to the Spanish language.

Personal letters

In 1999, a well-known London auction house announced the sale of a batch of 50 letters that Ricardo Palma had written to an Argentinian friend. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Peru persuaded the National Library of Peru to participate in the auction. It had been more than 50 years since Peru had bought cultural heritage abroad. Today these letters are kept at the National Library of Peru. Ricardo Palma University has recently published the letters of Palma in three volumes (2005–2007).

Secondary reading sources

See also

Related Research Articles

Luis A. Eguiguren Peruvian politician

Luis Antonio Eguiguren Escudero was an educator, magistrate, historian and Peruvian politician. He was the director of the General Archive (File) of the Nation (1914), Alderman of Lima (1914–1920), Mayor of Lima (1930), President of the Constituent Congress (1930–1932), founder and leader of the Social Democratic Party. He won the Peruvian presidential election of 1936, but his victory was ignored by the Congress and the then-President Oscar R. Benavides, who claimed that he had won with votes of the APRA. He presided over the Supreme Court and the Judiciary in 1953 and 1954.

The term Peruvian literature not only refers to literature produced in the independent Republic of Peru, but also to literature produced in the Viceroyalty of Peru during the country's colonial period, and to oral artistic forms created by diverse ethnic groups that existed in the area during the prehispanic period, such as the Quechua, the Aymara and the Chanka South American native groups.

Luis Alberto Sánchez Prime Minister of Peru

Luis Alberto Félix Sánchez Sánchez was a Peruvian lawyer, jurist, philosopher, historian, writer and politician. A historic member of the Peruvian Aprista Party, he became a Senator and member of two Constitutional Assemblies, in which the second one (1978–1980), he occupied the Vice-Presidency of the Assembly and the Presidency of the Constitution Committee. During the Presidency of Alan García (1985–1990), he was his Vice President and was appointed for a short period as Prime Minister of Peru. In Congress he served as President of the Senate two non consecutive times.

Alfredo Augusto Torero Fernández de Córdova was a Peruvian anthropologist and linguist.

Zoila Aurora Cáceres Moreno (1877–1958) was a writer associated with the literary movement known as modernismo. This European-based daughter of a Peruvian president wrote novels, essays, travel literature and a biography of her husband, the Guatemalan novelist Enrique Gómez Carrillo.

Antonio Cornejo Polar Peruvian academic

Antonio Cornejo-Polar (1936–1997) was a Peruvian-born academic, teacher, literature and cultural critic, known particularly for his theorization of the concept of "heterogeneity."

Javier Heraud Peruvian poet

Javier Heraud Pérez (1942-1963) was a Peruvian poet and member of the Ejército de Liberación Nacional (ELN).

Carlos Germán Belli de La Torre is a Peruvian poet of Italian parentage.

Javier Mariátegui Peruvian psychiatrist

Javier Mariátegui Chiappe was a renowned Peruvian intellectual and psychiatrist. He was the last of the children of José Carlos Mariátegui and Anna Chiappe. Studied at the University of San Marcos where he also started teaching; he was also a founder of Cayetano Heredia University. He was also the founding director of the National Institute of Mental Health “Honorio Delgado - Hideyo Noguchi”. He died in Lima.

Rosa Campuzano Cornejo was an activist affiliated with the cause of freedom in the struggle for the independence of Peru, born in Guayaquil, Viceroyalty of Peru on April 13, 1796 and died in Lima in 1851. She was called "the protectress" for being the mistress of General José de San Martín, the exalted "Protector of Peru."

<i>Peruvian Traditions</i> literary work by Ricardo Palma

Peruvian Traditions is a compendium of some of the writings of the Peruvian writer Ricardo Palma.

Alexis Iparraguirre is a Peruvian short story writer.

Francisco de Paula González Vigil Peruvian politician and writer

Francisco de Paula González Vigil was a Peruvian author, scholar, librarian and politician.

Teresa González de Fanning Peruvian writer and journalist

Teresa González de Fanning was a Peruvian writer and journalist notable for her activism in the education of women. She founded the Liceo Fanning (1881), a women's college, where she implemented her educational approaches. She was the widow of Juan Fanning, a Peruvian war hero who perished during the Battle of Miraflores in the War of the Pacific.

Mercedes Cabello de Carbonera Peruvian writer

Mercedes Cabello Llosa de Carbonera was a Peruvian writer. Influenced by the current of positivism and naturalism, she was the initiator of literary realism in Peruvian novels. She wrote six novels of social content and critical intent, the most successful Blanca Sol (1888), Las consecuencias (1890) and El conspirador (1892). She also wrote numerous articles and essays published in Peruvian newspapers on literary and social topics. She specially advocated the emancipation of women, and was one of the first Peruvian feminists. She was a contemporary of Manuel González Prada, who, like Cabello, was a sui generis positivist; and an attendee of Juana Manuela Gorriti's tertulias, which provided her an opportunity to meet other female writers and discuss literature and feminist thought.

Isabel Sabogal Peruvian writer and translator

Isabel María Sabogal Dunin-Borkowski is a Polish-Peruvian bilingual novelist, poet, translator of Polish literature into Spanish and astrologer.

Juan Antonio Ribeyro Estrada Peruvian politician and magistrate

Juan Antonio Ribeyro Estada was a 19th-century Peruvian politician. He was Prime Minister of Peru. He was President of the Supreme Court of Peru. He served in the Chamber of Deputies of Peru.

Cesáreo Chacaltana Reyes Peruvian politician

Cesáreo Chacaltana Reyes was a Peruvian lawyer, jurist, diplomat and politician. He was born in Lima, Peru. He graduated from the National University of San Marcos and served on its faculty. He was a member of the Civilista Party. He was mayor of Lima in 1886. He was a member of the Chamber of Deputies of Peru and Senate of Peru. He served as minister of foreign affairs and the interior in the Government of Peru. He served twice as Prime Minister of Peru and briefly Vice President of Peru.


  1. 1 2 Palma, Ricardo (1893). Tradiciones Peruanas. Barcelona: Montaner y Simon, Editores.