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  • Introduction to Ricardo Palma
  • Christopher Carmona

Manuel Ricardo Palma Soriano was born on February 7, 1833, in Lima, Peru. He was the son of Pedro Palma, a wealthy man from the mountains, and Dominga Soriano, a mestizo woman with African roots. When he was very young, his father left and he was raised primarily by his mother. He was educated at a Jesuit school as a child and then the University of San Carlos. When he was of age, he left the university and enlisted in the Navy for six years. When he returned, Palma Soriano was heavily involved in politics, and in 1860 even participated in a coup against President Ramón Castilla that failed. Because of his involvement, Palma Soriano exiled himself to Chile for three years. Upon his return to Peru, Palma Soriano was still deeply involved in Peruvian politics, and from 1865-1876 he served on the Consul of Peru in Pará, Brazil, was a Senator for the Loreto, and was an official in the Ministry of War and Navy.

Aside from his political life, Palma Soriano is best known for his literary achievements. His best known work is Tradiciones peruanas (Peruvian Traditions), a collection of stories published as a series from 1872-1910. This collection houses Palma Soriano's best known story, "La camisa de Margarita" ("Margarita's Shirt"), which is taught in Hispanic literature courses across the Americas and Europe. Palma Soriano was also an accomplished poet, publishing several books of poetry including Poesias, published in 1855. In 1863, Palma Soriano published Anales De La Inquisicion De Lima: Estudio Historico, a historical account of the Spanish Inquisition in Peru. Both of Palma Soriano's children also became writers: his son Clemente Palma wrote horror stories influenced by Edgar Allan Poe, and his daughter Angélica Palma wrote several influential feminist texts and spearheaded a feminist movement in Peru.

Despite scathing criticism and controversial books, Palma Soriano gained a reputation as a formidable historian and writer and has remained so to this day. Throughout much, if not all, of his writing there is a streak of social criticism that marks him as a fierce literary and social champion. The three stories translated here, "La camisa de Margarita" ("Margarita's Shirt"), "Palla-Huarcana," and "Más malo que Calleja" ("Worse Than Calleja"), highlight Palma Soriano's dedication to political and social change. In "La camisa de Margarita," he gives a satirical account of the relationship between the aristocracy and the working peoples of Lima. "Palla-Huarcana" tells an Incan history of how a certain sacred place got its name; this story in particular gives insight into the indigenous history of Lima and Palma Soriano's connection to it. In "Más malo que Calleja," a story of cruelty and racism unfold with the telling of the origin of the saying "worse than Calleja." [End Page 278]

Christopher Carmona
Texas A&M University
  • Introducción a Ricardo Palma
  • Christopher Carmona
    Translated by Blanca Garcia-Jenkins

Ricardo Palma nació el 7 de febrero de 1833 en Lima, Perú. Fue hijo de Pedro Palma, un hombre acaudalado de las montañas, y Dominga Soriano, una mujer mestiza con raíces africanas. Cuando era muy joven, su padre se marchó y él fue criado principalmente por su madre. De niño, fue educado en una escuela jesuita y posteriormente asistió a la Universidad de San Carlos. Al cumplir la mayoría de edad, abandonó la universidad y se alistó en la Marina durante seis años. A su regreso, Palma estuvo muy involucrado en la política, y en 1860 participó en un fallido golpe de estado contra el Presidente Ramón Castilla. A causa de su participación, Palma se exilió a Chile durante tres años. Al volver a Perú, Palma continuó estando profundamente involucrado en la política peruana, y de 1865-1876 sirvió como Cónsul de Perú en Pará, Brasil, era Senador representando a Loreto y era funcionario en el Ministerio de Guerra y Marina.

Además de su vida política, Palma es mejor conocido por sus logros literarios. Su obra más conocida es Tradiciones peruanas, una colección de historias publicadas como...


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