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Jorge Icaza Coronel

Jorge Icaza Coronel Jorge Icaza Coronel[1†]

Jorge Icaza Coronel (July 10, 1906 – May 26, 1978), commonly referred to as Jorge Icaza, was a renowned writer from Ecuador[1†]. He is best known for his novel “Huasipungo”, which brought international attention to the exploitation of Ecuador’s indigenous people by Ecuadorian whites[1†]. Born in Quito in 1906, Icaza began his literary career as a playwright[1†]. However, after his 1933 playscript, “El Dictador”, was censured, Icaza turned his attention to writing novels about the social conditions in Ecuador, particularly the oppression suffered by its indigenous people[1†].

Early Years and Education

Jorge Icaza Coronel was born on July 10, 1906, in Quito, Ecuador[1†]. His early education began at the Señoritas de Toledo school, followed by the San Luis Gonzaga school[1†][3†]. From 1917, he attended the San Gabriel school[1†][3†]. Two years later, he entered the Instituto Nacional Mejía, where he received his bachelor’s degree in 1924[1†][3†].

Icaza’s early education played a significant role in shaping his literary career. The experiences and knowledge he gained during these formative years would later influence his works, particularly his focus on social realism and the plight of Ecuador’s indigenous people[1†].

Career Development and Achievements

Jorge Icaza’s literary career began as a playwright[1†]. His early works include “El Intruso” in 1928, “La Comedia sin Nombre” in 1929, “Cuál es” in 1931, “Sin Sentido” in 1932, and “Flagelo” in 1936[1†][4†]. However, after his 1933 playscript, “El Dictador”, was censured, Icaza shifted his focus to writing novels about the social conditions in Ecuador, particularly the oppression suffered by its indigenous people[1†][4†].

With the publication of “Huasipungo” in 1934, Icaza achieved international fame[1†][4†]. The book became a well-known “Indigenist” novel, a movement in Latin American literature that aspired to realism in its depiction of the mistreatment of the indigenous[1†]. Fragments of the book first appeared in English translation in Russia, where it was welcomed enthusiastically by Russia’s peasant socialist class[1†][4†]. Jorge Icaza was later appointed Ecuador’s ambassador to Russia[1†][4†].

His other books include “Sierra” (1933), “En las calles” (1936), “Cholos” (1938), “Media vida deslumbrados” (1942), “Huayrapamushcas” (1948), “Seis relatos” (1952), “El chulla Romero y Flores” (1958), and “Atrapados” (1973)[1†]. Although the latter two books are recognized as Icaza’s greatest literary achievements by experts, “Huasipungo” continues to be his most popular book and has been translated into over 40 languages[1†].

Jorge Icaza and “Huasipungo” are often compared to John Steinbeck and his “Grapes of Wrath” from 1939, as both are works of social protest[1†]. Icaza’s brutally realistic portrayals of the exploitation of his country’s Indians brought him international recognition as a spokesman for the oppressed[1†][5†].

First Publication of His Main Works

Jorge Icaza’s literary career began as a playwright, with works such as “El Intruso” in 1928, “La Comedia sin Nombre” in 1929, “Cuál es” in 1931, “Sin Sentido” in 1932, and “Flagelo” in 1936[1†][4†]. However, after his 1933 playscript, “El Dictador”, was censured, Icaza turned his attention to writing novels about the social conditions in Ecuador, particularly the oppression suffered by its indigenous people[1†][4†].

His first novel, “Huasipungo”, was published in 1934[1†][4†]. This book became a well-known “Indigenist” novel, a movement in Latin American literature that aspired to realism in its depiction of the mistreatment of the indigenous[1†][4†]. Fragments of the book first appeared in English translation in Russia, where it was welcomed enthusiastically by Russia’s peasant socialist class[1†][4†]. The first complete edition of “Huasipungo” was translated into English in 1962 by Mervyn Savill and published in England by Dennis Dobson Ltd[1†].

Icaza’s other notable works include “En las calles” (1935), “Cholos” (1938), “Media vida deslumbrados” (1942), “Huayrapamushcas” (1948), “Seis relatos” (1952), “El chulla Romero y Flores” (1958), and “Atrapados” (1973)[1†]. Although “El chulla Romero y Flores” and “Atrapados” are recognized as Icaza’s greatest literary achievements by experts, “Huasipungo” continues to be his most popular book and has been translated into over 40 languages[1†].

Here is a list of some of his main works:

Analysis and Evaluation

Jorge Icaza’s work, particularly his novel “Huasipungo”, has had a significant impact on Latin American literature[1†][4†]. His storytelling, which presented an unflinching portrayal of Ecuadorian societal conditions, particularly the trials of indigenous and mestizo communities, has been recognized for its impactful nature[1†][4†]. His work has significantly shaped Latin American literature and continues to inspire and influence, marking him as a towering figure in Ecuadorian and Latin American literature of the 20th century[1†][4†].

Icaza’s “Huasipungo” brought the issue of rural exploitation to the global stage and has been translated into more than 15 languages, including two English versions, signifying his far-reaching influence[1†][4†]. His status as Ecuador’s literary giant is not just confined to his homeland[1†][4†].

Icaza’s work is often compared to John Steinbeck and his “Grapes of Wrath” from 1939, as both are works of social protest[1†]. Besides the first edition of 1934, “Huasipungo” went through two more editions or complete rewritings in Spanish, 1934, 1953, 1960, the first of which was difficult for even natives of other Hispanic countries to read and the last the definitive version[1†]. This makes it difficult for the readers to ascertain which version they are reading[1†].

Besides being an “indigenista” novel, “Huasipungo” has also been considered a proletarian novel, and that is because Latin America had to substitute the Indians for the European working class as a model or character of proletarian literature[1†].

Icaza will always be read for his blatant style of portraiture, applicable to much of the Andean area, and for his unforgiving, insistent revelation of intergroup relationships as characterized by exploitation, fear, and lack of communication[1†][6†].

Personal Life

Jorge Icaza Coronel was born in Quito, in the Vergel neighborhood, on July 10, 1906[4†]. His father, José Antonio Icaza Manzo, was a liberal from Babahoyo who died in 1909 of a perforated ulcer when Jorge Icaza was only three years old[4†]. His mother, Carmen Amelia Coronel Pareja, was from Riobamba[4†].

In his personal life, Icaza was a bookstore owner by profession[4†][6†]. A resident of Quito, he visited his uncle’s Riobamba hacienda in the sierra in 1912[4†][6†]. He attributed the inspiration for his best-known work, Huasipungo 1934 (The Villagers) to this contact[4†][6†].

He married Laura Marina Moncayo Guerra on 16 July 1936, in Quito, Pichincha, Ecuador[4†][7†]. Together, they had a daughter named Fenia Cristina Icaza Moncayo[4†][1†].

In 1970, with his wife Marina Moncayo, Jorge Icaza wanted to stage the theatrical version of “Huasipungo” but the civil dictatorial government of Velasco Ibarra prohibited it from being performed[4†]. A year later, Icaza premiered his theatrical version of “El Chulla Romero y Flores” with great success in Quito[4†].

Jorge Icaza Coronel passed away on May 26, 1978, in Quito, Pichincha, Ecuador[4†][7†].

Conclusion and Legacy

Jorge Icaza Coronel is indisputably the most renowned Ecuadorian author of the 20th century[4†][1†]. His impactful storytelling, exemplified in critically acclaimed novels such as “Huasipungo” and “El Chulla Romero y Flores,” presented an unflinching portrayal of Ecuadorian societal conditions, particularly the trials of indigenous and mestizo communities[4†][1†].

Icaza’s “Huasipungo,” which brought the issue of rural exploitation to the global stage, has been translated into more than 15 languages, including two English versions, signifying his far-reaching influence[4†]. His status as Ecuador’s literary giant is not just confined to his homeland; his work has significantly shaped Latin American literature[4†].

His later role as Ecuador’s ambassador to Russia further exemplifies his multifaceted contributions[4†]. Icaza’s legacy has transcended time; his work continues to inspire and influence, marking him as a towering figure in Ecuadorian and Latin American literature of the 20th century[4†].

Jorge Icaza and Huasipungo are often compared to John Steinbeck and his Grapes of Wrath from 1939, as both are works of social protest[4†][1†]. Besides the first edition of 1934, Huasipungo went through two more editions or complete rewritings in Spanish, 1934, 1953, 1960, the first of which was difficult for even natives of other Hispanic countries to read and the last the definitive version[4†][1†].

This makes it difficult for the readers to ascertain which version they are reading. Besides being an “indigenista” novel, Huasipungo has also been considered a proletarian novel, and that is because Latin America had to substitute the Indians for the European working class as a model or character of proletarian literature[1†].

Key Information

References and Citations:

  1. Wikipedia (English) - Jorge Icaza Coronel [website] - link
  2. Britannica - Jorge Icaza: Ecuadorian writer [website] - link
  3. WarbletonCouncil.org - Jorge Icaza Coronel: biography, style and works - science - 2024 [website] - link
  4. Ecuadorian Literature - Jorge Icaza [website] - link
  5. Encyclopedia.com - Icaza Coronel, Jorge (1906–1979) [website] - link
  6. Ecuador Fiction - Jorge Icaza Coronel [website] - link
  7. FamilySearch - FamilySearch.org [website] - link
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