|Sandro Mariátegui Chiappe and Jorge Aliaga Cacho|
by Jorge Aliaga Cacho
My first point when dealing with the topic of Marátegui’s influence on the development of an indigenista literature in Peru is that during Mariategui’s time there existed a plethora of options to express the literary forms of Andean literature in Peru. The collection of indigenista publications available at the time certainly suggests the existence of an effervescent confrontation among Peruvian intellectuals in relation to their consideration on indigenismo. Evidently each discourse, each line of thought, each interpretation, represented the traditions and philosophies which they professed. These writers set scene for an eclectic and diverse ideological debate embraced by distinct sectors of Peruvian society.
Intellectuals like José de la Rivaguero and Victor Andrés Belaúnde, jointly with the Peruvian state, represented the dominant classes in Peru. Luís E.Valcarcel represented the populist feelings embraced by a considerable number of writers at the time, and José Carlos Mariátegui and the group Kuntur of Cusco represented the new Marxist ideas which started to enter the ideological field of Peru in the twenties notably with the publication of Mariátegui’s “Siete ensayos de interpretación de la realidad peruana”, in 1928. Therefore we can assert that Indigenismo represented from its origin the opportunity of a pluralist approach which I consider can be summarised in three stands: Indigenismo of the Peruvian state, populist indiginismo and socialist indigenismo. I will construct my arguments following the path of Mariátegui: socialist indigenismo. I will try to discover how Mariátegui’s socialism affected the view of Indigenista literature in Peru. I will also consider the other distinct views which have contributed to the development of the debate. Like Mariátegui a partisan convinced and confessed Marxist, I will look at their contradictions and by mirroring them in the realm of society, I will attempt to evaluate the influence of Mariátegui in the development of the Indigenita genre.
I have considered it important to start our study by sketching the oral literary practices of Pre-Columbian Peru. Mariátegui argued that the literature of the Spaniards in colonial Peru is not Peruvian but Spanish. I will therefore assess some Inca oral traditions which according to many form part of the literary tradition of Peru before the Spaniards arrived. I will also look at the work carried out by the Indian chroniclers Garcilaso de la Vega and Guamán Poma de Ayala whom I consider, in different degrees, expressed the beginning of a literary mestizaje.
Mariátegui held the view that literary production in Peru during the colonial period was not Peruvian. This was not, according to Mariátegui because this literature was written in Spanish but because it had been created with Spanish feelings and Spanish soul. I will deal with the literary expressions of Colonial Peru, the influence of Gooóngora, and in particular with the work of Mariano Melgar to whom Mariátegui refers as the first Peruvian literary expression.
Mariátegui’s views on the problem of the Indian were distinctive. He proposed the abolition of big states, the protection and promotion of the collective land tenancy. Mariátegui argued distinctively for the elimination of feudal features in agrarian relations. Mariátegui studied the Indian communities and found in the Ayllu Quechua the substance of ‘inca comunismo’. Mariátegui’s arguments were taken as irreverent by the mos hesitant representatives of Hispanic-American marxism and generated a heated polemic at the time. However, Mariategui’s ideas, as we will see, did not represent a ‘complete utopia’. Mariátegui envisaged the preservation of the best traditions of the Inca past but enriched with the contributions of modern socialism and Marxist praxis. Nevertheless, I recognise some exaggeration in Mariátegui’s idealised view of pre-Columbian Peru.
I will examine the polemic which Mariátegui sustained with Luis Alberto Sánchez. Sánchez, as a member of APRA, brought to the debate the ideological temperament proposed by Antenor Orrego and Haya de la Torre, foremost figures of APRA. I will focus in APRA’s view’s of the Indian, Luis Alberto Sánchez’s view, in order to create the anti-thesis of Mariátegui’s paper on the problem of the races which Mariátegui sent to be discussed at the First International Conference of Latin American Communists celebrated in Buenos Aires in 1929.
Mariátegui argued that: ‘el dualismo quechua-español del Perú, no resuelto aún, hace de la literatura nacional un caso de excepción que no es posible estudiar con el método valido para las literaturas orgánicamente nacionales, nacidas y crecidas sin la intervención de una conquista. Nuestro caso es diverso del de aquellos pueblos de América, donde la misma dualidad no existe, o existe en términos inocuos. La individualidad de la literatura Argentina, por ejemplo, está en estricto acuerdo con una definición vigorosa de la personalidad nacional@ (“Siete ensayos de interpretación de la realidad peruana”, p.236). Analogously I will argue that the Indian in Argentina, and particularly in its literature, displays the most bland representation of native Americans in the literary tradition of the American continent.
I will interpret Mariátegui’s view of the futuristas, Clorinda Mattos de Turner, and the Colonidas. These pre-Indigenista literary traditions were also interpreted by Victor Andrés Belaúnde in his book “La realidad nacional” published in November 1930, in Paris, two years after the publication of “Siete ensayos de interpretación de la realidad peruana” and a few months after Mariátegui’s death. Victor Andrés Belaúnde in his book, “La realidad nacional”, an immediate replica of Mariátegui’s “Siete ensayos de interpretación de la realidad peruana”. In fact the work was partially published between 1929 and 1930 in the magazine “Mercurio Peruano”. I will compare both writers discourse of some aspects of the literary development and particularly their assessment of the pre-indigenista tradition in Peruvian literature.
The fine quality of the polemic sustained between Mariátegui and Belaúnde, as much as the shared respect for each others arguments, stimulates the examination and comparison of some sensitive aspects of their discord.
Victor Andrés Belaúnde wrote:
“La distancia ideológica que me separa del autor –toda la que media entre el cristiaismo integral y el socialismo integral- y con la evidente injusticia con que trata a la generación a la que pertenezco, imponen de mi parte, al estudiar sus Siete ensayos de interpretación de la realidad peruana, un deber de mayor imparcialidad. Deber fácil en este caso. Tengo el espíritu abierto a la admiración, y la despiertan sinceramente el talento y la obra de Mariátegui”. (Belaúnde, Victor Andrés, “La realidad peruana”, p.1).
Mariátegui on his part wrote:
“Declaro sin escrúpulos que traigo a la exégesis literaria todas mis pasiones o ideas políticas aunque dado el descrédito y degeneración de este vocablo en el lenguaje corriente, debo agregar que la política en mi es filosofía y religión’. Explaininig further his position Mariátegui continued: ‘Pero esto no quiere decir que considere el fenómeno literario o artístico desde el punto de vista extra-estético, sino mi concepción estética es unimisma en la intimidad de mi conciencia con mis concepciones morales, políticas y religiosas, y que, sin dejar de ser concepción estrictamente estética, no puede operar independientemente o diversamente’.
José de la Riva Aguero (1885-1944) on his part had a strikingly different view of the Indian. His view assumed a Hispanic stand and his articles in “Mercurio Peruano” and I “Universidad” clearly defended colonialism. His “La historia del Perú” is filled with statements which denigrate the character of the Indian, who in his view is aldegenerate being, and accordingly endowed with an inferior psychology, used to domination. For Riva Aguero, unlike Mariátegui, the national being was to be found in the aspiration to develop a European civilization inherited from Spain. Riva Aguero thought that the ‘regeneration’ or ‘redemption’ of the Indian implied their assimilation by the Hispanic culture and Hispanic traditions found at the heart of colonialism. Riva Aguero, like Sarmiento in Argentina, proposed as a solution white immigration . His prescription was also mestizaje and a educative civilising action on the parte of the catholic church in favour of the Indian. Riva Aguero was mainly influenced by Michelet, Taine and positivism, the Uruguayan Rodo and his readings of Plato. The novecentistas engaged the roots of history as well as the techniques and conduct of positivism, modified by a return to idealist elements. The novecentistas were also familiar with classical literature and classical history. Riva Aguero an admirer of Tito Livio and the 19th century , social critic, Marcelino Menéndez Pelayo. The short story writer Ventura García Calderón (1886-1959) shared with Riva Aguero an interest in awarding to ruling class the right to ‘civilize’ the country and ‘solve’ the problems of the nation. García Calderón and Riva Aguero were aristocrats and as such both justified a regime of servile exploitation based on the following assumptions: ‘racial inferiority’ and the ‘inferior, ignorant and primitive character’ of the Indian population. García Calderón’s literary characters lacked a distinguishing national character, but the actions and geography depicted our reality. Some opine that García Calderón’s work, at the beginning of the century, is a response to a moment of transition in Peruvian prose whose evolution García Calderón reviwed in his book ‘Del romanticismo al modernismo’.
After drawing an assessment of both approaches, I will try to establish fresh evidence to prove my hypothesis tha Mariategui’s influence on the development of indegenismo is of vital importance. I will examine works by new generation of indigenistas such as José María Arguedas, Ciro Alegría, Eleodoro Vargas Vicuña, and Martin Adán, trying to extract the indigenista features of their work. In particular, I will focus on “Los ríos profundos’, one of the most important novels of the indigenista genre written by Arguedas in 1961.
To conclude, I will provide an overview of other works of an indigenista nature, among them an unedited poem written by Eleodoro Vargas Vicuña, and presented to the author of this dissertation, in the year 1980, ‘una noche de luna’ as the poet would say. Finally, I will try to find some points of convergence between some of the participants in the First Congress of Narrators of 1965 and José Carlos Mariátegui.
(JAC, Edinburgh 1996)