Biography of José María Arguedas

José María Arguedas (January 18, 1911 – December 2, 1969). Writer, Poet, Novelist, Professor, Translator and Ethnologist of Peruvian origin, considered one of the best narrators and of the greatest representatives of the indigenous narrative of the twentieth century.


Similarly, Arguedas played an invaluable role in the translation of various founding stories and traditions of this indigenous culture into Quechua. He also stands out as a great anthropologist and social researcher, areas where he studied in depth The Peruvian culture, especially Andean music, achieving the rescue and revaluation of it.

Early life

José María Arguedas was born on January 18, 1911, in Andahuaylas, Sierra sur of Peru, becoming the youngest son of the marriage between the lawyer Victor Manuel Arguedas Arellano and his wife Victoria Altamirano Navarro. In 1913, his mother passed away. Together with his brother Arístides, two years older, he was placed in the care of his paternal grandmother, Teresa Arellano.

In 1915, his father moved to the province of Lucanas, in order to assume the position of Judge of First Instance. In 1917, his father married Grimanesa Arangoitia Iturbi, a wealthy widow and widow. Once organized, he took him and his brother to live with his new wife.

The family settled in Puquio, where José María Arguedas attended the Private School with his brother Arístides. In 1918, the brothers moved to San Juan de Lucanas in order to continue their studies. However, the following year, the brothers separated. Arístides moved to Lima in order to continue his studies.

In 1920, following the change of government, Arguedas’s father was dismissed, having to return to his profession of lawyer, which required his constant travels. José María Arguedas was then placed under the permanent care of the stepmother and at the mercy of her half-brother. He was often rejected and sent to live with the indigenous people who served on the estate, who gave him his affection, opening the doors to indigenous language and traditions.

In 1921, at the age of ten, he escaped with his brother Arístides, to the estate of his uncle Manuel Perea Arellano, where they remained for two years, until the return of the father. In 1923, he departed with his father, whom he would accompany for the following year, touring as recorded in his testimonies more than two hundred peoples.

From then on he studied in several places, among which are Colegio Miguel Grau de los Padres Mercedarios in Abancay (1924-1926); Colegio San Luis Gonzaga de Ica, Lima (1926-1928); Colegio Santa Isabel de Huancayo (1928); Colegio Nuestra Señora de la Merced (1929-1930) where she finally graduated from High School. Four years earlier, in 1928, a trapiche accident had caused him to amputate two fingers of his right hand.

Career starts

In 1931, he entered the Faculty of Letters of the National University of San Marcos, in Lima. However, the following year, his father died, so Arguedas had to be employed as assistant of post office, where he remained for five years. In 1937, he was arrested for eight months, following his participation in a student protest.

In 1939, already obtained his Bachelor’s Degree in Literature, he was employed as a teacher of Castellano and Geography, at the Colegio Nacional Mateo Pumacahua, in Cuzco. That same year, he married Cecilia Bustamante Vernal, from whom he divorced in 1965, to marry Sybila Arreondo in 1967.

In 1957 she specialized in Ethnology at the University of San Marcos, a degree whose thesis earned the Javier Prado National Prize for the Promotion of Culture in 1958.

Academic career

During his professional career he held several positions, among which are: Attaché of the Ministry of Education for the Reform of Pensum of Secondary Education (1941-1942); articleist in several newspapers, where he exhibited his research on indigenous culture; Conservative General of Folklore of the Ministry of Education (1947-1950); Head of the Folklore, Fine Arts and Office Section in the Ministry of Education (1950-1952); Professor of Ethnology and Quechua at the National Pedagogical Institute of Men (1950-1953); Director of the Institute of Ethnological Studies (1953-1963); Professor of Ethnology at the University of San Marcos (1958-1968); Professor of Ethnology at the University of San Marcos (1962-1969); Director of the Casa de la Cultura del Perú (1963-1964); Director of the National History Museum (1964-1966). Head of the Department of Sociology of the National Agrarian University La Molina (1967-1969).

Major works and final years

Writer of novels and short stories, where the Andean indigenous language and traditions is exhibited, his work includes the novels: Yawar Fiesta (1941); Diamonds and Pedernales (1954); Los Ríos Profundos (1958) work with which he won in 1962 the National Award for the Promotion of Culture Ricardo Palma; The Sixth (1961); All Bloods (1964); The fox above and the fox below (1971) which was published posthumously, even though it did not come to an end. Arguedas also stands out as a great Cuentista, being the author of the short story book Agua (1935); the story The Death of Arango (1955) for which he won in First Prize of the Latin American Story Contest in Mexico; he also wrote the short stories The Agony of Rasu’ti (1962) and The Dream of the Put (1965), as well as the short story book Amor Mundo (1967). Works to which his Poems and His Articles and Ethnological Research are added.

After an extensive professional career, great contributions in the study and promotion of Andean indigenous art, various recognitions and a prolific writing career, on November 28, 1969, José María Arguedas locked himself in a university bathroom and shot himself in the head, victim of a depressive painting, which he had suffered since 1946, and for which he had been years of psychiatric therapy, seeing deeply affected his work and intellectual activities.

Image source: biografiasyvidas.com

Biography of José María Arguedas
Source: Education  
August 14, 2019


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