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Rodrigo de Valdés: Poema heroyco hispano-latino panegyrico de la fundación, y grandezas de la muy noble, y leal ciudad de Lima

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Edited By Neal A. Messer and Jerry M. Williams

Poema heroyco hispano-latino (1687), a national chronicle or “epic poem,” commemorates the founding and greatness of Lima, Peru. Its unique rhymed quatrains can be read in either Latin or Spanish with equal meaning, and its insightful marginal notes interpret the city’s cultural history. Rodrigo de Valdés (1609–1682) underscores the decadence of peninsular Spanish letters in contrast to the compositions of New World writers. The poem is a tribute to the superiority, versatility, and interchangeability of Spanish and Latin as instruments of power that led to Spain’s world dominance, and to Lima as the locus of marvels and a quasi biblical garden of delights.

Lima has occupied without exception a privileged space within the colonial situation, as a metaphorical sovereign of new-world experiences and potentialities. Influenced by the spirit of Baroque sensibilities and Creole pride in his patria, Valdés bequeathed to Lima a staged panegyric that served as King Charles II’s introduction to the bounty of his American colony. Valdés, acting as commentator, guides the reader through a journey that spans centuries of Peru’s illustrious history. Working within the classical tradition of laus urbis or the praise of cities, Valdés depicts America as a paradise found with Lima at its center.

In tracing the poem’s relationship to the genre of classical panegyrics, Neal A. Messer and Jerry M. Williams argue its literary merits and elucidate how it enriches the colonial family of Latin American texts. Republished for the first time, this critical edition introduces Valdés to students and scholars of Ibero-American letters.

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Lima has occupied without exception a privileged space within the colonial situation, notably as a metaphorical sovereign of new-world experiences and potentialities. It is a city united by a discourse centered on defining its unique identity whose complexity, in the hands of centuries of chroniclers, has often yielded to reverence. It is a city that has weathered many seas and emerged stronger for those tests. Under the influence of its viceroyalty, metropolitan Lima has been celebrated in verse and prose for the prowess of its intellectuals, educational and religious institutions, indigenous legacy, unrivaled flora and fauna, material resources, and providential founding. In Rodrigo de Valdés the city finds an ardent apologist. Influenced by the spirit of Baroque sensibilities and Creole pride in his patria, Valdés bequeathed to Lima a heroic dual language panegyric that honored Spain and Peru. In this seventeeth-century poem the City of Kings enjoys legendary status in the New World, much to the envy of Europe. The poem is a tribute to the superiority, versatility, and interchangeability of Spanish and Latin as instruments of power that led to Spain’s world dominance and to Peru’s Lima as the locus of marvels and a quasi biblical garden of delights. Valdés, acting as commentator, accompanies and guides the reader through a journey that spans centuries of Peru’s illustrious history; delineating local events and their relevance to Spain’s empire, he opens the city’s doors for those who will only experience Lima through their soul via second-...

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