Benjamín Carrión

Benjamin Carrion in his library at the Bellavista house, Quito, 1969

Benjamín Carrión Mora (Loja, April 20, 1897 – Quito, March 8, 1979) was one of the great Latin American intellectuals of the 20th century. He was a lawyer, writer, novelist, poet, essayist, biographer, literary critic, legislator, diplomat, educator and cultural promoter. His most notable literary work is Atahualpa (1934), a biography written in story form about the last Inca emperor, which has been translated into English and French. In 1944 Carrión founded the House of Ecuadorian Culture, which preserves and promotes many aspects of Ecuador’s culture, including music, dance, art, literature, theater and film. Considered Carrión’s greatest achievement and legacy, this organization maintains several museums, libraries and performance venues throughout Ecuador, as well as a printing press which has been instrumental in publishing many noteworthy Ecuadorian authors.

Political life

From left to right: Ricardo Chiriboga Villagomez, Ecuadorian President José M. Velasco Ibarra, Benjamín Carrión and Leonardo Tejada, during the exhibition of Popular Manual Arts organized at the House of Ecuadorian Culture, Quito, 1952.

Benjamín Carrión served as the Minister of Public Education, was a vice presidential candidate for the left, and leader of the socialist party. He also served as a diplomat in several European and American countries. Carrión served six years as consul in Le Havre. In 1932 he was elected Secretary General of the Socialist Party.

Personal life

Benjamín Carrión, 1925
Benjamín Carrión, 1925

Carrión was married to Águeda Eguiguren Riofrío with whom he had 2 children: Jaime Rodrigo and María Rosa.

Benjamin Carrion with his wife Agueda Eguiguren in Bonsecours, France, 1927.
Benjamin Carrion with his wife Agueda Eguiguren in Bonsecours, France, 1927.
Benjamín Carrión with his young children: Jaime Rodrigo and María Rosa in Le Havre, France, 1929.
Benjamín Carrión with his young children: Jaime Rodrigo and María Rosa in Le Havre, France, 1929.
Benjamín Carrión with his daughter María Rosa (who was known as Pepe) at the La Granja residence, 1940.
Benjamín Carrión with his daughter María Rosa (who was known as Pepe) at the La Granja residence, 1940.

Benjamín Carrión‘s Legacy

Ecuadorian House of Culture headquarters
In 1944, Benjamín Carrión founded the Casa de la Cultura Ecuatoriana (the Ecuadorian House of Culture), a cultural organization created to stimulate, to direct and to coordinate the development of an authentic national culture. Headquartered in Quito (picture above), it maintains several museums, libraries, performance venues throughout Ecuador, and a printing press which has been instrumental in publishing many noteworthy Ecuadorian authors.

Model of the Mirror Building and National Library at the House of Ecuadorian Culture, 1953.
Model of the Mirror Building and National Library at the House of Ecuadorian Culture, 1953.

A bust of Benjamín Carrión in Quito, Ecuador.
A bust of Benjamín Carrión in Quito, Ecuador.
Benjamín Carrión Palace
Benjamín Carrión Palace (Spanish: Palacio Benjamín Carrión) is a palace and museum in Quito, Ecuador. The palace was built in 1946–8. The building is located in the district of Itchimbía, near the border with La Mariscal. Its south side is adjacent to El Arbolito and was one of the first structures completed in the complex of buildings which create the Cultural Center of Ecuador.

Pictures with other writers

Benjamín Carrión, the Chilean poet Gabriela Mistral, the Cuban writer Jorge Mañach, the Mexican writer Palma Guillén de Nicolau in Petrópolis, Brazil, 1945, the year in which Gabriela Mistral received news of winning the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Awards and recognition

  • 1968: Benito Juárez Prize (Mexico)
  • 1975: First recipient of the Eugenio Espejo Award, Ecuador’s national prize.

Works

  • Los creadores de la nueva América (1928), with a foreword by Gabriela Mistral, read it for free here.
  • El desencanto de Miguel García (1928)
  • Mapa de América (1931), read it for free here.
  • Atahuallpa (1934), read it for free here.
  • Índice de la poesía ecuatoriana contemporánea (1937), read it for free here.
  • Cartas al Ecuador (1943)
  • El nuevo relato ecuatoriano (1951)
  • San Miguel de Unamuno (1954), read it for free here.
  • Santa Gabriela Mistral (1956), read it for free here.
  • García Moreno, el santo del patíbulo (1958)
  • Nuevas cartas al Ecuador (1960), read it for free here.
  • Por qué Jesús no vuelve (1963), read it for free here.
  • El cuento de la patria (1967)
  • Raíz y camino de nuestra cultura (1970)
  • El libro de los prólogos (1980)
  • América dada al diablo (1981)
  • Correspondencia de Benjamin Carrión (1995)

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