Miguel Riofrío

Miguel Riofrío Sánchez (Loja, Ecuador, September 7, 1822 – Lima, Peru, October 11, 1879) was an Ecuadorian poet, novelist, journalist, orator, educator, lawyer, and politician. He is best known today as the author of “La Emancipada,” Ecuador’s first novel, which was published in installments in the newspaper La Unión in 1863. Many experts however argue that because the book is usually less than 100 pages long in print, it is really a novella rather than a novel, and that Ecuador’s first novel is in fact “Cumanda” (1879) by Juan León Mera. Nonetheless, Miguel Riofro’s “La Emancipada” has been accepted as Ecuador’s first novel, thanks to the arguments of the well-known and respected Ecuadorian writer Alejandro Carrión (1915-1992).

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The Chulla Romero y Flores: An English Translation of Jorge Icaza’s 1958 Novel

by Jorge Icaza (1906-1978)

Translated from Spanish by Richard Gabela.

“El chulla Romero y Flores” is a novel by Ecuadorian author Jorge Icaza, published in 1958. The story revolves around the main character, Luis Alfonso Romero y Flores, a mestizo (mixed-race man) in early 20th century Ecuador. The novel explores themes of cultural identity, social class, and race, with a particular focus on racism, colonialism, and working-class struggles. It provides a critical portrayal of Ecuadorian society and culture. The title “El chulla Romero y Flores” symbolizes the protagonist’s cultural identity crisis by juxtaposing the term “chulla,” a derogatory label for a proud mestizo aspiring to higher social status, with “Romero y Flores,” an impressive double surname introduced by Spanish colonizers associated with prestige, wealth, and power. Set in Quito, Ecuador’s capital city, this engaging and thought-provoking novel delves into the tensions between Indigenous and Spanish cultures, and is often considered a masterpiece of Ecuadorian literature.

Jorge Icaza’s “El chulla Romero y Flores,” first published in 1958 by Editorial Casa de la Cultura Ecuatoriana, has been translated into a number of languages, including French (1960), Czech (1963), German (1965), Russian (1966), and Ukrainian (1967). What follows is my effort at the first-ever English translation of a chapter from Jorge Icaza’s book. I did this translation as a personal project and not as a commercial one. Any comment or suggestion from other translators or scholars is enthusiastically welcomed and greatly appreciated.

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